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Sweet Willpower

By: 
Alyssa Principe

I’ve been talking about this topic much more frequently in sessions with clients: sugar. Many people struggle with finding a balanced way to enjoy sweets. “I don’t have any willpower”, I hear it all the time.

Truth is, it isn’t an issue of willpower, it’s an issue of restriction. When we say sweets are “bad” or only allow ourselves some on special occasions, they become much more valuable, meaning we want them more. As your desire rises, you may find yourself in an out of control indulgence once sweets are around, leaving you to assume you have no willpower. To overcome this you may try to avoid sweets at all costs. But now, we’re home more than ever, and this avoidance technique isn’t working anymore.

Instead of restricting, give yourself unconditional permission to eat these sweets. That means stop judging yourself for eating a cupcake. Start by paying attention to how your body and mind respond while eating these sweet treats. Too much sugar often leaves us with an energy crash and won’t keep you full very long. But sugar can also release dopamine, that feel good chemical. This means finding a balance between how much and when to have sweets is…well, the sweet spot.

The most common mistake I see is expecting sweets to satisfy hunger. Like having a slice of cake then skipping lunch to “save calories”. Instead of trying to satisfy hunger with sweets, use them for what they are, a satisfying flavor. Enjoy sweets when you aren’t hungry, such as right after a meal. Or if it is between meals, pairing the sweets with something more voluminous such as fruit which have fiber and will help you feel full. You may find less sugar is more satisfying!

Interested in a healthy recipe that will tame your sugar cravings? Try these berry oat muffins.                

Alyssa Principe

Alyssa Principe, MS, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietician at South Boston Community Health Center. She runs the free Healthy Habits Support Group and sees patients of all ages at the Health Center. She works with patients of all ages on a variety of goals, from healthy and weight issues, to picky eating. If you're interested in learning more stay tuned for her recipes and helpful tips or make an appointment to see her in clinic today!