Healthy Sweet Cravings
Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD
Most of us have those moments when we crave something sweet, and one of the most common suggestions you'll hear is to reach for a piece of fruit. It's a great strategy, and the natural sweetness of delicious fresh fruit often can satisfy your sweet tooth. But let's face it; sometimes you just want something more. When that happens, I think it helps to determine what you're after, because there's usually more to it than simply "something sweet." Think about texture, too— whether you want smooth and creamy, hard and crunchy, or soft and chewy. That way, you'll be better able to satisfy your craving without doing too much damage to your diet.
- If it's cold and creamy you're craving, look for fat-free ice cream, sorbet or portion-controlled low-fat ice cream bars or ice cream sandwiches. Keep some half cup-sized custard cups at home so you can portion out your sorbet or fat-free ice cream. You can find plenty of options in the freezer for around 100 calories per serving.
- Smooth and creamy pudding works great, too, and you get a little calcium at the same time. Pudding is quick and easy to make from scratch or from a mix with nonfat milk, or you can buy pre-portioned pudding cups at the store.
- When it's soft and chewy you're after, you might try a couple of fruit-filled cookies or a cereal bar. Most are much lower in fat than regular cookies, they're easy to portion out and you'll be getting a dab of fruit, too.
- If it's hard and crunchy you're craving, try a biscotti or some cinnamon or chocolate graham crackers. They're crisp, sweet and crunchy, but low-fat and portion controlled. And with a cup of coffee or tea, they make a great dessert!
- Portion-controlled candies are the best way to go if you're craving chocolate. Candy bars are too big, so opt instead for individually wrapped bite-sized candies or a protein snack bar that help you control how much you eat. Darker chocolate is a little healthier than milk chocolate, and its rich flavor is sometimes more satisfying, too.
- I do have to say a few words about fruit. Certain frozen fruits have a chewy quality that's much different from fresh. Frozen banana chunks take on the texture of ice cream, and frozen whole cherries or mango chunks don't harden completely, so they have a really satisfying chewy texture. And, you can drizzle a little chocolate syrup on top – with only about 50 fat-free calories per tablespoon; it takes fruit from mundane to marvelous.