Many of us have a sweet tooth that can get in the way of eating healthy and weight loss. In this post, I will give you 5 healthy sweet snack ideas to help you achieve your weight-loss goals.
Before I get to that, if you want to lose weight, I highly recommend you try cutting added sugar out of your diet for at least two weeks. It’s a great way to break bad habits and recalibrate your taste buds. You will be AMAZED just how sweet fruit tastes when you aren’t eating added sugar from other foods. But make sure to check the nutrition label for any prepared food because foods you wouldn’t think have added sugar in them often do these days!
Why Limit Added Sugar?
Being overweight has been connected to a host of diseases including Type-2 diabetes so being a healthy weight should be one of our primary goals to be healthy. If we are at a healthy weight, we are likely eating many of the foods that can be healthy for us such as eating more veggies.
Not only is sugar high in calories which will thwart your weight-loss efforts, but it has also been shown to be addicting, too. I am only one person, but I notice if I have dessert one day, I will want it every day after that until I stop the pattern. I need to stop dessert for an entire day and then I’m back to not having a sweet tooth.
Sugar is addictive primarily because it triggers the release of dopamine which makes you feel happy and more energetic (until you crash, of course!). Before you reach for that sugary food, consider exercising (which can also release dopamine and stress) or asking a loved one for a hug. 😉
If you’ve successfully given up added sugar for two weeks, you may still occasionally want something sweet. This is especially true when you’re tired because your body looks for a quick pick-me-up. How can you satisfy your sweet tooth but still eat healthily?
Here are 5 healthy sweet snack ideas:
Fruits and Veggies With Peanut Butter (or Other Nut Butter)
Sometimes you just want to have a crunchy snack or a sweet snack, or both! Having a vegetable or fruit with peanut butter can satisfy your sweet tooth believe it or not. Here are a few veggies and fruits on which you can add peanut butter:
- Apples (one of my favorite snacks!)
And, sometimes, you can just eat a teaspoon of peanut butter for a quick snack that will taste sweet.
But, we do have to be careful about what kind of peanut butter or nut butter we use. Many of the well-known brands of peanut butter have sugar in them. Even if it has the same number of calories, this can negatively impact your health along with the other ingredients in it. This can get in the way of your weight loss and health goals such as reducing your risk of cancer. Sugar does not cause cancer, don’t worry! But, it has been shown an increased risk in some types of cancer.
When choosing the nut butter, be sure to get the “no added sugar peanut butter” because we don’t necessarily want to use a sugar substitute. Ideally, you are training your taste buds to need less sweetness all-around and it will help you with your weight loss goals. Here are a few nut butters to consider:
- Crazy Richard’s 100% Peanuts Peanut Butter – As “crazy” as it sounds, the only ingredient is peanuts! Just as it should be… and only 90 calories. But, if you don’t have to watch your sodium intake too closely (we should all watch it some), you might prefer the flavor of the Santa Cruz version which has just a little salt in it. If you have a Whole Foods near you, you can pick up their 365 Brand No Sugar Added and No Salt peanut butter.
- PBFit Peanut Butter Powder – This has a couple more ingredients but you can toss a little of this powder into your protein shake or mix with water to make a little peanut butter. It’s low in fat and sugar!
- Don’t like peanuts, allergic to peanuts, or simply want something different? Be sure to try almond butter (1 TB = 90 calories) or cashew butter (1 TB = 95 calories)! The key to eating a healthy diet is in the variety in fruits, vegetables, meats, and nuts. Plus, it makes it much less boring!
Healthy Sweet Snack Ideas – Bars Made with Figs and Dates
When you look up snack bars that are healthy, you will typically find many made with figs and dates. That’s because dates and figs are so sweet but are dried fruit. Therefore, they do not have “added sugar.”
You do have to be careful, though, because dried fruit is very calorie-dense. Calorie-dense foods have a lot of calories in a small amount of food similar to a spoonful of peanuts versus peanut butter. A spoonful of peanut butter will have double the number of calories! Just 5 dates will have 100 calories so while it might seem like you can eat as many as you want, you should be cautious.
Healthy sweet snacks will often have figs and/or dates in them but just make sure you eat just one serving size. Here are a few snacks to consider:
- Paleo Energy Bars – These are a good choice because even if you aren’t on a Paleo diet per se, Paleo recipes will never have added sugar in them nor dairy so it will keep the calories a bit lower. But, again, make sure you don’t eat them as a “free for all.” Nuts and dried fruit are both high in calories. Eat just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Fig Bars – These are another good choice because they are lower in sugar and calories but really easy to make.
- Frooze Bars – My neighbor and friend turned me onto these. They are all-natural, vegan, and no added sugar. I am not a vegan but since I can’t eat dairy, vegan products make it easy for me to avoid dairy. I don’t always have time to make my own food so these are great and I just added them to my Amazon subscription so a box comes every month. The pack is almost 300 calories, though, so if you are only satisfying your sweet tooth, be sure to eat just 2 or 3 of the “balls,” saving the rest in a baggie. I sometimes use them as a meal replacement, though, and eat the entire pack.
Granola Bars Lower in Sugar
Granola bars used to be regarded as “healthy” many years ago but now, many of them are packed with sugar. So, be sure to look for lower added sugar options. Remember, the nutrition label is required to separate total sugar versus added sugar. Try to choose items with 5-7 grams (or less) of added sugar. Here are a few to consider:
- Healthy Granola Bars – These bars are only 120 calories and low in sugar. I highly recommend you use dark chocolate chips which have zero grams of added sugar, though. I never liked dark chocolate myself until I cut out sugar for 30 days. Again, your palate will completely change if you do this experiment. Even semi-sweet chocolate chips have 8 grams of sugar in one tablespoon and 70 calories. Yikes! That will undo all your hard work quickly. Compare that to 60 calories in 60 dark chocolate chips! You won’t be sorry.
- If you have time to make your own and freeze them for later, I highly recommend you make a variety of flavors. Here are Granola Bars 12 Ways.
- I’m not sure about you, but I am a busy mom and business owner, so I don’t always have time to do a lot of food prep. If you buy granola bars, just be sure to check the nutrition label and choose wisely. These Junkless Chewy Granola Bars are low in sugar. Even the “Cinnamon Roll” flavor is only 6 grams of added sugar!
Most bars made with dates and figs will have nuts in them, too, but some people don’t like dates, figs, or any dried fruit really. In addition, if you are like me and try to limit the intake of carbs, you might not want a granola bar. Enter nut bars! Here are a few nut bar recipes or pre-made ones:
- Homemade Nut Bars – These bars have just 5 ingredients and take about 45 minutes to make. With only 5 grams of sugar and 106 calories, these will keep you satisfied for several hours.
- If you have a little more time, you might prefer more ingredients for more flavor and texture. These Homemade Kind Bars will fit the bill but consider that they have double the calories and double the sugar, too. You might want to cut them smaller if you are looking for a quick 100-calorie snack.
- If you’re like me and don’t always have time, you can opt for an actual Kind Bar that has just a few ingredients and lots of flavor varieties!
Healthy sweet snack ideas don’t have to be complicated, though. Sometimes you just need something simple and quick.
Healthy Sweet Snack Ideas With Fruit
This list wouldn’t be complete without adding fruit to the list! Although it might be obvious, I do want to reiterate that once you cut out added sugar (and limit total sugar if you want) for at least two weeks, fruit will taste even sweeter! There are many ways to make your fruit feel more like a dessert. Here are a few ideas:
- Add Yogurt – Putting your berries or other fruit into greek-style yogurt is an easy way to turn fruit into dessert!
- Add whipped cream – What? Nicole is telling you to eat whipped cream? While whippped cream isn’t the healthiest food choice, it isn’t the worst and you only need a dollup to feel like you’re eating dessert. Look for a lower sugar or even a no-sugar option. You can even make your own sugar-free whipped cream. Of course, these require sugar replacements which isn’t my favorite thing to do health-wise or habit-wise but these are for treats not an every-day occurrence, ideally. I like to change our daily habits as much as possible so finding too many “replacements” can make it hard for you to adopt a new lifestyle.
- Use sweeter fruit – Different fruit will be in season at different times of the year so keep that in mind as you choose which fruit you eat. You can also put fruit together that’s sweeter. Again, be careful about calories but if you put a few pineapple chunks in with some other type of fruit, it will really sweeten things up!
- Add some chocolate – Again, dark chocolate has fewer calories as well as little to no sugar. You can use the dark chocolate baking squares above to melt onto your strawberries, for example. Or, if you eat a square or two of 72% dark chocolate, you will add less than 5 grams of sugar to your dessert. If you can go even higher in your chocolate percentage, you’ll get even less but I do find that is an even more acquired taste I have yet to achieve.
I hope this list of 5 healthy sweet snack ideas has helped you with your goals. If you haven’t already, be sure to download our free e-Book with 10 Practical Tips to Lose Weight Without Counting Calories.