As you may remember, I gave up sugar for Lent – not added sugar, but anything that might resemble dessert. And while I’d love to say it was for religious reasons since Lent is a time of meditation, it was more to get over an obscene obsession with sweets following the winter holiday season.
The first couple of weeks giving up sugar were hard. I found myself snacking on anything else I could substitute for sugar. The food victim that suffered the most at my hands was a jar of peanut butter. Yes, you could argue that it has a lot of added sugar and should therefore be considered a cheat. But being that it only has 3 grams of sugar in it and doesn’t fall in the “tasting sweet” category, I used PB as an alternative to gorging on chocolate. Unfortunately, I found myself getting just as addicted to it. I realized it needed to be on the “do not eat” list as well, especially since the scale was creeping up despite my “no sweets” diet thanks to 16 whole grams of fat in that “tiny” serving of PB.
At any rate, I made it to the other side of Lent with my cravings curbed. I also gorged on candy all day Easter Sunday. One piece of chocolate led to an invite to several more pieces of chocolate. And soon I was hosting an all-out chocolate rager in my mouth. Obviously I still need to keep strict restrictions on my sugar intake. But luckily, I came out of this experience with a few tips for curbing the sugar cravings, as well as mindless snacking that leads to unaccounted calories throughout the day.
1. Green smoothies. I have fallen in love with this little concoction. It’s a mixture of veggies and fruit to create a sweet snack without adding sugar, and while also getting the proper amount of veggies in my diet. As someone who is not very good at eating her greens, this has been my lifesaver! I make a large cup of it in the morning and sip it throughout the day to keep me from reaching for the salty or sweet snacks. And because it’s so filling, I’m not tempted to cheat. Of course, I have yet to find the exact recipe to entice my kids to enjoy these as well since I’m trying not add anything to sweeten it besides berries or bananas. But I’m getting closer. My personal favorite is banana and kale with a little almond milk and wheat germ. But you can make it as simple as adding one serving fruit to one serving veggie, and just adding water. For some healthy smoothie ideas (green or not), visit our forum discussion at SantaRosaMom.com.
2. Plan it out. If you take the time out in the morning to list all the foods you are allowed in the day, and even when you can eat them, it will help to keep you from cheating against it with mindless snacking. If you’re going to work, pack a lunch every day to avoid eating out and consuming too many calories. Stagger your eating so that you don’t have a chance to get too hungry. An empty stomach can cause you to make bad food choices, so always allow for healthy snacks like a lower calorie yogurt (my favorites are Light Yoplait at 100 calories, or the Light Dannon at 60 calories), fruit, cut up veggies, or a small plate of lunch meat and a string cheese. And get in the habit of writing down everything you eat so that you’re holding yourself accountable.
3. Water yourself. Always keep a large water at your side, and drink it liberally. Many times when we’re hungry, we’re actually dehydrated. Our bodies need more water than many of us are supplying it with, so increasing your water intake is a great habit to get into. At first, it might be hard. But once you get used to drinking more water, you’ll find that you actually crave it. Also, it’s a good idea to limit the amount of other drinks you’re having as you increase your water intake. Nix the sodas and fancy coffees – drinks that add way too many calories to your diet for being just liquid – and drink water instead.
4. Do something – anything! I found that at times I was sitting around and bored, that’s when I wanted to snack the most. But when I was busy, I didn’t even find the desire to snack. I recently took up running, and the motivation from this simple form of exercise has motivated me to think twice before snacking as I feel more energized and way healthier than ever before. Of course, there will still be times when sitting and doing nothing is necessary. But make rules or habits that will curb mindless snacking – like no eating in the living room (to keep from grazing while watching TV), or busying your hands with knitting or the like.
5. Check out the additional tips we have listed over at SantaRosaMom.com.
What are some ways you curb mindless grazing?