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Dieting tends to conjure up images of boring plates of boiled chicken and broccoli, or egg whites and spinach. But your favorite sweet treats don’t have to be off the menu, provided you give them a few small tweaks.

Sugar is everywhere in our diets. From the obvious foods such as desserts, cakes and pies, to the not so obvious like fruit, your regular morning cereals, or the ketchup you add to your burger. While fat has been demonized as the macro-nutrient most likely to contribute to obesity, heart disease and early death in the past, sugar could be just as detrimental, of not more so.

You can’t really single out one aspect as being the cause of illness, disease and obesity, so you shouldn’t put all the blame on sugar, but your sweet tooth definitely won’t be helping your weight loss or health.

Most sweet treats contain a large number of calories. Take something as seemingly innocent as a McDonalds strawberry milkshake. One large shake has 79 grams of sugar and 550 calories, while a Krispy Kreme iced donut has 66 grams of the white stuff.

Even something supposedly healthy, like fruit can come with a huge amount of sugar. Your average banana has just under 30 grams of sugar, an apple around 20 grams and a large handful of raisins about 30 grams too.

Unfortunately, those calories all add up. And let’s not forget, sugar is extremely easy to over consume. Who really stops at just one piece of apple pie or one cookie. Even with fruit, if you’ve got a box of grapes on your desk in the office, you’ll probably munch through the whole lot in an afternoon without even thinking about.

The trouble with sugar is not just the extra calories you’re consuming (1 gram of sugar has 4 calories) but everything else sugar can do to you.

Sugar plays havoc with your levels of insulin, which can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and also contributes to fat storage, according to coach Charles Poliquin of the Poliquin Performance Center in Rhode Island. It can also raise your risk of osteoporosis and cancer, plus those added calories are no good for your waistline.

Some people just can’t control their sweet tooth though.

If you’re one of those people who just has to have a daily sugar fix, it can be hard to eliminate or even cut down on sugar. You become so reliant on it that you often feel like you can’t get through the day without something sweet. A night in at home on the sofa becomes unbearable without a bar of chocolate, bowl of popcorn or can of drink.

Fear not though, there are plenty of ways you can still serve your sweet tooth without your daily sugar count racking up and derailing your weight loss progress.

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