Friday, November 19, 2010

Control the Sweet Cravings

I found this article, written by a dietitian, that features some really good tips on controlling those sweet-tooth cravings.

As she notes, sugary foods can wreak havoc on blood-sugar levels and widen the waistline. In addition, a high intake of added sugar is associated with lower levels of good HDL cholesterol and higher levels of unhealthy triglycerides, as well as metabolic syndrome.

The World Health Organization says that added sugars should make up less than 10 percent of our total calorie intake. The American Heart Association recommends a more stringent daily limit of added sugar: not more than 100 calories for women, 150 calories for men. However, USDA estimates show that most of us consume more than 300 calories of added sugar every day. Yikes!

So here are some steps to prevent those sugary cravings next time they strike:

1. Pay particular attention to how you start your day. A breakfast high in sugary carbs can trigger the cycle of sugar cravings for the rest of the day. Try to eat within two hours of waking, and throughout the day, try not to go longer than four hours without eating. Remember to incorporate appetite-squelching protein-rich, high-fiber foods that contain a little fat with every meal and snack. This will help prevent those mid-afternoon energy slumps that leave you craving sugar.

2. Scan labels and check the nutrition facts for grams of sugar. To put the numbers into perspective, a sugar packet contains 4 grams of sugar. So a large soft drink with 85 grams of sugar would be akin to downing more than 20 packets of sugar.

3. Cut back on the stuff that can really make an impact. There are the obvious cookies, cupcakes, pies and ice cream, but the bigger culprits may be sources of hidden sugars, such as yogurt, coffee drinks, smoothies, cereal, granola bars and "fiber" bars.

4. Find other sweet-tasting snacks such as a protein bar, sugar-free flavored iced coffee, peanut butter and low-sugar jelly sandwich, low-fat plain Greek yogurt with a no-calorie sweetener (like sucralose). Want something sweet after a meal? Try popping a piece of sugarless gum or sipping a cup of coffee, tea or sugar-free hot cocoa. Sugar-free Jello and pudding can also help take the edge off a sweet tooth with little or no calories.

Hopefully some of these tips will get you through the busy holiday season!

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