You may think that because we’re veggie, ginger and turmeric-loving registered dietitian nutritionists that we’d have no room for a sweet tooth. Ha! If only! We have a killer sweet tooth that we work hard to keep in check. We’ve always said we inherited our strong affinity for sweets (to put it mildly) from our Grandma Bubbles who was known in our family for her love of sugar. As kids we wondered how it was possible that any kid wouldn’t sneak sweets every time they were left home alone with a sitter (here’s looking at you, chocolate chips)! Now, we understand what draws someone to the foods they adore, and we’ve spent years seeking out the best strategies to help keep those foods from getting the best of them. We’re all for enjoying your favorite sweets in moderation (gosh knows we do!) but, it’s priceless to know how to tame your inner sugar beast without any added sweetener. 🙂
Here’s how to do it:
1) Prevent your energy from ever getting so low that you need a quick pick-me up (sugar).
This is critical for us (and our clients). Personally, if we don’t eat right or sleep well, our energy dips and it’s easy to succumb to chocolate.
• Fiber and protein at all meals and snacks are a must! This is the magic combo that provides longer-lasting fuel, stabilizes blood sugar, preventing highs and crashes—and the energy dips that come with them.
• Avoid very sugary foods, like sodas, candies, jello and jellies. These give you a high, followed by a crash, signaling your brain that you need an energy boost.
• Do your best to get seven hours of sleep.
2) Reset your sweet tooth palate.
This may be the golden ticket: once you start eating sugary foods, you quickly adjust and less sweet foods no longer satisfy your taste buds. In our current American food culture, most store-bought foods have high levels of added sugar to accommodate taste buds that have adapted to and expect highly sweetened food.
• Be proactive. Train your taste buds to become accustomed to a “less” sweet load. (Think of working out; you train your body to become accustomed to a different work load). It’s easier than you think!
o Great news: everyone’s taste buds regenerate in about 10 days1.
This means if you have a sweet tooth (or a salt tooth for that matter!) and you consistently enjoy foods that aren’t as sweet (or aren’t as salty) compared to what you’re accustomed to, after about 10 days you’ll find that foods that are very high in sugar (or salt) will taste too sweet (or too salty).
We constantly reset our sweet palate. It works like a charm! 🙂
3) Use naturally sweet foods (without added sugars) to help recalibrate your palate.
While your taste buds are “re-calibrating”, healthier stand-ins for traditional sweets are an amazing way to indulge your sweet tooth while staying on track! Fruits are naturally sweet and as an added bonus, they’re packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber; they’re a great snack for replacing traditional sweets when your cravings hit. As you limit very sweet flavors, your taste buds will “reset” themselves; sugary sweets will start tasting less sweet so you won’t crave the super sweet foods you once did, you’ll actually start enjoying your new, healthier, less sugary sweets. Check out three desserts that squash a sweet tooth without added sugar.
If you notice that your palate is accustomed to very sweet foods and substituting fruit is a struggle for you, start with baked fruit. When you bake fruits, their natural sweetness comes to the surface and taste super delish.
• Similarly, take advantage of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, fenugreek and ginger-that bring a natural sweetness.
Try our naturally sweet (no sugar-added) recipes:
Baked Apple (89 calories, no sugar-added)
Skinny Speedy Walnut Oatmeal Cookies (55 calories)
Easy Healthy Strawberry Mint “Ice Cream” (40 calories)
Lyssie’s daily obsession: Apple “pie” (just the inside of the pie-no crust)
4) Enjoy a “Clean-Your-Palate” drink before you indulge in a sweet food to “reset” your palate.
While we haven’t seen research testing this, we find it to be very helpful for us and for our clients. We’ve created these drinks for several years, knowing that they help to both curb sweet cravings and help reset a sweet tooth. These drinks can be slightly sweet, satisfying a craving with very few, if any calories, and they fill the stomach with water to bring on satiety and fullness so you can be better equipped to make wise snack choices and avoid overindulging on sweets. Sipping a slightly bitter and spicy beverage, like this Spicy Metabolism Booster before a sweet treat can help you appreciate the sweetness of your indulgent food, and can aid your taste buds so that less sweet foods are more satisfying.
Drinks like these have become so important in the success of our clients that we’ve even included them as an important part in our 21-Day Body RebootTM, our life-altering program that helps you to lose your last 10 pounds and more (& keep it off!)—while going wild on the weekend! We call them Clean-ToxTM drinks because they work especially well in helping the body in its’ natural detox process as you eat, wholesome, “clean” (aka, unprocessed) food.
Another Clean-ToxTM drink to try Apple Cider Vinegar & Lime “Detox” Drink
Does your DNA play a part in your sweet tooth?
If since your early days, you’ve found yourself drawn to sweets, your DNA may be behind it. (We personally, didn’t need a DNA test for this one, simply knowing that we’d end up meeting our Grandma Bubbles in front of whatever dessert was around was proof enough! 😉 )
• You may have a FGF21 gene variant. A study published in Cell Metabolism shows that if you have a variant of this gene, you are 20% more likely to enjoy and seek out sugary substances.
• You may not be a “super-taster.” Other research has shown that some people (25% of the population) are what are called “super-tasters,” and these people are extremely sensitive to bitter foods. Super-tasters are more sensitive to bitter tastes simply because they have more taste papillae and taste receptors on their tongues that make them more sensitive to bitter tastes. They’re also more sensitive to sweet, salty and umami tastes, but to a lesser extent. They tend to have a reduced preference for sweet and high fat foods. (Super-tasters also tend to consume more salt then non-tasters because salt masks bitter flavors.)
Remember: It’s possible to learn to like healthier, less sugary sweets, even if you have a deep-rooted sweet tooth and no matter what kind of taster you are!
Super-tasters, non-tasters and everyone in between have one thing in common; their taste buds regenerate in about 10 days. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16843606
• The great news is that none of us are doomed by our sweet- tooth genetics. We’re proof in the chocolate pudding! 😉 And with the tricks we mentioned above, even if you find sweets to be the ultimate enticement, you can squash your sweet tooth without adding sugar.