How to satisfy your sugar craving without blowing the bank

I’ve had a nasty sugar craving all afternoon. One of those where no matter how hard I try not to think about sweets I can’t seem to get chocolate, cupcakes, brownies, etc., off the brain. Visions of sugar-plums are dancing in my head (from The Night Before Christmas). Not really, but pretty close to it. I’m clearly not going to be able to avoid this craving and so must admit defeat and give in. But what to eat that won’t leave me feeling guilty and result in a sugar crash? Usually a few bites of something will do the trick. Bite size treats are a great way to indulge without feeling like you’ve overdone it. Unfortunately, my office is a mine field when it comes to candy. Lurking around every corner is a dish often full to the brim. I appreciate the kindness of my coworkers, but stop refilling the candy dish! In my weakened state, I swiped three Hershey’s Kisses. I think willpower is something to keep in mind even when you are straying from your normal healthy habits. Just because you’re having a sweet treat doesn’t mean that you should go hog-wild. I could have eaten the whole dish of candy (the smell of chocolate was intoxicating!), but refrained out of propriety and the knowledge that 10 kisses wouldn’t taste any better than three. When you can’t fight the urge to eat something you know isn’t the healthiest (we’ve all been there), do exercise restraint. A treat is just that. Don’t view a craving as an excuse to completely drop the ball.

Many chains are now offering smaller versions of full-sized treats. Perhaps listing calories per serving on menus has prompted this? A Blondie (this one from Au Bon Pain is amazing and great to share) doesn’t seem so appealing when you know it’s a fourth or more of your daily calorie and fat intake. Candy companies are also labeling their products so that customers can make more informed choices. Some of my favorites (if only I didn’t love chocolate as much as I do!) are:

Pret A Manger’s Mini Brownie (200 calories) – I’ve mentioned this little square of chocolate goodness in a previous post. It’s so rich and moist, I don’t think I could eat the big version. Ok, in full disclosure, I totally could, but

Treat-Sized Double Chocolate Cookie (130 calories) – Only about three bites, this cookie hits the spot when a hankering for chocolate comes along. (Also, try the Treat-Sized Peanut Butter Cookie (160 calories))

M&M’s Peanut Butter (240 calories per pack) – Sweet and salty, they even have a little protein. The bag will be empty before you know it.

Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses (roughly 23 calories a kiss) – Simple, classic and always delicious. I’m not a big milk chocolate person, I prefer dark, but these are soooo good.

Chocolate Nonpareils from Au Bon Pain (200 calories for nine pieces) -Not overly sugary and with a good crunch, nonpareils are good for a straight chocolate craving.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries from Godiva (between 35 and 50 calories a dipped berry) – A ripe, sweet strawberry covered in chocolate. Enough said.

Freshii Frozen Yogurt (105 calories for a small serving without toppings) – The small serving is plenty big and with so few calories there is plenty of wiggle room to add chocolate chips, nuts or fruit.

A number of cupcakeries around D.C. (Crumbs Bake Shop, Curbside Cupcakes (they bring the sweets to you!) and Georgetown Cupcake) offer mini versions of their most popular flavors. Unless it’s your birthday, which in that case order whatever you want (!), it’s probably best to stick with the smaller size. Your waistline will thank you.

Remember it’s not about depriving yourself; no one (me, least of all) is a saint. It’s human to want some sweet or salty or cheesy every now and then. When cravings hit, think moderation. If you think you’re going to feel guilty or need to punish yourself with an extra long workout tomorrow, you probably should re-evaluate. Learn how to savor and relish in the small things (and small portions). Satisfaction without regret is the best kind!

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