YMCA Health & Wellness

Finding a Sweet Balance

Fri, 05/17/2024 - 10:00am

With the summer months quickly approaching, it can be a daunting time to think about changing up your diet for the better. Warm nights and longer days give way to more outdoor time, plans with friends and, inevitably, an increase in sweet treats. But before you write me off as the healthy living director who forbids fro-yo, know this … I am a believer in moderation; when it comes to myself, my clients and even my own kids. And while cookies and candy hold a permanent spot in my pantry, it’s important to understand what sugar does to your body and the importance of finding balance when incorporating into your diet.    

Before we dive into ways in which you can curb your cravings for sugar, let’s acknowledge that processed food is in fact, addictive! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American consumes approximately 128 pounds of added sugars each year. 

Besides cavities and a wider midsection, noshing on sugar-saturated foods can increase your risk for heart disease as well as hinder the fat-burning enzymes within the body which encourage fat storage, according to a report in Reader’s Digest. 

Now that we understand the unhealthy reasons why you should limit your sugar intake, let’s begin to ween you off of the addictive additive. 

While I am not implying that raspberries taste like Swedish Fish, your taste buds (and waistline) will certainly begin to appreciate the natural sugars as opposed to the processed. Melons, mango and pineapple are all tasty replacements for your sweet tooth. Small substitutions will begin to have large, lasting effects such as elevated mood and more energy. 

Replacing white sugar with honey or maple syrup or blending dates into baked goods are all delicious substitutes for refined sugars in recipes. These minor modifications will give you the satisfaction you are craving without the adverse effects of snacking on a bag of Twizzlers. 

Most importantly, allow yourself to find the balance that works for you. Feelings of deprivation come when you force your mind to consider certain foods ‘off limits’. Instead, treat your taste buds with more nutritious options and limit the sugary snacks to once-in-a-while. Sustained energy, a healthier body and clearer mind? Now that’s a sweet balance I can support.