Mindfully Fooling a Sweet Tooth


Cadbury Chocolate EggsWhen 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?

14 responses to “Mindfully Fooling a Sweet Tooth”

  1. lauramich says:

    Hot chocolate was one of the keys to my weight loss (maintaining a ~140-pound loss for 7 months now). I make mine with half a serving of Ghirardelli double chocolate cocoa mix, 1 tablespoon of plain cocoa, and 8 ounces of skim or 1% milk, plus optional cinnamon, peppermint extract, or (if I’m feeling especially indulgent) 1 tablespoon of Irish cream or amaretto. Using just half of the cocoa mix plus the plain cocoa made the drink less sweet and more rich and chocolate-y. Knowing that I could look forward to my evening hot chocolate helped me resist other temptations throughout the day.

    One of my general rules of thumb has been to use sugar and fat to enhance nutritious foods. So, hot chocolate to flavor up skim or lowfat milk, or some honey or maple syrup in my oatmeal.

    I also love herbal teas for getting a kick of sweetness for no calories—and without the sour aftertaste that often comes with eating sugar. Peppermint tea is my staple, but lately I’ve been on a decaf chai kick.

    Fruit, of course, is awesome. One of my new staple snacks is a cup of grapes with half a cup of lowfat cottage cheese, plus a sprinkle of sunflower seeds. Last night’s dessert was a sliced banana with a tablespoon of almond butter.

  2. Heather says:

    I did a weight-loss challenge at my gym. For two months, I strictly counted calories — winning was more important than eating sweets. I had ice cream once, when I built it into my plan for the day, and I was STARVING (calories + no nutritional value = hungry). At the end of the two months, I didn’t crave sweets any more. I could walk by a table piled high with goodies and not want any. I could eat one cookie and not need four more. Extremely liberating 🙂

    Then I went through chemo and all bets were off. I haven’t done it again since then, though at some point here soon I’m going it. It’s totally worth it (to me) to be free from that addiction.

  3. DaniJo says:

    I love some of these ideas. I’m def printing to refer to and share, but my first thought on the Choc milk was that I always TRY to do that but find a polite 8oz serving insufficient and overdo and it becomes WAY more that a tool to take the edge off. Hot Choc seems to work better but Nesquick requires a big YUMMY glass. 🙂

  4. Sherry says:

    I’ve been finding lately that a mini sized ice cream cone (we were introduced to these by our grandkids) is incredibly satisfying, and not too long ago, when the only ice cream cone available was a full-sized one, I found it too big. It’s all about the permission.
    .-= Sherry’s last blog post..Another Stumbling Block =-.

  5. empower me photo guy says:

    Great tips, thanks! It’s so empowering when you know that you have alternatives to hand and you don’t have to crave in to a sweet tooth. And if you find your resolve flagging mid-week, just keep the vision of Ice Cream Friday in your mind as something to look forward to!

  6. Chef Lisa says:

    Laura, thanks for sharing your cocoa alterations and other ideas. I can’t believe I left tea out. I have cut my sugar intake by having unsweetened green tea in the afternoons instead of my old sugary mug of joe.

    Heather – I can’t imagine that level of liberation. Rarely can I only enjoy one cookie, which is why I keep them out of my house 😉

    DaniJo – good point about knowing what your weaknesses are in regards to portions! I’m that way about Nutella. I used to keep a jar in the house for chocolate cravings, but found it far too tempting.

    Sherry – way to go! I’ve reached that point myself. Hooray for us, and ice cream!

  7. Lauren says:

    Great post Lisa! I love the banana soft serve idea.
    .-= Lauren’s last blog post.

  8. cindy says:

    I used to do the hot chocolate thing and have really forgotten about it lately. That’s such a wonderful, soothing treat. I love the idea of putting pepperment of someother flavoring to make it even more special.

    Lisa, I always look forward to reading your posts.

  9. I stock my freezer with frozen fruit. I like to put it in a dish and suck on it like it’s hard candy. My favorites–frozen mango chunks and frozen berries. A lot of fruits also taste really great on peanut butter sandwiches–takes the monotony out of PB and banana. Peanut butter and peach is one of my favorite combos!

  10. Sherry says:

    Monika, thanks for reminding me — one of my all time favorites (and they have great little ones at Trader Joe’s) is frozen chocolate covered bananas. The TJ’s ones have quite good chocolate on them, which makes the whole thing taste very rich and satisfying.
    .-= Sherry’s last blog post..Another Stumbling Block =-.

  11. Chef Lisa says:

    thanks, everybody 🙂 Monika, I had forgotten about one of my favorites: frozen grapes! And frozen raspberries are heavenly. Thanks for jogging my memory.

  12. Lisa in Jersey says:

    Such great ideas, here! Sherry, my mom used to dip bananas in chocolate and freeze them for us, cut in half and speared on popsicle sticks (coated in crushed peanuts, too!). I think I need to revisit this old recipe this summer!

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    […] Weight Lifted has a great article called “Mindfully Fooling a Sweet Tooth.” She’s got lots of great suggestions on some health(ier) sweets, but these are some my […]

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