Sugar has proven to be harmful, both to your diet and to your health, and if you can live without it, you should. Most nutritionists agree, however, that cutting sugar from your diet completely is impractical and may be unnecessary. If you’re discouraged about your weight-loss plan because you cannot give up sweets, there are strategies that can help you stay on track while indulging at least some of your cravings.
Think before you snack. Weight loss is all about calorie balance. It’s simple: If you consume too many calories, you will gain weight. In a calorie-restricted diet, everything you eat must displace something else you could have eaten. When you can, leave out sweets to make room for more nutritional foods that won’t leave you hungry.
Choose the lesser of two evils. If you must have sweets, go with the one with more health benefits or fewer calories. For example, dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and contains less calories than milk chocolate. Allowing yourself one or two small pieces of dark chocolate to satisfy a craving will not interfere with your diet. If it’s something frozen and creamy you crave, blend bananas with another fruit or berry of your choice and freeze the mixture in ice-cube trays.
A little bit goes a long way. Exceeding your calorie requirement by just 250 calories a day can cause you to gain more than 20 pounds by the end of one year. To combat over-eating, try the following:
- Avoid sweets when you’re hungry. They should be a treat for your taste buds, never something to fill up on.
- When you buy desserts in the grocery store, look for single-serving packages, like ice cream bars or miniature pudding cups.
- Finally, don’t keep desserts in your house if they’ve become too much of a temptation for you. If the craving is strong enough, you’ll leave the house in search of something sweet. Otherwise, stay home.
Establish a reward system. When you exceed your goals for the day, week, or month, make a plan to reward yourself with a special (and small!) dessert at a later date. Is there something you enjoy more than sugar? If you can, come up with your incentives that don't involve food.