When I first started cooking at Green Mountain at Fox Run in 2006, I had just left a job at a southern Vermont inn that involved making pastry. Tea cookies, desserts, breads, cinnamon buns, doughnuts, coffee cakes, you name it. When you’re in a job like that, it’s hard to avoid quality control duty eating everything. I needed Green Mountain, without even knowing it, and was happy when a new career move came with an opportunity for me to learn how to feed myself (and, oh yeah, our guests!) correctly.
The hardest part of learning to eat healthier, for me, was overcoming a powerful sweet tooth that I had been honing for a couple of decades. Going cold turkey certainly wasn’t going to work for this sugar addict. One thing that helped, and helps to this day, is celebrating Ice Cream Night every week on Friday. But sometimes, even knowing Ice Cream Night (yes, it warrants capital letters, it is, after all, a holiday) was coming wasn’t enough, and I would have to try to quell the urge to overindulge with a better choice.
The following are my favorite ways to put a sweet tooth in its place. I hope they are useful and save your butt (pun absolutely intended) as they have for me.
- A very fruity smoothie with or without yogurt or other dairy products. Sometimes fruit is enough.
- Hot cocoa or chocolate milk.
- Peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower seed, or another nut butter. The protein and fat in nut butters will also help you feel full.
- Banana Freeze. Make sure you keep some over-ripe bananas in the freezer so that you can throw one in a food processor with a little milk (or milk alternative…almond milk would be killer here!) and a little maple syrup. The result is something like soft serve ice cream, no joke. It works with other frozen fruits as well, as you can see here in our healthy recipe archives.
- Baked pineapple. I prefer fresh, but canned works too. Just lay it on a parchment lined sheet pan and throw it in the oven at about 375 for 15-30 minutes, or until you’re happy with it. (The only way to mess it up is to burn it, so use a timer.)
- Toasted nuts and/or nuts in the shell. If they’re in the shell, they have the added benefit of taking a little more work to eat, which forces a little more mindfulness.
- Seltzer with a shot of good fruit juice. This is the best way I’ve found to walk away from sugary sodas.
- An elegant parfait of yogurt and fruit, sometimes with granola or cereal on top for a little crunch.
- “Indulgent” hot cereal. My favorite is steel cut oatmeal with a little almond butter and strawberry jam swirled in.
- Ginger snaps or vanilla wafer-style cookies. These are super because a serving size is pretty substantial compared to other cookies and they don’t have a lot of fat. Plus, their crunchy nature adds to your satisfaction level.
- Pudding. It’s mostly milk, after all.
- Homemade lemonade. I like to use frozen raspberries or strawberries as ice cubes…mmm!
- A scrambled egg with maple syrup. Hey, don’t knock it until you try it. I love it with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
- Just a piece of perfectly ripe fruit.
- And when all else fails and you know you’re full, but still want a little something…sugar-free gum.
From time to time, my sweet tooth still comes a-knockin’, but not with the voracity which it used to. And when it does, I look to this arsenal to get me through. It’s really amazing how just a perfectly ripe piece of fruit can satisfy that craving. But just so you know, I am indeed looking forward to celebrating Ice Cream Night later. :)
If you’re a sweetie like me, but find your food cravings to be truly out of control and un-trickable, it might be symptomatic of another issue. Our new Food as Medicine program, a serious departure from weight loss boot camps or fat farms, really addresses the core issues, and can be the answer for many women who have a hard time maintaining healthy weight and good energy levels.
No foolin’ – what’s your favorite way around a sweet tooth?