Do you often crave something sweet after finishing your meal? I know I do!
I always get a lot of questions about this and I think, as it’s getting colder, we become even more likely to reach for something sweet after eating, especially after dinner when we’re at home. Gone are the good old days that sweet treats were used as a pre workout before hitting the gym.
Your body is smarter than you think. If you always have something sweet after a meal, like a cake or even a cake topper, your body will start to expect something sweet and nag you incessantly until you give it that sweet fix – because you’ve trained your body to think that your meal isn’t finished until you’ve had that piece of chocolate, biscuit, cake or lollie.
Below I’ve written some tips that will help adjust your lifestyle to stop the sweet cravings, which doesn’t mean eliminating sweets altogether.
Table of Contents
1. MIX IT UP
The first thing you have to ask yourself is, how interesting do I find the food? Food doesn’t just have to fill you up, in order to really satiate you, it needs to be interesting, i.e. have different flavours or look like something you’d only get on a special occasion such as a mother’s day gift.
If you eat a whole plate of savoury food you’ll most likely crave something sweet after simply because, while eating, you’ve got bored of that one flavour profile. To counter this, try giving your body a new flavour to help fight the oncoming craving, potentially eliminating it altogether. For example, if you’re eating a burrito bowl, it could be as easy as adding chunks of avocado on top.
You can mix interesting foods and flavours into your regular food or you could have it after. The most common example of this is having a piece of fruit after having something like porridge or cereal.
Remember, just because you’re craving something sweet, doesn’t mean you automatically have to go for the chocolate. That doesn’t mean not having chocolate altogether, it just means picking your battles.
2. DON’T STARVE YOURSELF
When sweet cravings get too much to handle a common way of dealing with it is to trick your mind into “saving” calories for a specific meal or treat. For example, someone eating lettuce for lunch because they know they’re going to have Dominos for dinner. This is not sustainable or manageable long-term.
When someone does this they’ll end up eating up to 4 times as much as they had planned, simply because they were STARVING by the time the meal or treat came around. To combat this, make sure you eat foods that fill you up but are still lower in calories (if you’re still planning on “saving” calories for a more calorie dense meal). When making these decisions, refer back to my first article and think of foods that are high in protein and fibre.
3. EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Most people who are struggling with sweet cravings aren’t eating enough fruit and vegetables – which ties in with my last point (2). Fruit and vegetables can add some serious bulk to your meals, while making them interesting, as well as providing your body with plenty of vitamins, minerals and fibre. By adding a piece of fruit or cup of veggies to your meals, you’ll get more “bang for buck” when it comes to calories, allowing you to eat MORE but for LESS calories.
Make it a habit to ask for “extra vegetables” when eating out or taking an extra piece of fruit with you to work as a snack. You’ll also find that, by eating sweet fruits, you’ll automatically be eliminating your body’s need for something sweet, effectively killing two birds with one orange.
4. DON’T LET YOURSELF GET THIRSTY
We often confuse our hunger for thirst as the sensations are similar, especially after eating. If you’ve just had a big meal and didn’t drink enough water during it, your body is much more likely to tell you to reach for that bottle of Coke or that piece of cheeky chocolate in the fridge.
To help with this I recommend making a habit of drinking one glass of water before and after each meal, or a couple of glasses during it. It’s also a good idea to carry around a water bottle with you at all times, as this reminds you to keep drinking and tracking how much you’ve had. If you get into the habit of staying hydrated, your body’s need to have something sweet won’t be as intense.
5. BE PATIENT
This one is easy. Wait. Be patient and give yourself permission to have that ‘treat’ but only if you’ve waited for it. I suggest getting into the habit of putting a time limit on it and keeping that as consistent as possible, so your body gets used it and the cravings die down.
You’ll find that if you REALLY and TRULY want that treat, you’ll still have it after that hour is up, nothing will stop you. However, most of the time you’ll find that your cravings will subside and pass if you give them some time, eventually causing you to break the “I must have a treat after dinner” habit completely. It might take a few weeks or months to break but if you stay consistent it CAN be done.