Healthy Food Tips: Smart Ways to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Recent studies indicate that humans have an innate preference for the taste of sugar. If you’re like most people, then you haven’t quite figured out how to satisfy your sweet tooth without ruining your diet. The good news is that there are plenty of snacks and sweet treats that can be part of a balanced diet if enjoyed in moderation. You can have your favorite cake and eat it too, as long as you don’t go overboard. The following substitutes have an amazing taste and are much more wholesome for you than their junk food counterparts:

Eat Dark Chocolate

If you are craving for chocolate, go ahead and get some – but make sure it’s dark chocolate. Researchers have found that dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants. Some varieties are loaded with calcium and probiotics. Dark chocolate supports cardiovascular health and increases your energy levels.

Get Some Yogurt

Plain yogurt can be sweetened with jam or honey, or combined with granola, cereals, and chopped fruit. Greek yogurt brands are very delicious and filling. If you are looking for a creamy treat, combine some low fat yogurt with a high-fiber fruit, flaxseed, and ground nuts. Add blueberries and raspberries for extra fiber. You may also use crushed graham cracker crumbs and vanilla yogurt.

Pudding Is a Great Choice

Pudding is an excellent source of calcium and protein. You can make pudding at home or buy it from the cafeteria. Individual pudding packs are low in calories and come in all sorts of flavors. If you are trying to lose weight, you can opt for sugar free varieties.

Have a Sweet Drink

Sweet drinks contain empty calories, but you can add them to your diet once in a while when you are craving for sweets. The healthiest options include instant hot cocoa packets and hot chocolate made with milk. Stick to half of cup in order not to exceed 100 calories.

Try Chewing Gum

Chewing gum comes in all flavors and colors. Some varieties taste like Key Lime pie, while others are available in classic flavors such as mint or cinnamon. Chewing gum not only gives you fresh breath, but also helps you curb your appetite.

Add Dried Fruit to Your Diet

Dried fruits have a chewy texture that satisfies that urge to snack on something while you watch television or read your favorite book. They are a quick and tasty way to add more nutrients to your diet. Dried fruits are healthy, loaded with fiber and satisfying to eat, and they usually contain more fiber than their fresh counterparts.

Sweet Addiction – Artificial Sweeteners Not So Sweet After All

Sugar substitutes were first developed in the 1950’s when a clinic director worked to develop a sugar-free diet for patients suffering from diabetes and other chronic conditions. The industry took off, and today diet sodas and sugar substitutes make up a huge part of the market. The idea that sugar substitutes are healthy alternatives is rooted in the American psyche, no matter the evidence to the contrary. Worse yet, the prevalence of artificial sweeteners, corn syrup and refined sugars in the majority of American foods have created a country of sweet-addicts.

We are wired to crave some sweetness in our foods, especially during the winter and in childhood. This craving was meant to drive us to take in healthy carbohydrates in the form of naturally sweet plant foods. Due to the extravagant amount of sweeteners in the majority of our foods and their extreme levels, many of us can no longer detect natural sweetness in healthy plant foods. We’re not wired to handle this exorbitant amount of sweetness. This excess triggers unhealthy food cravings and addiction.

The craving children have for natural sweetness (for growth and development) would normally wane in adolescence. Instead, this waning is defeated by sweet addiction. When we eat refined sugar or artificial sweeteners, our brains believe that we’re getting nutrients we need. Instead, we don’t get any real nutrients, so appetite and food cravings are re-triggered. Our bodies aren’t looking for more sweetness necessarily-they’re looking for real food! Furthermore, when we take in these low-nutrient foods and drinks, we have less room for the good stuff.

Diet Sodas and Drinks
Diet soda has been linked to kidney damage and diet sodas and sweetened water beverages are linked to weight gain!
At the University of Texas, diet-soda drinkers prove to be heavier than non-diet soda drinkers. Lead researcher Sharon Fowler says, “There was a 41% increase in risk of being overweight for every can or bottle of diet soft drink a person consumes each day.”

Purdue University scientists have found that in a rat study, artificial sweeteners increased caloric intake, body weight and body fat percentage.

And addiction? Cocaine-addicted rats choose saccharin-sweetened water above and beyond cocaine-doses, even when the researchers upped the drug levels!

Sweetened food and drink actually changes the taste buds, creating cravings for more sweetened foods.
One study looked at brain activity in women that ingested water sweetened with sugar and that sweetened with sucralose (what you might recognize as Splenda).

Both sweeteners activated pleasure centers in the brain, but sucralose didn’t produce as much satiation. The craving wasn’t really satisfying and so triggered increased cravings for more sweet stuff.

The nutrients that many sweetened waters are said to contain are often present in only the most minuscule amounts or are in forms that our bodies can’t make use of. Isolated vitamins and minerals don’t have the beneficial health effects that those in whole foods do. It’s the whole package-the combination of protein, lipids, carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals-in plants that produce positive health effects.

Dangerous Chemicals
The following are some of the most common (and most dangerous) food additives used today.

Acesulfame K
This brand-new artificial sweetener is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Little research has been done yet but early studies have linked it with certain cancers and thyroid conditions.

Artificial Flavoring
Artificial flavoring can mean that a food or beverage contains any one of 3,000 allowable chemicals, many of which have negative health effects.

Aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet)
Aspartame is 180 times sweeter than sugar. The FDA file of complaints concerning aspartame ingestion includes reports of dizziness, headaches and memory loss. Some studies suggest it is a carcinogen.

Benzene
Benzene is produced by the bottling process of many beverages. It is a noted carcinogen that has been linked to heart rate issues, infertility and seizures.

Cyclamates
Cyclamates are among the first artificial sweeteners used in diet drinks. They were once banned by the FDA because of suspicion of their link to cancer but they are once again up for FDA approval.

Food Coloring
Many food colorings are linked to ADD/ADHD, asthma and cancer. Although several of these are banned in other countries, the US commonly makes use of Blue #1 and #2, FD &C colors, Ponceau, Red 2 (Amaranth), Red #3 (Erythrosine), Red #40 (Allura Red), Tartrazine, Yellow #2G, Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow), Yellow  #23 (Acid Yellow).

Saccharin (Sweet n’ Low)
Saccharin is 300 times sweeter than sugar. The public stopped purchasing products made with the sweetener when they learned of it’s possible link to cancer. Studies didn’t ‘prove’ this link, so it is once again common in many artificially-sweetened foods. Saccharin is linked, however, to addiction to sweetness, obesity and overeating.

Sucralose (Splenda)
Sucralose is 600 times sweeter than table sugar. Sucralose was an accidental discovery: it was originally part of a new insecticide compound. Chlorinated compounds such as sucralose were thought to pass through the body undigested. Recent research has found that up to 40% of chlorinated compounds become stockpiled in the intestinal tract, kidneys and liver. Chlorine has been classified as a carcinogen.

Reversing the Addiction
We can reverse our addiction to unhealthy sweeteners and restore our ability to taste the natural sweetness in whole foods over time. It will seem difficult at first, but I can’t encourage you more strongly to put down the diet sodas and the colored sweetener packets! These chemicals are foreign to our bodies and will not help you achieve any of your health goals.

Replace artificial sweeteners (and refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, etc.) with natural sweeteners like stevia, xylitol and small amounts of agave nectar or raw honey. Stevia is my personal favorite, as it is a no calorie, natural sweetener from the stevia plant. You will want to make sure you use a high quality brand that has not been overly processed. Stevia is also a great option for people dealing with diabetes, as it will not spike your blood sugar levels.
In the long run, your best bet is to use very little of even these natural sweeteners so that your body’s cravings, food triggers and metabolism are restored to healthy functioning. 

The Lowdown on Lollipops and Health

It’s undeniable that lollipops are some of the best things that happened to candy lovers around the world. Those unforgettable retro sweets are probably topping their lists with Fruity Pops, Traffic Light Lollies, Strawberry & Cream Lollies, Vimto Lollies, Double Dip – Original, Wally Lollies, Double Lollies, Love Hearts Dip and all the other retro lollies that made childhoods sweeter in many ways.

While there’s no debate about this universal passion for sweets, the health issues still pretty much feel unsettled. It used to be funny how Dad lectured about keeping our teeth perfect while sending us off to that local candy store because he understood how those candies mattered to us as kids. Once and for all, don’t your ever fantasize about this issue being put to rest? Are candies bad for the health?

No matter what they say, candy is food and nothing classified as food is hazardous to health. Candy is definitely not bad for people and only when excesses of them are. But then again, anything in excess is a hazard on its own so the inevitable answer is no, candies aren’t bad for the health. In fact, it was once believed that traditional sweets made children hyperactive and cognitively impaired. More recent studies have shown that this is generally false. The new research involved children given sweets with unusually high sugar content and towards the end, their behaviors and mental abilities barely changed. However, the medical world maintains there are individuals who are innately sensitive to sugar but this hypersensitivity will be treated as any other form of allergy.

The remotest possibility that your favorite old-fashioned sweets and newer ones become hazardous is when they’re manufactured with less than the highest standards for sanitation. Candies are culturally kept for long periods of time and when contaminated from day one, the higher the risks they pose. Besides, concerned government agencies will rarely stop short of ensuring that all candies distributed in the market, whether locally produced or imported, do not contain ingredients that may compromise their citizens’ health. It is, therefore, superfluous to claim that candies are a health hazard when they’re actually screened with the same standards and criteria as with any other food product that may be more favorably perceived by the public.

Perhaps the closest that candies can get to being unhealthy is their ability to promote tooth decay. But when parents care enough to ensure that their children take active steps in protecting their teeth without necessarily stopping them from eating their candies, there shouldn’t be a problem. In other words, it all boils down to the issue of responsibility which is pretty much an issue with most every other thing in life. Why should candies be singled out and vilified?

How Many Calories Are in Sweet Potatoes?

It is very important to understand the foods you consume daily and weekly when planning your meals. While many foods may seem to be the healthy choice, and as a stand-alone food they are in fact just that. Always be aware of additives, such as sugars and fats when maintaining a healthy diet.

Sweet potatoes come in a number of varieties and are also referred to as a yam. These hearty plants usually thrive in the south, and include varieties such as the Covington, O Henry, and the Japanese. The yam can have the appearance of a white skin, or a red skin depending on the type you choose. While searching for calories in a sweet potato, calculate the margarine or butter you wish to add as well.

The calorie content of the sweet potato is between 103-111 calories will depend on the size of the potato. While the yam is generally a low calorie food item, many people add high fat content butter to it when preparing this food, as well as high calorie sugar. When served alone in its natural state is highly nutritious.

  • Baked – 180 calories or 200 grams, per 1 cup serving.
  • Raw – 103 calories or 114 grams, per medium size Sweet Potato.
  • Raw – 54 calories or 60 grams, per small size Sweet Potato.

Nutritional Facts

The yam contains vitamin B-6, as well as vitamin C and D, as well as the minerals iron and magnesium. The sweet potato alone is very healthy, when butter or margarine is added it can become unhealthy. The natural fat content in the yam is only 1g. Per serving, when adding butter to a large yam the fat content jumps to 140 with 139 fat g. per 1 ounce of butter, and 143 calories added from an ounce of butter alone. When considering how many calories are in any prepared dish, always add the calories for the butter or margarine; if used.

Health Benefits

Vitamin B-6 in the sweet potato offers the benefit of reducing the risk of degenerative diseases as well as heart disease. The health benefits of vitamin C include protection against certain types of cancer, as well as protective collagen that promotes healthy skin. Vitamin C offer immunity assistance from certain viruses such as the common cold and influenza. The yam offers a dose of iron that contains health benefits such as relief from fatigue, while at the same time promoting a healthy immune system. Health benefits from eating this super food, include healthy skin and healthy skin tone as well. Consider the health benefits as well when considering how many calories in sweet potatoes.

How to Store

When storing yams it is important to remember not to get them wet, simply wipe off the dirt. Place them in a bag with apples to prevent budding. Always keep sweet potatoes in a pantry or cellar in order to keep them cool and dry. Sweet potatoes left in a cool dry place can be kept for a month, however if stored in room temperature should be used within a week.

Smoothie Recipe

  • 1 Cup of pureed sweet potato ( canned or fresh)
  • 1 Cup of skim milk or soy milk
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp. of ground nutmeg

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until creamy smooth, pour into a large glass and top with a pitch of cinnamon and serve.

Understanding the foods you eat is not always easy and if you do not know the nutritional value of a food, you could be jeopardising your health and diet achievements.