You’re trying to eat healthy, but you can’t seem to tame your sweet tooth. You’re not alone, and you’re in luck — registered dietitian Jill Fulk, RDN, LD, CDE, program coordinator of diabetes education at OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital, has some tips to help you satisfy that craving without the guilt.
“Rather than choosing sugary snacks that provide little nutritional value, go for something that will provide more fiber, healthy plant fats and protein,” she advises. “These foods have some sustainability to them, so you won’t have that crash that can come from refined sugar. The important thing is to prevent mindless eating and find something that really satisfies you.”
Keep Healthy Snacks Handy
To make it easier when temptation strikes, she says, start with the basics and keep it simple. For instance:
- Keep a bowl of fresh fruit out on the counter, and keep it stocked with your favorites.
- Try frozen fruits when your favorites are out of season. If you buy canned, check the ingredients to avoid added sugar.
- Stock your refrigerator with different kinds of yogurt at eye level. Or keep Greek yogurt in the freezer for a healthy alternative to ice cream.
- Freeze grapes or bananas for a cool, quick, sweet bite. You can blend frozen bananas for a creamy consistency.
- Try natural nut butters, and make sure to check the ingredients. You want just the nuts and a maybe a little salt — no added sugars or fats. Or try grinding your own with a coffee grinder. Some stores will grind nuts into butter for you.
- If nothing but chocolate will do, have a square or two of dark chocolate with 60 or 70 percent cacao. It’s full of antioxidants and more satisfying than milk chocolate, so you’re less likely to overindulge. Try it with a bit of natural peanut butter.
At Work and on the Go
That afternoon slump can lead to mindless snacking if you’re not prepared. Packing snacks for yourself and your family can keep you from hitting the vending machine.
Try making your own trail mix with nuts, raisins and dried fruit. Pack it in small portions; ¼ cup of trail mix averages about 175 calories, and healthy fat is still fat.
Again, fresh fruit is your friend — it’s easy to pack and easy to eat. Nature sometimes knows best.
Fancier Snacks and Desserts
You don’t have to give up cooking sweet snacks and desserts. Try something simple like baked apples with cinnamon. Use whole grains, such as rolled oats, instead of refined flour. If you must add a sweetener, stick with natural sources such as honey, real maple syrup or agave nectar, and use only a small amount.
“I often use dates for added sweetness, and they’ve got a good consistency,” Fulk says.
Here’s one of her favorite recipes: Peanut Butter Oat Energy Balls
Ideas for Kids
It can be hard to say no to your kids, but early eating habits set the course for life. A little indulgence now and then is OK, but teach moderation. And don’t use sweets as a reward. Keep healthy snacks at their eye level, and keep the candy, cookies and pastries out of reach. Check out these sites for more ideas:
Looking for more healthy treats? Check out our recipe roundup of healthy treats for the whole family!