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25 Healthy Snacks to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth


Berries on a Table

“I’m really craving something sweet.”

We’ve all said it. Then (even though we’re trying to be healthy) we reach for the ice cream, donuts, or—the stereotypical choice— chocolate. The reality is that our bodies are programmed to crave certain foods.

Wait! Don’t go on a miserable chocolate binge just yet. There’s hope! You can curb your sugar craving without increasing your waistline by choosing from several healthy, guilt-free foods. The best news is that if you completely cut processed sugars from your diet, you’ll find that these naturally sweet foods actually taste sweeter! Here’s a wide-ranging list of 25 nutritious snacks to keep you healthy and satisfy your sweet tooth:

1. Berries: Natural sugar will satisfy your craving, plus they’re rich in antioxidants.

2. Citrus: Bursting in vitamin C, full of tang, and high in fructose that will curb your sweet tooth.

3. Bananas: tastes like ice cream when frozen and blended!

4. Dried fruits: Sometimes it’s fun to mix up textures by choosing dried fruit. Dried mangos are our favorite!

Dark Chocolate

5. Dark chocolate: studies have shown chocolate causes a spike in serotonin, which is why we crave it when we’re sad (when our serotonin is low). Dark chocolate has less sugar and is abundant in antioxidants.

6. Homemade fruit popsicles: mix together your favorite fruits (or even vegetables or spices), sweeten with Stevia, and freeze! Store-bought popsicles contain added sugar and preservatives, so be careful if you want to buy them.

7. Sugar-free gum: try dessert flavors to taste sugary treats without damaging your health. Sugar-free gum is made of xylitol, which is a sugar alcohol that gives gum a sweet taste but doesn’t get converted into glucose.

8. Sugar-free candy: again made with sugar alcohols. These sugar substitutes don’t absorb completely during digestion, which means the candy tastes sweet but doesn’t have the negative effects of sugar.

9. Skim milk and cheese: contain milk sugar to curb your craving while also providing essential nutrients like calcium. Calcium is used for bone growth and strength, making it an important daily nutrient for everyone from children to 90-year olds. This is especially true for women. Women are at higher risk to develop osteoporosis (porous bones) than men. What can you do to prevent it/slow it down? Maintain a consistent vitamin D and calcium intake.

10. Unsweetened yogurt: Replace custard and ice cream with yogurt. You can even buy the full-fat unsweetened yogurt for a creamier option. Sweeten it with fruit or dark chocolate shavings.

11. Snack substitutes: Most grocery stores sell typical desserts and snacks with a nutritious twist. For example, instead of buying full-fat ice cream, try out high-protein ice cream. It has less than half the sugar, more protein, and it tastes delicious! When shopping for substitutes, always compare the nutrition labels to verify that it’s truly healthier.

12. Whole grains: sugar and carbs both end up as glucose, which is used to make energy. By eating whole grains, the body gets the glucose it needs while also ingesting fiber.

Sweet Bell Peppers

13. Sweet bell peppers: we often don’t think of vegetables as being sweet, but bell peppers have enough natural sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth, plus they give you colorful nutrients called antioxidants!

14. Cherry tomatoes: the perfect combination of acid and sweet that will get rid of your cravings. They are high in vitamin A, which will boost your eye health.

15. Green beans: even though we don’t usually notice, they are surprisingly sweet.

16. Sweet potato: can be turned into a “dessert” by topping with a little butter (or butter-replacement) and cinnamon!

17. Carrots: contain enough natural sugar to curb your sweet tooth, plus they give you a boost of vitamin A.

18. Winter squash: also surprisingly sweet and yummy with cinnamon.

19. Turnips: add to your next dish to stop your sugar cravings before they start.

Various Spices

20. Spices: adding herbs and spices will diversify your diet, preventing you from seeking sugar because you’re pleased with the flavors of your meal.

21. Nuts: contain what we term “healthy fats” that have been proven to decrease sugar cravings.

Avacado Toast

22. Avocado: “healthy fat” has been shown to decrease cravings. Try it in a fruit smoothie to make the texture super creamy.

23. Almonds: Full of unsaturated fat, which will also decrease cholesterol and promote heart health. 2

24. Peanut butter: try organic or powdered peanut butter to reap the benefits of the healthy fats in peanuts without any preservatives.

Water with Fruit

25. Tea or sugar-free water sweeteners: Grocery stores sell dozens of sugar-free flavored packets and teas to liven up your water. You can even look up recipes to flavor it yourself with fruit and herbs! Some sugar-free flavor packets even contain small amounts of caffeine, which can replace sugary caffeinated drinks.


Want to Get Rid of your Sweet Tooth altogether?

Changing your lifestyle habits can permanently stop cravings because you remove the stimulus. Identify the root cause of your sugar craving and then find the solution that will work for you!

Cause of Sugar Cravings

Solution

Diet high in processed sugar

Go “cold turkey” for a week. Cut out all sugar to reset your system. The slowly add in natural sugars like fruit, and everything will taste sweeter!  

Stress (increased cortisol)

Take a break. Go out in the sun

Feeling sad/depressed (decreased dopamine)

1. Daily aerobic exercise

2. Do something you love, like reading, running, or deep-cleaning, to increase dopamine without food

Sleep-deprivation

Eat a healthy breakfast and go to sleep earlier

Feeling bored

Find a 15-minute activity. Most cravings only last that long. Clean out a junk drawer, go for a walk, sweep the garage, or visit a neighbor! 3

Extreme calorie limiting (dieting)

Eat 4-5 times a day to keep your metabolism up. Focus on consuming protein and health fats.







References:

  1. Andriakos, Jacqueline. “Outsmart Your Cravings.”
  2. Seager, Spencer L. and Michael R. Slabaugh. Chemistry for Today: General, Organic, and Biochemistry, 8th edition. Cengage Learning. 2015.
  3. Andersen, Wayne Scott. Dr. A’s Habits of Health. 2008.
  4. Rocha, Joel, et al. “Effects of a 12-Week Aerobic Exercise Intervention on Eating Behavior, Food Cravings, and 7-Day Energy Intake and Energy Expenditure in Inactive Men.” Applied Physiology, Nutrition, & Metabolism, vol 41, no. 11, Nov 2016, pp. 1129-1136