What Are Sweet Cravings?
Sweet cravings are those annoying pesky urges for a sweet fix that just won’t go away. They are difficult to control, even harder to ignore and down right dangerous if you let them take over your life.
We have sweet cravings because at some level we have become addicted to the sugar that is in all the sweet stuff we love so much. It’s almost like a drug. The more we have it, the more we want and need it. Our brains trick us by making us feel good when we eat it, and tell us we should have more of it, even though the high doesn’t last very long.
The more we give into these cravings the more dependant our bodies become on needing sugar all the time. For breakfast, for lunch, for dinner, and in between. Even after dinner, before bed. Before you know it you are downing processed refined sugars every time you eat something and the awful thing is, many of us don’t even realise it.
Sugar certainly is sweet. It can also be sickly and those sweet cravings can rule our lives if we choose to let it be that way. When you understand how to manage your cravings, a whole host of flow on effects will start to unfold like:
- better quality uninterrupted sleep
- more energy and motivation (goodbye energy slumps)
- improved moods, skin and complexion
- confidence will boost
- you'll loose the muffin top
- you'll also begin to start undoing the damage that sugar has done to your body
All because you made a few small changes which can have a significant impact to both physical and mental health.
Why Do We Crave Sweet Things Particularly After Dinner?
We crave sweet things after dinner because we are dehydrated, haven’t eaten enough protein or fibre (vegetables) at dinner, are feeling emotional and think that something sweet will fix it, or are just in habit of snacking when bored/watching TV/reading/talking on the phone. You get the picture. Eating mindlessly whilst doing something else. Have you done this? I know I have.
How To Stop Sweet Cravings After Dinner
1. Eat More Protein At Dinner: Protein makes us feel fuller for longer so if you can eat more lean protein (think Chicken and Fish dinners) and include a good amount of veges or salad you’ll have less likelihood of feeling hungry 15 minutes after dinner finishes. Also, you might want to think about reducing the store bought sauces and dressings as these contain an obscene amount of sugar and you don’t need them anyway.
2. Exercise in the Evenings: as a former fitness trainer for over 12 years, I was used to doing exercise both early in the morning and in the evening. From having experienced both I have found exercising in the evening helps me to eat healthier, and eat less. There’s also the psychological element of not wanting to undo my good work at the gym with eating rubbishy sweet things.
In the rare event I do feel like an after dinner snack, I will have one of three things: 10 to 12 almonds, a small amount of yoghurt with fruit, or 2 small pieces of cheese
3. Drink a Calming Herbal Tea: I was first introduced to herbal teas many years ago and some of my favourite ones are from T2. They have so many different ones with hints of different flavours which can take the end off when you need just a little bit of something sweet. Sipping on a cup of tea also acts as a distraction in a way and I find by the time I’ve finished it any hint of craving something sweet is gone.
4. Don’t Keep Sweet Treats In The House: If you’re anything like me, if its in the house, it will be eaten. I know that if I have cookies, ice cream and chocolate in the house I will eat it all, probably in one sitting. Therefore I just don’t keep it in the house anymore. It doesn’t mean I don’t ever eat sweet things. Occasionally I do, I am human after all. I just make it harder for myself to access the stuff. The more effort it takes to get it, the less I want it.
Often times as well, we reach for things on autopilot, out of habit or out of boredom. If its not there, neither is the temptation.
5. Increase your Water Intake Throughout the Day: To say I’m slightly obsessed with drinking water would be an understatement. I always have a water bottle on me wherever I go. Drinking around 2 litres of water a day definitely helps me to avoid snacking during the day and because I’m not snacking on sugary stuff during the day, I feel like it much less at night. It comes back to the less sugar you’re consuming, the less sugar you crave.
Swapping fizzy drinks (even sugar free and low calorie ones) for drinking more water is one of the easiest ways to reduce sweet cravings.
6. Distract Yourself with something else: It can be really hard to settle down in front of the TV after dinner for an hour of relaxing quality time, chilling out to your favourite show when all you can think about is the ice cream in the freezer, or the chocolate in the cupboard.
Instead of getting your hands on a bowl of ice cream or a packet of chocolate, get your hands on a pair of knitting needles, or a crochet hook and a ball of wool. This worked for me. I have a mini obsession with crocheting scarves and beenies, and I live in a tropical climate! It keeps my hands busy and my mind occupied. To date I have hand crocheted over 50 scarves, many of which I have donated to charity.
Of course there are the ones I keep and wear on our trips to Japan every couple of years for skiing and snowboarding. Another distraction I have is photo editing. I take photos with my DSLR, and often spend a few nights a week in Lightroom editing them completely oblivious to sweet cravings as I’m so focused on the task at hand.
If knitting or crocheting isn’t your thing, how about, scrapbooking, drawing, or journaling.
My husbands after dinner “thing” is researching. He loves collating research about all things boats.
7. Have a protein snack instead: If the lure of cravings is just too strong, then choose your snack differently. As soon as you feel an after dinner craving come on, have a large drink of water, followed by a few almonds, ½ a cup of yoghurt, a couple of pieces of good quality cheese, or even a spoonful of natural peanut butter on a banana. With these types of after dinner snacks you’ll only need a small amount to hit the spot, unlike a sweet thing, where you generally need pretty much the entire thing.
I eat a lot of peanut butter. Here’s my favourite one: Mayvers Super Natural Smooth Peanut Butter
The wrap up: Getting your sweet after dinner cravings under control doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t even need willpower. What it does need though is a conscious effort to make a few small changes to your daily habits, one day at a time so that new healthier habits form.
In reality I don’t think just one of these things will make a massive difference, it’s more about taking a little bit from each one and building up on it to form better ways of eating.
Here's how to get started: get rid of all the sugary snacks from your pantry and fridge. Take them to work and hand them out to your workmates. Remove the temptation so that it becomes a bigger effort to access naughty sweet things.
Then, Drink more water throughout the day, eat more protein, get more veges on your plate, make exercise a priority, consider herbal teas to wind down the day with and create an after dinner distraction that you can actually stick to and that your waistline will thank you for.
Do you have any other tips for managing after dinner sweet cravings? I love to hear about them if you do!