GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Satisfying your sweet tooth can be a struggle, especially if you're on a diet.
However, experts say that doesn't mean you should avoid sweets altogether if you're trying to stay healthy.
"Restrictive diets statistically often fail or even backfire," said Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian Melissa Jaeger. "When we restrict, the brain tends to focus more on wanting what is put off limits. As dietitians, we believe food should be enjoyed and savored and that all foods can fit on our plates – including sweets. We want to promote eating without guilt."
There are steps you can take to cut down on those sugar cravings.
"One of the most common comments from customers is they feel extreme hunger and cravings in the evening if they go all day without eating very much. Eating a balanced breakfast can help control cravings later in the day," Jaeger said. "For breakfast, aim to choose something low in sugar with a good source of protein. Try to find something that keeps you feeling satisfied for about 4 hours. Research has found that by avoiding sugar and staying balanced at breakfast, you will then be able to enjoy dessert later in the day (like right after dinner) and stay more balanced then too! Try pairing protein and fiber-rich cereal like Catalina Crunch with creamy Ripple Plant-Based milk!"
If you do want to indulge in something sweet, don't wait until you're hungry.
"The best time to eat something sweet is right after a balanced lunch or dinner when you’ve eaten fiber in vegetables and adequate protein and fats," Jaeger said. "The fiber, protein and fat in your stomach will slow down digestion and prevent the sweet food from spiking your blood sugar as high as it would on an empty stomach. An additional tip is to time a little movement such as a short walk after the balanced meal with dessert. If you are used to snacking before bed, try moving up that snack to fall directly after dinner instead."
Jaeger said eating before bedtime can affect your sleep because it can spike your blood sugar and keep your digestive tract working overnight.
"With an adequate-sized balanced dinner, you may be surprised to find you do not need a snack in the evening before bed," Jaeger said. "However, if you do notice yourself feeling hungry later at night, try to choose a more protein-rich snack rather than something sweet. Some ideas are a handful of nuts, a string cheese, some Greek yogurt, peanut butter and celery, a protein shake, a glass of water or a cup of tea."
One idea? This recipe for Peach Oatmeal Bars.
Hy-Vee Peach Oatmeal Bars
- 1 cup Hy-Vee all-purpose flour
- ½ cup Hy-Vee whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ cup Hy-Vee old fashioned oats
- 1 tsp Hy-Vee baking powder
- 1 tsp Hy-Vee ground cinnamon, plus additional for garnish
- ½ tsp Hy-Vee salt
- ½ cup Hy-Vee unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup Hy-Vee dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup Hy-Vee granulated sugar
- 2 Hy-Vee large eggs
- 1 tsp Hy-Vee vanilla extract
- ½ cup Hy-Vee unsweetened applesauce
- 2 large peaches, pitted and chopped
- 1 large peach, pitted and thinly sliced
- Hy-Vee nonstick cooking spray
- Optional: a few passes of freshly grated nutmeg for garnish or added to batter with ground cinnamon
- Optional topping: Stir to combine ¼ cup old fashioned oats, ¼ cup all-purpose flour, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Add ¼ cup softened butter (broken into chunks) and use a fork or your hands to combine. Sprinkle over top of thinly sliced peaches.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray; set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flours, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
- In a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugars until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined, about 1 minute more. Add in applesauce and beat until combined. Gradually add in flour mixture just until combined. Fold in chopped peaches.
- Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Arrange peach slices evenly on top of batter. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon and nutmeg, if desired. Bake 35 - 40 minutes or until bars are golden brown and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire cooling rack and cut into bars. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
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