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Top Tips for Managing Sweet Cravings

Updated: Jan 7


1. Ask yourself if it's hunger.


If it’s been a few hours since your last meal, ask yourself whether you are really just hungry. Try eating something rich in protein, fibre and a source of unsaturated fats. If that doesn’t work, try the below strategies.


2. Avoid low carbohydrate diets.


There is limited evidence to suggest that a specific nutrient causes sugar craving. Although, there is some evidence to suggest diets too low in carbohydrates can cause sugar and carbohydrate cravings so including a variety of wholegrains, fruits and dairy may help to prevent cravings.


3. Try a healthy alternative.


Having something lower in calories/kilojoules and higher in nutrients is one way to satisfy your sweet tooth. Again, opting for something with protein, fibre and fats will help keep you more satisfied. Some examples of healthy alternatives are


· Chia pudding

· Smoothie (add nutritious and satisfying foods like banana, cocoa powder, nut butter, fruit, nuts, cinnamon, seeds etc.)

· Oatmeal with nut butters and cinnamon

· “healthy ice-cream” with blended frozen banana/dark cocoa powder/peanut butter

· 2 pieces of dark chocolate & fruit

· Yoghurt

· Sweet herbal tea


4. Sitting with it and finding a new way to regulate emotions.


Cravings often occur because we are craving a "reward chemical”, dopamine, but thankfully cravings typically subside after 15-20 minutes. Try acknowledging the craving and sitting with it. This tends to happen more regularly when we are stressed out or feeling emotional. Sometimes these habits are so ingrained that we don't realise them. Finding a way to self-soothe/de-stress whether it's cuddling a pillow, colouring in, yoga, meditation, chatting to a friend, watching a movie or journalling our feelings might serve as a more useful distraction instead of heading to the fridge.


5. Exercise.


Exercising works as a distraction and causes a release of “feel good” chemicals.


6. Make sure you’re getting 7-9hrs of sleep per night.


When you don’t get enough sleep the “hunger hormone”, ghrelin, is released in excess. So, making sure you have 7-9 hours sleep each night will help to prevent cravings throughout the day.


7. Reduce access to sweets.


Limit buying them when you go shopping so they aren’t readily available at home. If you do have them in the house, put them somewhere you can’t see them so it’s easier to forget about and only remember when you really want it.


8. Stop putting dessert on a pedestal.


Those who have grown up thinking they can’t have dessert or having dessert on special occasions only are typically the same people who have a compulsive need to eat as much as they can on those occasions because they “can’t” have it later. But have you noticed those people who can stop after one or two squares of chocolate are usually the same people who can have dessert every night without gaining weight? That’s because psychologically, restricting food can in some cases cause an increased pre-occupation with food and increased bingeing when the restricted food is available. For some people, going cold turkey on the sweets might work but for others having a smaller serve of dessert each night as part of a balanced diet might be a better way to manage cravings.


9. Diver’s response.


This one’s an oldie but a goodie! It may not work for everyone but if you’re feeling anxious, placing a cold ice pack on the back of your neck quickly can wake you up and causes you to take a deep breath. I mean, that’s one way to quickly forget about the sweet treats… just try not to look at the ice-cream when you put it back in the fridge.

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©2020 by Mary-Adelle - Dietitian and Nutritionist.

Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

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