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. I am nervous that I will have it when I’m older, too. What are the best alternatives to eating sweets? You rock!

— Sweet Tooth

Dear Sweet Tooth: 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.

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.

Best of luck, and congratulations on putting your health first.