Charge Up for Good Health

Break Your Sugar Addiction

Don''t let cravings cause weight gain and cavities. Here''s how to control your sweet tooth for good...

Many dieters I know can cut back on eating pizza or fries without feeling they’ve sacrificed too much. But, boy, they don’t want me to mess with their desserts. Some research suggests that foods high in sugar, fat and refined carbs (Cake! Cookies! Pie!) can stimulate your brain in ways that become addictive. People can literally get hooked on sugar. Of course, having a small dessert like a mini piece of chocolate each day is absolutely fine -- even if you’re watching the scale. But if you crave sweets 24-7, you’re likely putting on weight, getting too much unhealthy fat and missing out on the nutrients your body really needs. So try these strategies to break your sugar addiction and tame your inner sweets beast.

Sugar Addiction: You’ve just got to start off the day with a jelly doughnut or cinnamon bun.

Sweet Strategy: An all-sugar breakfast is a sure recipe for a midmorning crash. If traditional breakfast fare seems lame compared to what you’ve been eating, make smart swaps that provide similar flavor for fewer calories and more nutrients. Take that jelly doughnut: It’s got 14 grams of sugar -- eek, that’s 3 1/2 teaspoons’ worth! Instead, spread a piece of whole-grain toast with 1 teaspoon of your favorite jelly. Replace the cinnamon bun (225 calories) with a slice of whole-grain cinnamon bread drizzled with Greek yogurt (only 100 calories plus bone-building calcium), or stir cinnamon and chopped nuts into a small container of yogurt.

Sugar Addiction: You’re always snatching a chocolate when you walk by the candy dish at home or work.

Sweet Strategy: You’d never recommend hanging out in a smoky bar to someone who’s trying to give up cigarettes. So why must you fill your candy dish with delectable bites of chocolate or leave the leftover birthday cake on the kitchen counter? If you have sweets at home, keep them out of sight so you’ll be less tempted. Build willpower at work by stashing healthy options in your desk, like nuts and air-popped popcorn.

Sugar Addiction: Dinner seems pitiful without dessert.

Sweet Strategy: Find another satisfying way to end your meal. For me, it’s a cup of ginger green tea. But a mug of hot chocolate made with low-fat milk, a chocolate-dipped strawberry, or even a cube of a very flavorful cheese are tasty options that won’t put you in a sugar coma.

Sugar Addiction: You can’t watch TV at night without having a snack.

Sweet Strategy: Brush and floss right after dinner: You won’t want to go through that whole routine again, and it sends your brain a signal that you’re done eating for the night.