5 Tricks for Treat Eaters
October 27, 2014
Craving sweets this—or any—time of year can be a scary prospect when you're looking to lose weight. Here's how to be savvier about sugary treats.
A lot of cravings are physiological in nature. (You may crave salty foods after an intense workout if your adrenal glands, which are responsible for sodium retention and regulation, aren't functioning properly). But when it comes to sweets, it's more likely that you're conditioned to have dessert after dinner or later in the evening, when you are looking for a comforting treat.
This time of year, candy is ubiquitous, so if you're prone to sweets, have a plan in place for crushing candy cravings. Here are four "Do's" and a "Don't" to get you through the season without a frightening gain.
DO: Frontload fruits. Because blood sugar tends to be lower early in the day, have fruit with breakfast and as part of your mid-morning snack. Then stick to crudité and hummus or dip for your afternoon snack. If you're hungry after hours, try some edamame or snow pea pods to decrease the likelihood of dipping a hand into the kids' Halloween candy stash.
DO: Wait it out. When the peanut butter cups you bought to hand out this year are calling your name from the kitchen cabinet, take a time out. Tell yourself that if you're still hungry in 20 minutes, you'll have the snack. If you delay rather than deny the craving, often times it will go away.
DO: Make dinner a little sweeter. It seems counterintuitive, but putting a smattering of dried currants in your couscous or Craisins in your salad—or simply garnishing your dinner plate with a few berries or orange slices—can trick your brain into thinking it's had dessert so you won't be reaching for pudding or pie after the meal.
DO: Downsize your treats. If you employ all of the above strategies and still can't shake your candy craving, choose a smaller portion. The World Health Organization recommends making treats no more than 10% of your total daily calorie intake (i.e., 1,400 calories daily = a 140-calorie treat). Dipping fruit in dark chocolate is a good way to satisfy a sweet tooth while still fitting in some good nutrients. If it's ice cream you want, try freezing bananas and throwing them in a blender with a splash of almond milk for a satisfying treat.
DON'T: Give handouts. Yes, it's fun to see the neighborhood kids all dressed up—but not at the expense of your weight loss. If you don't feel comfortable having an overflowing candy bowl at arm's length on Halloween night, leave the bowl outside your front door. Rather than greeting little ghosts and goblins, do something good for yourself like going to the gym or getting a massage.
3 Solid Candy Choices and Lower-Calorie Alternatives
When it comes to indulging in an occasional treat during Halloween season, the best rule of thumb is to practice moderation. Though extra "sweet" calories are inevitable, making the best choices possible can help you stay on track during these spooky times.
Here are a few picks to help curb your sweet tooth and save on calories:
Dum Dum Lollipops: These small pops in flavors like cotton candy and cherry have only 20 calories, 0 grams of fat and less than 4 grams of sugar each.
Smarties: One roll of the mouth-puckering mini-packs has 25 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 5 grams of sugar.
Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kiss: If you are craving chocolate, choose just one Hershey's Kiss, which has only 26 calories, 1.4 g fat and 2.3 grams of sugar.
Popcorn with some Sweetness: There are new brands every day in the popcorn aisle, but two of my favorites are Boom Chicka Pop (120 calories per 4 cup serving, 5.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of sugar) and Skinny Girl Kettle corn. Or, if you prefer cheese flavoring, try the White Cheddar Chipotle (130 calories for 3 cups, 5 grams of fat, 0 grams of sugar). For a peanut butter delight without all of the chocolate, try Earth Balance P.B. Popps with 130 calories, 6 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein and 8 grams of sugar per 1-ounce serving.
York Peppermint Minis: Move over Patty, as these minis are more fun to eat with 10 pieces in a serving size, all for just 150 calories, 3.5 grams of fat and 25 grams of sugar. To make these minis last even longer, freeze them. This way they take longer to eat, so you can let the minty chocolate flavor linger as long as possible. (Tip: Freezing works well for grapes and banana slices too, allowing their sweetness linger as well).
Sweet Cinnamon Crunchy Chickpeas: Made by The Good Bean, these are a crispy, crunchy flavor-packed treat. You get sweet zing, with 5 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat and 6 grams of sugar in a 1-ounce 130-calorie serving.
Meringue Cookies: Though the meringue has been around forever, Miss Meringue low-fat Meringue Chocolate Chip cookies are quite hip. A serving of four cookies has only 120 calories and 1.5 grams of fat. Though the sugar content is high (24 grams), this could be considered your sugar splurge for the night.
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