We can pretty much all agree on one thing-- desserts are delicious. Every once in a while, you'll meet someone who says they don't like chocolate, and you just can't help but stare at them in DISBELIEF. But I'll bet you even that person will love some other type of dessert.
Our brains are wired to love sweets! This is because sugar is nutrient-dense and more difficult to come by in nature.
Our ancestors, when starving, would seek out nutrient-dense foods, like berries and other sweets to survive. This was a great mechanism in place for our survival, but NOW we have sweets everywhere! So our brains are still loading up, "I NEED SUGAR," but instead of us finding it few and far between it's everywhere we turn and we're more likely to overindulge. I mean, after all, it was just beckoning you over to eat it, right?
But sweets AREN'T EVIL when you take the right precautions.
Here are some guidelines to consider:
1. TIME OF DAY
Eat your dessert at lunch. Your body needs the majority of its energy before 2 pm so it is primed to burn calories. If you eat dessert at night your body is in clean up mode and will not have the digestive fire to burn off the dessert.
2. PORTION SIZE
You cannot get away with eating half a sleeve of Oreo cookies or a giant Cinnabon every day. The portion size I'm talking about is 1/2 cup max. If you aren't sure how much that is look at a measuring cup (or if you weight your food it will be 4 oz.).
There are three macro-nutrients: carbs, fats, & proteins. In short, carbs digest the quickest, then proteins, then fats. It is best to combine sweets with proteins and fats so you don't get a sugar rush and crash. What now you ask? Dark chocolate with peanut butter, coconut ice cream with berries and pecans, an apple with almond butter & chocolate chips, or how about Medjool dates dipped in cashew butter sprinkled with cinnamon? 4th YOUR GOAL What's your goal? Do you want to be comfortable in a bikini on your next vacation? Do you want to be able to run 2 miles without dying? Or be able to keep up with your toddler that never seems to run out of energy? Keep your goal at the forefront of your mind. And if all else fails, you can think about how bad you will feel if you don't achieve your goal. Pain is the best motivation sometimes.
4. WHAT ARE YOU REALLY CRAVING?
Sometimes when we crave sweets, it's actually NOT because we need literally sweet food, but rather because we are craving sweetness in our lives. For instance, this can come in the form of love-- a hug or even a warming conversation with a friend or colleague who appreciates you.
Other times, we are merely dehydrated. One of the tell-tale signs of dehydration is cravings for... yes, you guessed it! SWEETS. Try drinking a tall glass of water and waiting 30 minutes to decide if you still want that bon-bon. In the meantime, get busy. Getting busy will distract you by instead focusing on a task you can get lost in. If you prefer tea to water, make yourself a nice cup of tea.
In addition to dehydration, another cause of sweet cravings is an imbalance in minerals. You may know these minerals as their well-coined name-- electrolytes. Does this mean you should be swigging down Gatorade? NO. Gatorade is loaded with all types of sugar and artificial ingredients that will cause a cascade of other symptoms. The best place to get natural minerals is green juice, which is loaded with calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese to help restore your mineral balance and abate those pesky sugar cravings!
Try keeping some green juice handy near your desk for the next time those cravings call your name.