Eating healthy and eating sweets seem to be contradictory ideas. Part of the problem is that most sweets, as implied by the term, are saturated with processed sugars. Whether processed or not, sugar is highly addictive and functions similarly to nicotine and cocaine. While consuming processed sugar itself is no different than any other caloric intake, most sweets contain added fats like butter.
The consumption of fats, sugars and carbs affects your levels of hormones like insulin, which alters when energy from food is deposited into fat cells, and leptin, which affects when you feel full. With all that said, it's still possible to have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here are several ways you can remain healthy without giving up sweets.
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1. Eat naturally sweet fruits.
The most foolproof way is to eat naturally sweet fruits. In contrast to refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup found in most sweets, the sugars in fruit are metabolized much more slowly. Additionally, fruits have other benefits, like vitamins, mineral and fiber.
2. Consider sugar substitutes.
Okay, fine. Fruit is probably pretty low on your list when you're craving something. Perhaps you can add to honey to compensate? Honey is a natural sugar that also happens to include a host of benefits, such as anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties and antioxidants. It's also cholesterol-, fat- and sodium-free. Studies have also shown that honey can also promote weight loss.
If fruit really isn't your thing, some bakeries now offer sugar-free options made with artificial sweeteners like Stevia, a zero-calorie and cholesterol-free substitute that is actually sweeter than regular sugar, and doesn't affect metabolism or eating habits. The only caveat is that sugar substitutes like Stevia can alter the ideal texture of a batter or dough.
3. Eat other foods that help stave off sugar cravings.
Besides fruit, there are other foods that aren't necessarily sweet but can still help you stave off sugar cravings. Cinnamon, for example, can help normalize your blood sugar levels because it contains a chemical called hydroxychalcone that enhances the regulatory effects of insulin. Romaine lettuce can also help stave off sugar cravings because of chromium, a mineral that helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
4. You know what? Just have a cheat day.
If you really must, then go ahead. Have a slice of cake or a donut or an ice cream sundae – just not all three at the same time.
Studies have shown that indulging on the occasional chocolate-covered and sprinkle-laden treat really isn't the end of the world if you otherwise maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Furthermore, it can help stave off future cravings stemming from deprivation, as long as you consume said sweets in moderation.