Let me tell you that I am no angel when it comes to eating healthy. I have a fully developed sweet tooth and a special fondness for chocolate and ice cream. My fondness for chocolate is unfortunate since I suffer from migraines and chocolate is a known trigger for them.
One of the things that helped me to put on more than 100 pounds since college is my fondness for ice cream. I used to devour entire pints of Haagen Daz Butter Pecan, Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk or Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey in a single sitting. You would think the name of that last ice cream flavor would have given me pause. But it didn’t. Eating a pint of ice cream in a single sitting is easier to do than one would think while under work-related or emotional stress or while sitting mindlessly in front of the television at night.
Ice cream wasn’t the only sweet treat that I would mindlessly consume. I’ve never been a big cookie eater, but I am very partial to the taste of peanuts and chocolate. My favorite candies as a child were Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. As I got older, I grew to love M&M’s Peanuts, Snickers, Payday and Almond Joy candy bars as well.
As an attorney, I work long hours and rarely leave the office before 7:00p.m. Before I started my weight loss journey, every afternoon, around 4:00p.m., I would get hungry and hit the vending machine for something sweet and something salty. I would invariably return to my desk with a candy bar and a bag of chips to tide me over until I could have dinner (usually at 8:00p.m. or 9:00p.m.). The junk food would provide me with a temporary spike in energy followed by a crash and overeating at dinner later on. That’s not to mention the 400 or more empty calories, sugar, fat and sodium I was consuming as a snack every afternoon.
One of the things that helped me to change my eating habits was the fact that a friend of mine referred me to a doctor of Chinese medicine who took me off dairy in an effort to treat my migraines. Suddenly, I could no longer eat ice cream or mindlessly consume milk chocolate candy bars from the vending machine because they contained dairy. I had to find another way to get through that mid-afternoon slump.
Over time, I developed habits to help me keep my sweet tooth from sabotaging my weight loss efforts. The first thing I did was to start taking healthy snacks with me to work to tide me over that late afternoon hurdle and prevent me from attacking the vending machine. I started bringing balanced snacks like fruit and nuts that would provide me with nutrients while also assuaging some of those cravings. So, I might have a banana and some peanut butter, or an apple and a handful of roasted almonds or some baby carrots and hummus or 2.5 oz. of tuna fish and a fruit. If you can eat dairy, you can have low-fat cheese and whole grain crackers, or low-fat yogurt and fruit.
If I am craving chocolate, I find a way to indulge it. I might allow myself the occasional ounce or two of dark chocolate, or I might make a chocolate flavored pb&j smoothie with almond milk, peanut butter, strawberries and cocoa powder and get my fruit, calcium, vitamin E and antioxidants while I’m at it. Or I might have a handful of cocoa-flavored almonds or I might make myself some hot chocolate with Ghirardelli dark cocoa, vanilla flavored almond milk, cinnamon and stevia.
I often have a Vitatops Vitamuffin or VitaBrownie in flavors like Dark Chocolate with Pomegranate and Triple Chocolate Chunk with my after dinner evening tea. They taste delicious, satisfy my chocolate cravings, have only 100 calories each and have the added benefit of providing me with lots of nutrients, including 200mg calcium and 50% of the recommended daily amount of iron and vitamins A, B6, C and E. Some of those flavors do have a little bit of dairy though, so don’t eat them if you absolutely can’t have dairy.
If I have an undeniable craving for ice cream, I go for So Delicious Minis. They come in the form of ice cream sandwiches made of soy or chocolate covered coconut ice cream pops. That way, I satisfy the craving, but still have portion control. I’ve also discovered Purely Decadent ice cream which can be made of either soy or coconut milk and is absolutely delicious. I have to watch that though. It still takes a lot of willpower for me not to take more than one serving of it at a time.
I still sometimes overindulge by giving in to the urge to get a pastry with my afternoon tea or an after lunch dessert if I hit a coffee shop or have lunch with my friends or by eating too much coconut milk ice cream or too much dark chocolate. I just try to balance that out over the course of the day and the course of the week by having a lighter dinner and/or strictly keeping within my WeightWatchers Pointsplus values on other days and/or stepping up the exercise as necessary.
So, you see, it is possible to keep your sweet tooth from sabotaging your weight loss goals. All you have to do is find a way to indulge your cravings without going overboard by finding healthier substitutes, enforcing portion control and finding balance.
Let me know how it goes for you.