We've all had those cravings. You know, the ones for the chocolate bar or the fudge, the chocolate chip cookies or the ice cream.
I have a client who used to take a hard line on cravings. In the end, it did her no favors. She would say no to the piece of chocolate on Friday night only to find herself eating the entire block of dark chocolate, plus a bag of chips the next day. The lesson here is to listen to your cravings and treat them with a healthy medicine to keep them in check and avoid uncontrollable munching.
Here are my six simple ways to help cure your sweet tooth cravings:
1. Try Fresh Fruit.
A mixture of seasonal berries, including blueberries, strawberries and raspberries will not only curb your sweet tooth but is also a great source of filling fiber and powerful antioxidants.
2. Fill up with Greek Yogurt and Cinnamon.
Greek yogurt is packed with calcium and live bacterial cultures. Steer clear of flavored yogurts with unnecessary sugar and add your own zero-calorie topping, cinnamon, instead. Use a tea cup for your yogurt to make sure that you don't overdo the portion size. Many of my clients find that if they reduce their serving size, they are surprisingly just as satisfied without overeating.
3. Spread Low Fat Ricotta on Rice Cakes and Top with Fresh Figs.
Ricotta is a great choice when it comes to cheese options. It is created primarily from whey, a liquid that is created when the curds are separated from the cheese. As a result of this process, ricotta is a light choice and perfect to spread atop your brown rice cakes. Place a dollop of ricotta on rice cakes or corn thins. I like the Real Foods Organic Corn Thins brand that can be found in Whole Foods Market and many health food stores; they are all natural and created by "popping grains of organic corn under high temperature." So you can feel good about popping one of these into your mouth for a satisfying snack.
To treat your sweet tooth, top this healthy snack with freshly sliced figs. Figs are a great source of fiber, as well as being rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. Fresh figs are best, however if they're hard to find, dried figs will suffice. Just be sure they don't contain any unnecessary preservatives -- you want the fig and just the fig.
4. Munch on Frozen Grapes
Growing up, I always looked forward to summer, as it meant that it was time to enjoy frozen grapes. My health-conscious mother would fill containers with washed green and red grapes ready to snack on between meals. Not only will this snack fill your sugar craving, but it's also a pleasant way to stay cool in the summer heat when the ice cream cone is calling your name. To keep it fun for the kids, try filling ice block containers with yogurt and grapes to make healthy, frozen delights that everyone will enjoy. They won't believe that it's not ice cream.
5. Indulge in Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds
Dark chocolate covered almonds are a favorite treat among my clients. They have such an interesting texture and a flavor profile that works extremely well. I like to team three to four of these with a warm cup of green tea. Enjoy just a few of these and see your sugar craving melt away.
6. Bake Oatmeal Cookies
Make your own healthy oatmeal cookies by using a base of steel cut oats, dried fruit, ground chia seeds and ground cashews. My favorite oatmeal cookie recipe uses mashed bananas and hemp seeds. The bananas help to give the cookies shape and the hemp seeds pack a nice dose of protein. Sprinkle your cookies with cinnamon before baking to add extra spice. I also like to use nuts and seeds. Try combining stewed apples with pistachios and top with pumpkin seeds for extra crunch.
Remember, taming that sweet tooth is all about training your taste buds to enjoy natural sweetness from fresh fruits, herbs, nuts and seeds. Don't deprive yourself of what you love- just be mindful of what you eat and be sure to listen to your body by trying these healthy ways to cure your sweet tooth.