PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – How often do you find yourself craving something sweet and could it be a sugar addiction?

Nutritionist Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN of ActiveEatingAdvice.com says it’s not an addiction, it’s a natural desire for one of the five primary tastes.

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“It’s enjoyable,” she says. “It provides comfort, it provides relaxation. It’s why we seek it out.”

The key, Bonci says, is taking a reasonable approach.

“We may be able to eat it in more controlled amounts rather than say ‘I’ll save it up, I’ll save it up, I’ll only eat a cookie, oh my god, I ate the whole bag,’ because that is what happens every single time,” she explains.

Bonci says to adjust your sugar intake, make a plan for it.

“If you make an allowance for it without the guilts, you’re probably going to eat it in a more appropriate amount, and you’re not necessarily going to overshoot, what it is that your body needs,” Bonci says.

But remember she says, gauging your sugar intake is about more than just sweets. Every carb turns into sugar. So you have to consider your intake of bread, rice, and pasta to name a few.

“If you want something sweet, can you do a swap for it? I really like to have some ice cream at the conclusion of a meal, could you have that maybe, in place of the rice or the pasta or maybe the bun on that hamburger that might not be so tasty and instead of that, you have what it is you really want, so you’re not adding it to the day, you’re replacing that sweet,” she says.

When it comes to changing what goes in Bonci says a big item is to replace soda with either diet drinks or flavored “fizzy” drinks.

When it comes to breakfast she says to make sure you include some form of protein.

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“Because protein does a job of helping to stabilize blood glucose, over the course of the morning,” and that puts off your cravings, Bonci says.

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Bonci says too much has been made about eliminating sugar.

She says unless you have a medical reason, “I don’t know that it’s necessary to do that again because it is that taste that really gives us comfort.”

Try satisfying the cravings with berries, avocados, or pistachios.

“It is, at least with the pistachios and with the avocado have fat, and when you eat enough fat, it might help somewhat to curb some of those sugar cravings. When you eat the berries, they’re sweet. They have fluid. They have fiber, so that also helps to make you feel fuller, so you might be able to get away with having less of that item that is sweet,” she explains.

A lot of sugar can be eliminated in the cooking process she says.

“I love the idea of using sweet spices, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, they’re all sweet even adding some extracts to thing of vanilla extract, lemon extract, almond extract, they give you that taste of sweet, but they do it without sweet in them,” she explains. “Adding a little squeeze of orange juice, orange zest is my X-Factor in recipes because it brings a little bit of sweet and tart it’s like, ‘Whoo, that’s delicious.'”

One of the keys to reducing your sugar intake Bonci says is to get it out of the shadows. Stop the sneak-eating and instead make it part of the plan for the day.

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That was you can enjoy it guilt-free.