Oh, those stressful afternoons that somehow force your feet to the office vending machine where the candy bars and packaged cookies just seem to call your name. And while your heart is craving sugary sweets, your head knows that sugar consumption leads to weight gain and increased inflammation that can lead to early signs of aging on your skin. So what can you do?
“If you’re really craving something sweet, pop a piece of sugar-free gum,” says New York nutritionist, Tanya Zuckerbrot, creator of The F-Factor Diet. “Bonus: Chewing gum for one hour burns 11 calories.”
If you’d like to add some sweetness without the sugar or concerns about artificial flavoring, she also suggests cinnamon, agave nectar, honey or fruit puree instead. “Although a healthier alternative for natural sweeteners, these still contain calories and should be used in moderation when adding to foods,” she adds. “One tablespoon of honey contains 70 calories and 17 grams of carbohydrates. However, a dash of cinnamon has zero calories, while a teaspoon only contains six calories, and is an excellent source of fiber and in fact, a recent study by Diabetes Care found that cinnamon actually improved glucose and lipids of those with type 2 diabetes.”
If you’re considering reaching for a packaged “sugar-free” alternative, think again, Zuckerbrot says. “Sugar-free does not mean carbohydrate-free or calorie-free. Artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes are found in a variety of ‘diet’ foods in the marketplace such as baked goods, beverages and candy. These products contain sugar alcohols, which have calories and carbohydrates. Label reading comes into play when choosing sugar-free foods.”
Want to kick your sugar cravings to the curb for good? Zuckerbrot says time may be the thing you need most. “Your taste buds change every two weeks or so, so one of the easiest ways to kick your habit is to lay off of your favorites for a couple weeks,” she says. “Once you detox your body from sugar, your cravings for it will decrease. In that time you’ll find new favorites!”
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