You know it's important to watch how much sugar you eat. But relying on no-calorie artificial sweeteners as an alternative is far from a silver bullet. In fact, recent research shows doing so may actually contribute to weight gain. Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, offers some sane sugar solutions that, thankfully, include chocolate and dessert:
Have a little. "If you keep sugar intake to between twenty and forty grams a day, you're within the healthy guidelines," she says. That translates to about five to nine teaspoons, or a small candy bar. As long as you stick to 200 calories of sugar a day, you're good.
Go for combos. Downing a huge dose of the sweet stuff all at once -- and all by itself -- isn't a great idea. "If you eat a handful of jelly beans, your blood sugar is going to jump faster than if you ate a square of chocolate; the bit of fat helps the sugar break down more slowly," says Dr. Gerbstadt. So go ahead and sip your soda, but have it with a sandwich. What about a cookie? Pair it with milk.
Watch out for hidden sources. Everything from ketchup to salad dressing to peanut butter can contain added sugar. Look at the ingredients list to determine whether sugar or high-fructose corn syrup was added.
Mix it up. If you have a sweet tooth, satisfy it with a mix of sugar and sweeteners. Maybe you use Splenda in your coffee, but you sprinkle a dash of brown sugar in your oatmeal.