Tis the season…for sugar-induced energy crashes. Halloween candy runs into Thanksgiving pies then Christmas cookies. Before you know it, you’ve had a two-month sugar binge.
This time of year is especially difficult for anyone who already struggles with a sweet tooth. Wherever you go, whether it’s a holiday party or simply a Tuesday at work, sweets are always available. But, it is possible to navigate the holiday season without completely going overboard. Here are my top tips to tame your holiday sweet tooth.
Wait 15 minutes.
Most sweet cravings last about 15 minutes. If you can wait and do something else for at least that long, you’ll likely find your sweet craving has subsided or even disappeared entirely. Do something that occupies your mind or body, like reading a book, walking your dog or practicing a Pure Barre technique.
Skipping breakfast almost always leads to sweet cravings at night – it’s your body’s way of trying to make up for the energy it missed earlier in the day. In my practice, I’ve found eating a balanced breakfast is often a simple, quick fix for a sweet tooth. For maximum benefit, include a healthy fat, unprocessed carb and protein. My favorites – a smoothie made with fruit, almond milk and nut butter, avocado and egg on sprouted grain toast or oatmeal with fruit and nuts.
Sometimes when you think you want sweets, you don’t actually want sweets. What you really want is a distraction from what’s troubling you. If that’s the case, remind yourself sweets are a temporary Band-Aid. After the sugar rush passes, you’ll feel worse than before. Instead, deal with the real problem. Face the issue head on, or if it’s an issue you can’t fix, manage your stress with meditation, exercise (Pure Barre!), and the support of family and friends.
Enjoy sweets without added sugar.
Use sweets as a way to sneak in extra nutrition by using naturally sweet foods. Bananas, dates and other foods rich in healthy, natural sugars are perfect for creating indulgent, yet nutritious treats. Some of my favorites – raw brownies, banana ice cream and “milkshakes.”
Don’t deprive yourself.
There’s nothing wrong with loving sweets. A freshly baked cookie makes life just a little more joyful, and that’s nothing to feel guilty about. Thinking of sweets as off limits makes them all the more tempting. Deprive yourself and you’ll end up binging; so enjoy sweets, guilt free, on occasion. Just remember, there’s a big difference between savoring a square of extra-fudgy brownie and mindlessly munching on a pint of diet ice cream in front of the TV. When deciding what treats are “worth it,” ask yourself if you really want that specific sweet, or if you’re just trying to satisfy some nonspecific craving.
How do you tame your holiday sweet tooth? Leave your tips in the comments.
Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE is a private practice dietitian and food blogger at www.anavocadoaday.blogspot.com. She offers nutrition coaching nationwide via telephone and Skype.