It’s normal to crave something sweet now and then—humans are hardwired to seek sweet tastes. However, allowing your sweet tooth to take over can undo all the hard work you did during your weight loss phase. Here are five strategies to help you manage cravings for sweets:
Optimize your diet.
Keep your blood sugar on an even keel by eating regular meals and snacks made up of a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. By fueling your body properly, you’ll avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes, and should also experience fewer cravings for sweets. Especially important is your intake of quality lean protein and healthy fats, both of which your body digests more slowly than carbohydrates, keeping your blood sugar steadier.
Check your emotions.
Sometimes when you crave something sweet, you’re really craving something else altogether. When a sweets craving hits, use the opportunity to examine your emotional state. Often we crave sweets when we’re stressed or anxious, and who isn’t stressed or anxious on occasion? Choose healthier de-stressers, such as going for a walk, taking a nap or going to bed early, or chatting with a supportive friend.
Make a list of strategies for riding out a craving.
Instead of overindulging on a something you are craving, try redirecting your thoughts / hunger. Come up with a list of small pleasures to treat yourself with, or activities to distract you. Many cravings will disappear after about 15-20 minutes. Brew a cup of tea, take a walk, do a crossword puzzle or sudoku, read or watch something funny, or call a friend. You might also snack on fruit, chew gum, or sip a sweet-tasting herbal tea when you feel an urge for something sweet. You’ll be more successful if you have a number of different strategies to choose from.
Get enough sleep.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin. Being sleep deprived also reduces your willpower and increases cravings for unhealthy foods, including sweet things. You may find your cravings fading away or becoming weaker when you regularly get enough sleep. For most folks, that’s around seven to eight hours each night.
Plan an indulgence.
Once you’ve reached the Maintenance phase, you may be able to allow yourself a sweet treat occasionally. If so, plan your indulgence and adjust your diet plan accordingly. Choose a small portion of something high quality and satisfying—one perfect dark chocolate sea salt caramel, a scoop of gelato, a small slice of your favorite cake. Eat slowly, tasting and savoring every bite. Just knowing you have a sweet treat in store may help you have fewer cravings. The good news is the better you care for yourself physically and emotionally, the fewer sweets cravings you’ll be likely to have. Remember these strategies as you move into maintaining your weight loss.