Contrary to popular belief, a sweet tooth can be compatible with a healthy diet and weight loss, so long as you follow a few guidelines of sensible sugar consumption.
Stay sugar savvy by avoiding the classic snacktime traps and steering clear of hidden low-quality sugars. Choose fruit with a low glycemic index and look for low-calorie desserts. Ultimately, the golden rule for fans of sweet treats is to make quality the priority.
Ditch industrially made desserts
Sugars added to industrially made products — including fructose and glucose — can be hard to avoid in the supermarket aisles.
The golden rule for sweet-toothed shoppers is to go for quality. Several studies — including recent research from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in the USA, published in April — have highlighted the damaging effects that sugar can have on the body and the negative effects of fructose on metabolism and the brain.
It’s therefore best to avoid industrially make cakes and pastries, cream desserts, ice creams, fruit yogurts full of artificial sweeteners, or fruit purees and jams that contain less than 50 per cent fruit.
As for drinks, ditch sodas, carbonated drinks and drinks with added sugar, as well as fruit juice and smoothies. These can contain as much sugar as the maximum recommended daily intake for children, a recent British study found.
Stick to low GI fruit
Health recommendations encourage everyone to eat five servings of fruit or vegetables per day. However, it’s not always clear how best to pick those five a day.
Try to avoid filling your plate with high glycemic index (GI) fruit that will send blood sugar levels rocketing. Swap bananas, dates, pineapple and mango for red berries (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries), apples, pears, oranges, grapefruit, peaches and nectarines.
Tip: cinnamon is known to lower blood sugar levels. It can be used to sweeten coffee or tea, or sprinkled onto yogurt or fromage frais.
Pick lighter options for dessert
To avoid feelings of frustration from depriving yourself of dessert, try making a list of the lightest options and highlight what you like. You’ll soon find a whole load of ways to get that all-important sugar hit with good-quality sugar and without loading up on calories.
There are plenty of flavors of sorbet out there, for example, which can be just as satisfying ice cream. Switching scoops cuts calories from 100 to 50 (per scoop). Also, it’s better to ditch crèmes brûlée, chocolate mousse and chocolate cakes (300 calories) for crème caramel, custard tart (180 calories) or apple tart (100 calories).
Tip: some stores and bakeries make special diabetic cakes, which contain half the sugar of regular cakes.
Reach for homemade snacks
Instead of reaching for store-bought chocolate bars or biscuits when hunger strikes, try taking a little time to prepare your own home-made snacks.
Try filling a small box with dried fruit, two squares of dark chocolate per day or crystallised ginger.
If you really want to treat yourself to a satisfying dessert, then make your own. For options that are healthy and tasty, look for recipes using wholewheat flour and sweetened with fruit or fruit puree.