Hey guys! I’m Dani, a self-proclaimed health-conscious foodie who had successfully failed over 50 diets before moving to Southern California and relearning the art of simple, seasonal, real, whole food. I’m back in my home state of New Jersey now, but I am committed to sharing everything I’ve learned to help others get off their diets and back to real food as a way to reach their health and weight loss goals.
And I don’t know about you, but for me, cutting back on my sugar consumption was a process. Here are my five favorite tips for curbing a wicked sweet tooth:
1. Ditch the fake stuff.
Artificial sweeteners can be 300 times (if not more) sweeter than real sugar. And while they may be calorie free, they really can mess with your palette. They basically bombard our taste buds with such an over the top sweetness, it can be very difficult to then appreciate the subtle, real flavors and sweetness in whole food. In the long run they have you wanting more and more sugar, and that my friends is counter-productive. (Notice I didn’t even begin to touch on the fact they are full of chemicals and correlated with all types of crazy diseases.)
Here’s the deal. Our bodies are crazy smart. Like crazy-crazy. When the body is tired it looks for energy (it is trying to do us a favor) and it knows that the quickest way for energy to get into the body is via sugar. Ever notice that when you are tired you crave processed carbs and/or sweets? This is why. The next time you feel like you need to rest, do yourself a favor and rest.
3. Add more sweet REAL food.
This one is especially true for my dieters and low carb peeps. When we have a diet very low in carbohydrates and sugar we tend to want sweets. By simply adding some nutritious sweet foods to your day you can cut that craving way back. Some great examples are sweet potatoes, squash, brown rice, oats, and carrots. (See my recipe for Simple Sweet Potato Fries below.)
Ok. Are you ready for this one? Both eating too little and too much protein are linked with sugar cravings (how annoying is that?!). So the key is to really become your own detective. If you find yourself craving sugar, just take note of how much protein you have been eating. If it seems high, try cutting back. If it seems low, experiment with adding some more in. I’m telling you, being interested in ourselves is one of the best ways to figure out what our bodies need.
5. Add non-food sweetness.
Oftentimes we reach for sweets because we are looking for a little sweetness in the day. C’mon, fess up! How many of my moms out there love a little chocolate after the kids go to sleep? It’s an easy way to add a sweet moment to the day. But if you are finding that the food-sugar in your life is just too high, ask yourself, “how else can I bring sweetness to my day/life?” It can be a simple as a phone call with a dear friend, a walk, a girls-night out, a great book, journaling, etc. The options are endless, but the key component is that you remember to keep yourself on the top of your own list.
Now, for a yummy recipe to help curb those cravings…
Simple Sweet Potato Fries
This straightforward recipe will provide you with an amazing guilt-free snack.
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- salt to taste
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut the sweet potato into "fry-like" strips and pop them into a large bowl.
Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the sweet potato strips and season with cumin and salt. Gently toss everything together until all the sweet potato strips have a nice light coating of olive oil and spices.
Place a wire-rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and lay the "fries" out on the rack. They can be close together but try not to have them touch or overlap.
Bake for 20 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Enjoy!
Serves 1-2 (depending on how much you like fries).
About the Author
Dani Spies, a health and weight loss coach, is the founder and host of Clean & Delicious, where she shares a weekly cooking show teaching how to make delicious and nutritious food super-easy. You can also find Dani on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Before I started eating whole foods, I never really believed the claims that artificial sweeteners caused you to crave more sugar. But since I changed my diet a few months ago, I know for sure that it is true.
I love the tip about protein, because it’s something I’ve never heard before. For the most part, I no longer crave sweets, but every once in a while I do, and I haven’t been able to figure out the link. I will now look at my protein intake!
Thanks for the recipe of Sweet Potato Fries. It looks simple and yummy. Will you please clarify the last sentence of step 4? It looks like the intention was to say they should NOT overlap or touch.
Beth – thats correct! They should NOT overlap:)
Thanks Beth. I just fixed the post. 🙂
Dani, i recently did a 21 day sugar detox and am very happy and impressed with the easing of food cravings in general and sweets in particular. I feel so much better in every way. Thank you for this information. The older I get the more correlation I see between sleep deprivation and food and behavior issues. It is remarkable and I think your point of paying attention to one’s body and what it really needs is right on point.
Marilyn – Paying attention to our own bodies and making our own conclusions is seemingly the easiest thing to do yet so difficult for so many (including myself). But its all a practice:)
I was told olive oil at a certain temp. Actually acts as a carcinogen. A better alternative is cocnut oil on those fries.????
I meant to post smiley and got question marks instead…. Ugh
I have gone back and forth on this one myself but after plenty of research, I feel ok about baking with olive oil – but with that being said coconut oil would work great and be delicious, so please make it work for you:)
Oops! They are NOT yams. Do some research.
I just updated the post to remove the “yams” comment – thanks for pointing this out. And for the record, the mistake was entirely mine and not Dani’s.
To satisfy my sweet craving, my favorite is a SWEET POTATO SALAD
1/2 c mayo (homemade is bet) mixed with 1 T apple cider vinegar, 1/2 t cumin, 1 T fresh lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste.
Peel 4 sweet potatoes and cut into cubes.
Toss with 2 T melted coconut oil.
Roast on parchment lined baking sheet at 375 for 30 min. Let cool.
dice one avacado
one small red onion chopped fine
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
1/2 apple – chopped.
Mix all ingredients together and let chill.
This recipe looks delicious! Just have to get an avocado and sweet potato and I’ll be all set!
Bev – this sounds delish! I will definitely give it a try:)
The tip about protein is interesting! I know when I crave carbs the most is early afternoon. I’m gonna try adding more protein for lunch to see if it helps
I know -I was fascinated when I learned this. That’s why I always emphasis that we have to be outs own detectives when it comes to food and body:) Ya just never know!
Thanks for the great common sense comments about our bodies. My husband, a doctor, tells his patients all the time that “bodies are smarter than their owners.” We just need to listen…
I have a question about your recipe. I love sweet potato fries but in step 4 you say “try to have them touch or overlap;” I’m assuming you meant “not to touch?”
Eek! Yes – thats right – do not overlap;)
Thank you, Dani!
I’ve known for a long time that eating sugar, real or artificial, leads to sugar cravings. I never knew protein intake affected it. I’ll pay attention to that now.
p.s. Sweet potatoes are my new “go to” food when I something satisfying and filling, baked with a little pepper and plain Greek yogurt. Yum!
That sounds delish! I love them as well , they really are like healthy comfort food:)
Anyone who gives me the go-ahead to take a nap is a genius.
Haha! I can relate:)