Some of us (Samantha) are perfectly fine with having salty snacks for dessert. And then some of us (Ashlyn) can't function without something sweet at the end of the day.
But we all know that processed sugar is one of healthy eating's greatest villains. And since this is America, evil is everywhere.
So how do you strike a balance between getting your sugar fix and staying on track with your meal plan?
The first thing we're gonna say is: everything in moderation. If you're at your grandma's 99th birthday party or your third cousin's bar mitzvah, you can have a slice of cake without wrecking your goals. Life is full of ridiculously amazing "unhealty" things and treating yourself every once in a while will keep you from binge eating later.
The real question is, where does that leave your sugar cravings the other 6 days of the week?
Let's start by busting some common myths about sugar and weight loss.
"I Want To Lose Weight, So I Cut All Sugar Out of My Diet--Including Fruit!"
The sugar in fruit is developed naturally. Yes, that sugar is a carbohydrate that will spike your blood sugar. But the blood sugar spike that comes with eating fruit is significantly less than the spike you'd experience when you eat candy.
Although fruit has sugar, it also has fiber that counteracts the blood sugar spike. Fruit also offers vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients your body needs.
Certain fruits can even assist you in staying hydrated. The spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietics, Jim White, said a single cup of blackberries can assist with daily hydration requirements because they're 80% water.
If you still aren't convinced, there are studies out there that show people who eat fruit weigh less and are less susceptible to disease.
TL; DR: eat fruit.
"Chocolate Will Make Me Fat, So No More Chocolate!"
Well, too much chocolate certainly won't help you achieve your goals as quickly as you like. But, can you really imagine a life without chocolate ever again?
The truth is that the more processed a chocolate is, the worse it is for you. This is devastating news for white chocolate lovers, so if you need a moment we get it.
Milk chocolate? Also not so good. White and milk chocolate varieties are usually loaded up with artificial sugars and sweeteners to make it less bitter.
This is where dark chocolate swoops in to save the day.
The darker the chocolate (higher cocoa percentage), the better it will be for you. Now this isn't a free pass to go shove two large dark chocolate bars into your mouth in the name of health. The word of the day is moderation, remember?
Eating a bit of dark chocolate has been shown to help lower blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, and improve HDL, LDL. and total cholesterol levels. One particular study even showed that people who eat dark chocolate frequently have a lower BMI than those who don't.
Having a few squares of dark chocolate will also keep your sweet tooth sated.
If you're cringing at the idea of eating a super dark chocolate, start with a lower cocoa percentage and work your way up. The darker, the better, but you also want to enjoy what you eat.
TL; DR: eat some dark chocolate.
"Sugar Is Bad, So I'll Switch to Artificial Sweeteners."
This one is... complicated.
If you ever saw a diagram that showed you how many grams of sugar were in a soda bottle, you probably thought "Oh Sh-" and switched to diet. But diet soda just replaces sugar with artificial sweetener.
Or, if you love to bake but you wanted a lower-calorie option, you've probably purchased a big ol' bag of zero-calorie sweetener.
No calories = no problem, right?
Don't shoot the messenger guys.
Just because something is "low calorie" or "calorie free" doesn't mean it's good for you.
With the health craze that threw sugar under the bus, food manufacturers had to quickly adapt to offer products that were "healthy" but still tasted good.
The result was sugar-free foods that were sweetened with one of many artificial sweeteners. If you look at the labels for yogurt. breakfast sausage, English muffins, and more, you'll see things like aspartame, stevia, and sucralose on the ingredients list.
Low or no-calorie sweeteners have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and cancer. Some studies have even indicated that artificial sweeteners are more addictive than sweeteners and give dieters a false sense of security.
We honestly can't give you a definitive answer on this one because more research needs to be done in the science world.
If you're competing or on a cut for fitness reasons, Stevia is your best bet as far as artificial sweeteners go.
The best advice we can give you is to limit your sugar consumption-real or artificial. If you choose to indulge in sugar, it's probably best to eat it in the most natural form possible.
Like everything else, having a Diet Coke every day isn't great for your overall health, but it's okay to enjoy it every once in a while. We promise it won't kill you.
TL; DR: All sugar is not great, so moderate.
So What Can I Eat To Satisfy My Sweet Tooth?
The good news is that you don't have to go cold turkey on sweet things for the sake of weight loss. The type of sweet things you eat may simply look different.
Reduced Sugar Dessert Ideas:
→ Dark chocolate dipped strawberries
→ Apples with peanut butter
→ Dark chocolate covered almonds
→ Banana with almond butter
→ Greek yogurt with berries
→ Smoothie/Shake like we share below
The best thing you can do when grocery shopping is to check labels for any added sugars. They can lurk in yogurts and nut butters, so check out the ingredients list before you buy. The closer "Added Sugar" is to 0, the better it will be for you.
It's also helpful to make your own treats at home. If you need tips on how to melt dark chocolate, shoot us a message and Ashlyn will help you out.
We wanted to share a couple of our favorite recipes with you to get you started!
Trader Joes Fruit Smoothie
• 1 cup frozen mixed berry blend
• 1 cup frozen tropical fruit blend
• 1/2 cup honey greek yogurt
• 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond beverage
• 1 tbsp almond butter (optional)
• 1 tbsp flax or chia seed (optional)
Throw everything in a blender and let it rip. If you want the consistency to be thicker, use less almond milk. If you want it to be thinner, use more almond milk. Enjoy with a straw or spoon. (Can you tell this is Ashlyn's recipe?)
• 4 frozen overripe bananas
• 1/4 cup almond or other nut butter
• 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
• 2 tbsp chocolate protein powder
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 1/4 tsp instant coffee (optional)
• 1 tsp xanthan gum
Throw everything in the blender and blend until totally smooth. Enjoy immediately or throw in the freezer for an hour to get the perfect ice cream scoop.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out. We're here to help.
Share your favorite healthy dessert options in the comments below!