Recently, I was teaching a class and a participant described the urge to eat sugary foods after dinner. She said that sometimes it would be so strong that she would even leave her house at night and drive somewhere to buy what she craved. I think that’s a pretty strong urge, right?! The only time I ever had food cravings strong enough to get me out of my house once I’m home and comfortable after dinner was when I was pregnant!
But the reality is that sugary food cravings can be incredibly strong. I’m not one to throw around terms like addiction when it comes to food, because I know what true addiction and substance abuse can be like. Desiring sweet foods doesn’t lead people to steal, destroy their relationships, or kill. Still, it can be overwhelming for some people. What to do? Here are some things that help me battle my own sugar cravings.
First, recognize that it’s okay to enjoy a little sweet foods in your life. Sometimes the thing driving us is really taboo. When we make something off-limits, we feel deprived. Feeling deprived leads to obsessive thoughts and that can lead to impulse control issues. Allowing yourself to have a little of the things you enjoy is not a bad thing. Healthy eating leaves room for indulgence. I have at least a square of really good quality chocolate most days of the week.
Second, choose well and savor. Don’t eat junky sweets (as a habit). Make your sweets count by choosing really high quality pre-portioned dark chocolate. Eat it slowly and really taste the deep cocao flavor. Decide you are not going to just settle for any old sweet thing, but that you’re going to make it count. While I occasionally indulge in what I call “cheap sweets”, I really save myself for high quality chocolate and rich ice cream shop treats as a special occasion. I also take my time.
The third thing I do is give myself a little time. Let’s say I had a special treat early in the day. Now it’s after dinner and I want something sweet. Instead of immediately running to my chocolate stash, I will give myself some time. If I spend 10 or 15 minutes doing something else, it’s often enough time for me to forget that craving entirely. Some ideas of things to do instead include taking a walk, doing laundry, washing the dishes, and playing with my family.
Finally, brush your teeth. This really works for me! After dinner, I allow myself my little square of chocolate. If I still want something after that, I will go brush my teeth. The minty flavor ruins the flavor of anything else that I try to eat, so I’m less inclined. Plus, once my teeth are clean, I don’t want to gunk up my mouth again. Mentally, this is like closing the kitchen.
What are your tips for beating the sugar cravings? I’m always looking for ideas!