The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

Think you can’t resist chocolate or cakes? Bear in mind that you’re more likely to indulge a sweet tooth if you’re hungry. So always eat three well-balanced meals, spread evenly, and have healthy ingredients, such as fruit, nuts or low-fat yogurt to snack on. Eating regularly keeps blood sugar levels topped up, preventing dips that send you racing for the biscuit tin. When you do decide to treat yourself, use these tricks to stop you going overboard.

Watch serving sizes

Often we just need a little taste to satisfy a craving, so don’t automatically reach for the standard-size version of your favourite sweet treat. Are you able to get it in a smaller size? Go for one scoop of ice cream rather than a double, or a treat-size bar of chocolate instead of the regular one.

Make a healthier swap

Sugary foods are often high in fat, so if you can’t resist, satisfy your sweet tooth with the food you fancy – but choose a lower-fat or lower-calorie variety. If you crave a creamy hot chocolate, choose a low-fat instant hot choc. And, instead of that handful of chocolates, have a few fat-free jelly beans.

Pick the seasonal best

It’s a lot easier to opt out of the office chocolate run if you keep a bowl of fruit on your desk – but it needs be at its best to be an appealing alternative to a biscuit. Fruit that’s in season tastes sweeter. Stock up on citrus fruits, apples and pears in autumn and winter, and in spring and summer choose delicious sweet berries and stone fruits, such as peaches and nectarines.

Let the sweet message sink in

After eating a satisfying main course, many of us will still end a meal with a pud – which may appeal but not suit any weight-loss plans. The key is to wait at least 15 minutes before having dessert to give your brain time to recognise your stomach is actually full. If then you still feel like something sweet, choose a low-fat treat such as fruit salad, sugar-free jelly, baked apples or lemon sorbet.

Don’t rush things

We often eat sweet food on the go – something we’ve picked up at the supermarket on the way home from work or a sweet drink gulped down as we’re walking. If you’re going to have a sweet treat, take the time to enjoy it: sit down, relax and eat it slowly, so you get maximum pleasure from it.

Brush your teeth

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, but when sugar cravings hit, get your toothbrush out. Toothpaste leaves a fresh, mint flavour in your mouth that actually spoils the flavour of classic sweet treats such as biscuits and confectionery.

*Weight-loss results will vary and are down to your individual circumstances and the amount of weight you have to lose.