Sweet cravings will be excitingly satiated with all the chocolate and cookies passing around this time of year. You intend to have just one piece or slice that ends up being a plateful of treats. Or, perhaps you are planning to bring something you’ve baked to the dessert potluck and you think, “Well, I won’t have much at the party because I’ve snacked on my homemade sweets all day.” The truth is that we over indulge just because we can. However, come January our jeans are snug and the muffin top is poppin’, and we wonder why.
Desserts can have mounds of sugar and may be wonderful for that moment on the lips but will settle in quite nicely to those hips. Sugar, unused for energy, will turn to fat and it is so much harder to work off than it was to put on. Nevertheless, without deprivation you can still have your cake and eat it. You just have to be smart about your indulgences. Here are a few suggestions:
1) If baking desserts at home try using Stevia as a sugar substitute which has less of an impact on elevating blood sugar than regular table sugar. This will keep the muffin top at bay.
2) When planning to go to a party, eat a meal or snacks rich in healthy fats before heading out. This will help you stay full longer, preventing you from eating too many sweets.
3) Do not use a plate! If you have one you will fill it up. Instead, place what you would like to eat on a napkin thereby limiting your quantity.
4) If you are going to indulge in sweets aim for one that gives you more bang for your buck. Go for dark chocolate! Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, especially when it’s minimally processed. In fact, carry a few pieces in your purse so your need to satisfy your craving isn’t as intense.
5) It is controversial whether eating fiber rich foods will block sugar absorption. What it will do for sure is two things: one, it will slow down digestion, meaning that it won’t spike your blood sugar as quickly as without; and two, it will make you feel full faster. Both are a win-win in my book. Fiber rich foods include apples, whole grains and vegetables. Stop at that tray first.
6) Don’t be a wall flower, sitting in one place while celebrating the holidays. Keep moving and burn some extra calories. Start the beloved Soul Train line or stay on the ping pong table. You could also enlist a friend or family member to take a walk with you around the block.
Remember, you can have your cake and eat it too! Just be mindful about how you put in play a “go team desserts” game plan.
Words: Dr. Lisa Hollingsworth-Upshaw