No Thanks, Sweety: Im Losing Weight

Dealing with your sweet-tooth can be one of the greatest challenges to a successful weight loss or fat loss battle.

It has been suggested that drinking a large glass of water can help you get past a time when you were tempted to binge on sweets or some other unhealthy snack. While this is valid and true, sometimes water just doesn't make the cut. We're going to discuss some healthy ways that you can satisfy your longing for something sweet.

The World Health Organization issued an obesity alert suggesting that we limit our intake of "added sugar" to 10% of our total calories. Since most of us don't eat granulated sugar by the tablespoonful, we need to watch carefully for sugar to rear its ugly head.

Sugar can be found in many processed foods, sauces, soups, condiments, beverages and just about anything you consume. The problem is that many times the product you purchase doesn't have a flashing neon sign that says "SUGAR IN HERE!" You need to be a bit of a detective and check the ingredients for sugar.

Sugar is stealthy and operates under a number of different aliases. Watch for sugar to appear in the form of:

- raw sugar, cane sugar, white sugar

- corn syrup, high fructose variety or plain

- molasses or honey

To gauge how much of an issue this sugar problem has become, contemplate this... In 1980, the average American consumed approximately 123 pounds of sugar each year. As of 1999, this number increased to 158 pounds per person! That's nearly a 30% increase over a 20-year period.

Here are a couple ways the experts at the American Dietetic Association recommend getting some extra sweetness without picking up a bunch of extra pounds.

This tip is found in the book titled 365 Days of Healthy Eating from the American Dietetic Association (Wiley 2004), Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, FADA, CFCS.

"Have a sweet tooth? Nibble a sweet potato!

Think about this. One-half cup of sweet potatoes delivers more beta-carotene (antioxidant) than 12 cups of broccoli. Sweet potatoes also supply vitamin E, another antioxidant, and potassium, too. Raw sweet potatoes make an easy low-calorie, nearly fat-free snack. They deliver fiber, even more than with the peel on. Sweet potatoes give a no-sugar-added sweetness to a meal, and cooking makes them sweeter yet.

Sometime this week, do this with sweet potatoes:

- Blend cooked and chilled sweet potatoes in breakfast smoothies. (Quick tip: Use canned sweet potato puree.)

- Cut them in strips for oven-baked fries.

- Substitute sweet potatoes for white potatoes or apples in recipes."

Another great source of sweetness-without-guilt can be fruit juice. It comes in dozens of delectable flavors and combinations, but beware... all fruit juice is not created equally! Check the labels and purchase only juice that contains "100% Fruit Juice".

Fruit that is used for juice can ripen well beyond the point that it's store-bought whole fruit brothers and sisters can ripen. Because of this, you can get all of the sweetness you desire, without any added sugar.

According to the American Dietetic Association, it is possible to convince your taste buds that you've added sweetness to your food by pairing up certain spices with certain foods. The idea here is that we might be able to ward off the desire for sweets by "convincing" your palate that you've already had some.

The philosophy is that certain spices will enhance the natural sweet flavors of certain foods, thus making you feel as though you have experienced sugar or honey, when in fact you have not.

If you don't mind the thought of playing head-games with yourself, read on...

1. Use ginger in combination with fruit and fruit glazes to accentuate the natural sweetness of the fruit.

2. Try adding cinnamon to your morning breakfast cereal or oatmeal. Breakfast cereal can be a good and filling morning meal as long as it isn't heavily sugared when it is made or prepared. Cinnamon, sprinkled on top of the cereal, will complement the starches in the grains in a way that accentuates the sweetness.

3. Add some nutmeg or cinnamon to cookies and rice. The nutmeg produces a flavorful "bite" that enhances the sugar, while the cinnamon does the same for cooked rice. The rice/cinnamon combination can even be enjoyed as a dessert.

4. If you haven't given up caffeine, adding some spice to your coffee or tea that might preclude the need for cream or sugar. Try mixing and matching the following as you brew up the next pot: cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice and ginger.

5. Use vanilla to add a sweet flavor to things. Vanilla can be added to coffee, puddings and baked goods of all types.

6. Try seasoning cooked carrots with cinnamon. Steam the carrots, drain them, then sprinkle with cinnamon, toss and serve. If you have kids, reserve some without cinnamon and give them a few of each. Ask them whether they prefer the "regular" carrots or the "sweet" carrots. Giving them a choice will help to prevent them from rejecting them outright as something "strange" or new.

7. Serve sweet potatoes instead of potatoes or rice. Adding some cinnamon to the sweet potatoes will help accentuate the natural sweetness and might remind you of a Thanksgiving treat! No marshmallows though!

You will have to experiment with the amounts and types of spices that you use. Start with a little and add more as you go. Variety is the spice of life. Let spice add variety to your healthy cooking so that your life can be longer and healthier!

References:
American Dietetic Association
http://www.eatright.org

Michael Callen is the author of the Weekly Weightloss Tips Newsletter (ccwebgroup.com/tips) and the Chief Technology Officer for WellnessPartners.com, an online retailer of dozens of health and wellness products such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), r+ alpha lipoic acid (R+ ALA), and Green Tea Extract.

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