Do you feel guilty eating sweets? You shouldn't. There is nothing wrong with eating an occasional sweet. It is far wiser to plan a sweet dessert now and again, rather than deprive yourself for weeks only to eat half your body weight in sweets later.
It is the balance of your diet that counts. Unfortunately, too many Americans eat far too much sugar. Our per capita consumption of sugar is 120 pounds per year! This works out to 600 excess calories a day which are devoid of any nutritional value. In view of this fact, it is easy to see why Americans have a problem with obesity while falling short with other critical nutrients like iron, calcium and folic acid.
A brief note needs to be stated about carbohydrates and the bodies' capacity to burn them. It is true that the body loves to burn carbohydrates and sugar is a carbohydrate, but consider this: a pound of Tootsie Rolls contains 1200 calories and a pound of apples contains 263 calories. Which food do you think causes obesity? As sugar is a concentrated source of carbohydrates, it can carry excess calories. Excess calories are converted into fat!
Although sugar in the diet does not have the killer status of fats and salt, it can cause other health problems aside from obesity. Tooth decay can be the result of sweets taken in between meals. Honey, which many believe is healthier than table sugar, actually comes with a glue which adheres cavity causing bacteria to teeth.
Sugar: An Acquired Taste
Fortunately our taste for sweets is acquired much like our taste for salt. This means we can change our taste acquity for sugar by altering the amounts in our diet.
Gradually substitute less sweet foods, like tea biscuits and fruit tarts, for icing-laden cakes and cookies. Make some of your favorite recipes with a third less sugar. The sugar in most recipes can be reduced by 50 to 75 percent without altering the final product. As fruit juice concentrate is twice as sweet as sugar, you can use half the quantity of concentrate to produce the same amount of sweetness. Fruit juice concentrate also helps provide moisture to baked goods which are reduced in fat.
Check the "tips" section for additional ideas on curbing your sweet tooth. Remember, you want nutritional value for your calories. Healthier choices go a long way in making you lean, fit and trim.
Tips For Cutting Back on Sugar
- If sweets are your downfall, try saving them for special occasions. Plan a candy bar or cookie ahead of time, say, on the weekends. It is far better to incorporate them into your diet than binge on them when feeling deprived.
- Bake your own sweets with half of the sugar. Or try substituting applesauce for sugar in muffin and sweet bread recipes.
- Use dried fruits as extra sweeteners in cookies. Beware of dried fruits as snacks alone. They are rich in calories and can stick to teeth causing tooth decay.
- Use powered sugar as a substitute for icings on chocolate cakes. Get a doilie and place on top of cake. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top and remove doilie...Wallah! Poetry in motion without the extra fat in icings!
- Use "conserves" instead of "preserves". The former do not have added sugar.
- Use sliced fresh fruit as a topping for french toast or pancakes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. This helps bypass the maple syrup.
- Buy plain non-fat yogurt and add your own fresh fruit. Flavored yogurts can contain up to seven teaspoons of added sugar.
- The product "Equal" is actually two naturally occurring amino acids (aspartic acid and phenylalanine) hooked together. This works well for sweetening cold products, but breaks down in cooking.
- Look for breakfast cereals with six grams or less of added sugar and more than four grams of fiber. Read the label and beware of words that end with "ose". These are sugars too: corn syrup solids, dextrose, maltose etc.
- Beware of fruit-flavored waters. These products can have as much sugar as sodas. Make your own beverage with half fruit juice and half mineral water.
- Eat fresh fruit whenever possible. When buying canned fruit, buy those packed in their own juice or "lite" syrup.
- Avoid having sweets around "for guests." Chances are you will eat them before your friends and family will.