The first month of my Lose the Dough challenge hasn't been easy—especially food-wise. When it comes to the fitness element, it's much easier to step up my intensity or add an extra workout to my week. But when it comes to my eating habits, my sweet tooth reigns supreme. I haven't been able to turn down my favorite treats since starting my challenge. Help!

Then last week a light bulb went off in my head: Almost every time I overindulge in sweets, it's when they are available at home in large portions, like a batch of freshly baked cookies or a pint of Malted Milk Ball Gelato. When the sweets are just sitting around, I can't say no—and I almost always go back for seconds, or thirds!

When I dine out, I can usually talk myself out of ordering a $10 dessert—especially when I'm paying for it. I almost always enjoy an entrée and a cocktail, so it's easy to turn down the waiter's offer to see the dessert menu when the time comes. The act of ordering a dessert makes me stop and think, so I can decide if I really want a sweet treat at the end of the meal. At home, I don't seem to have this time buffer to slow down my actions. I just reach for dessert without a second thought.

Similarly, when it comes to dinner parties or family events, I usually eat a small portion of dessert because I'm typically too embarrassed to go back for a second (or third) serving. At home there's no one watching to see how much I eat. The embarrassment factor is gone, and since the food is available, I feel like I have no reason to not go back for another serving. Of course, I know that I'm consuming more calories than I need to, but the accessibility of the food doesn’t seem to affect the satisfaction of my sweet tooth.

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There's no way I will ever be able to give up dessert completely, so going forward, I've decided to implement a few rules to help me get my portion sizes in control:

  • Enjoy a small treat every day. If I don't allow myself my favorite goodies, I am more likely to overdo it.

  • Find a 5-minute distraction. Before reaching for another cookie, I will try to find something to distract my sweet tooth—like checking my email, painting my nails, or running a quick errand. Getting my mind off dessert is the key to prevent overindulging at home.

  • Consider the consequences. My goal for Lose the Dough is to shape up and look great for my 30th birthday. Reminding myself of this goal will help me turn down more dessert than I need!

Read Tina's daily food and fitness blog, Carrots 'N' Cake.