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Pulling that sweet tooth

Dear Annie: I’ve had a HUGE sweet tooth all my life. I have also always been very active, and I eat healthy foods. However, I’m nervous that this is not enough to balance my intake of sugary goodies.

Now that I’m older, I realize that I can’t keep eating so many sweets. Diabetes is common in my family, and my grandfather passed away from it when he was 46. Other members of my family have early stages of diabetes, and I am nervous that I will have it when I’m older, too, even though I eat healthy and exercise.

What are the best alternatives to eating sweets? You rock! — Sweet Tooth

Dear Sweet Tooth: I’m sorry about your grandfather. You are very wise to begin to think of ways to curb your sweet tooth. Too much sugar not only can lead to diabetes but a whole host of other health problems. The good news is that you are not alone. Craving sweets is an evolutionary behavior that kept our ancestors safe from eating poisonous plants. Some healthier alternatives to sugar are maple syrup, dark chocolate, honey and fruit. After eating these natural alternatives, my guess is that if you tried to go back to processed sugar, you would think it tasted too sweet.

While you’re weaning yourself off of sugary treats, consider trying sugar-free candies. They can help satisfy your use for sweets without all the sugar. Best of luck, and congratulations on putting your health first. We only get one body; taking care of it is one of the most important things we can do.

Dear Annie: I am writing in response to “Big City Drinker” and wanted to share that they are not alone in wondering if they’ve become an alcoholic through being in and around a bar scene so often.

During my graduate college years, I worked at a bar and found myself struggling with the same situation. I was lucky to have friends who noticed I was going downhill and would call me out on it. It’s still something I have to keep a close eye on, even though I don’t work in a bar anymore. I found that, for me, the bar was a familiar place where I felt all my friends were. I wanted to stay with these friends and co-workers and blow off steam after being treated poorly by patrons on many occasions. After some time, it was hard to separate in my mind my friends from the bar. Eventually, however, I found that the true friends stuck by me as I gradually chose to be “boring” and go home instead of hanging out until 1 or 2 in the morning.

Best of luck to “Big City Drinker.” Many of us out here have felt something similar to what you feel. — Fellow Bar Friend

Dear Fellow Bar Friend: Great work in recognizing that the bar lifestyle was not working for you. Your letter brings up a very important point; namely, that your true friends stuck by you when you went home early. Who wants fake friends? By recognizing that late-night drinking isn’t working for you anymore, you will feel better both in your body and in your soul.

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