How you can enjoy sweets healthfully

November 13, 2002|by LYNN F. LITTLE

It's a fact: Humans like sweet treats. There's nothing wrong with enjoying sweet foods - in moderation! The problem is that we tend to go overboard on sugar, especially empty-calorie, "liquid candy" beverages. Here's how to have your sweets - and stay healthy, too!

Go natural with fruit.

Fruit - fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced - is nature's sweetest treat. Satisfying your sweet tooth with fruit means you get some real nutrition benefits - like fiber, vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting phytonutrients - along with great taste.

Enjoy sweets with other foods.

Timing is everything. The best time to enjoy a sugary food or beverage is along with other foods at a meal. You'll tend to consume less if you are satisfied with other foods (especially protein foods) and the sugar you eat will have less effect on your blood sugar.

Resize your portion.

Many sweets - including candy bars, cookies and soft drinks have been super-sized. Choosing smaller portions, like a bite-size candy bar rather than a king-size bar, will be far better for your health. Smaller portions can also be equally as satisfying.

Get exactly what you want.

One way to be satisfied with a smaller portion is to get exactly what you are craving. Some people eat through piles of treats trying to stay away from the one thing they really wanted in the first place. Take a few minutes to focus on what you really want to eat.

Relax and enjoy.

People often feel guilty about eating sweets, so they sneak around and wolf them down. However, eating quickly and guiltily means that you feel less satisfied. The goal is to eat less and enjoy it more. Pick a small portion of your favorite sweet, then savor every bite.

Use 'sugar-free' wisely.

Being sugar-free does not guarantee that product is fat-free or calorie-free. Sugar-free also does not guarantee that something is packed with protein, vitamins or minerals. Read before you eat - and check the Nutrition Facts labels to get the most nutrients per bite.

For tips on reading Nutrition Facts labels, send a self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope to Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County Office, 7303 Sharpsburg Pike, Boonsboro, MD 21713. Mark the envelope, "Label."

Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences extension educator for Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County. It is the policy of the University of Maryland and Maryland Cooperative Extension that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age, marital or parental status or disability.

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