Many of you, like me, probably experience those after dinner/evening cravings for “something sweet.” This experience is one of the most common things that people that I work with complain about. Many will be doing great on their diets until the evening rolls around and then they start to get that little voice in their head and stomach telling them that they must head over to the candy jar and grab something out and more often than not, it doesn’t end with just one. So, what to do? Are we doomed to spend the rest of our lives feeling guilty for these cravings as we continuously try to curb them?
Fortunately, there are quite a few solutions to this problem most people experience. The best way to succeed in curbing these cravings is to start with the day, this means breakfast. Ensure you eat a well rounded breakfast consisting of primarily whole grains each morning. Options include oats, whole grain toast or a whole grain cereal like cheerios. Have healthy, “sweet” snacks in between meals, like fruit. Ensure that you are drinking plenty of water all throughout the day, at least 2 liters. When dinner rolls around, ensure that you are eating a meal that is well-rounded with grains, vegetables, fats and protein so that your body is receiving all of the “satisfying” signals that it desires. In the evening and during dinner try to limit screen time as much as possible. Screens make us feel hungrier and experience more cravings than we truly have and they send our body a variety of confusing signals that may make us crave things that we don’t actually need. When you find yourself feeling that evening hankering for something sweet, reach for a piece of fruit or dark chocolate (with no sugar added) and eat small portions of these things, slowly with no distractions. Lastly, ensure that you are getting enough quality sleep each night, exhaustion can lead to cravings later in the day. So, what is quality sleep? Quality sleep is defined as falling asleep soon after getting into bed, within 30 minutes or less, sleeping straight through the night, waking up no more than once per night, and being able to sleep the recommended amount of hours for your age group.
You may still find yourself experiencing these cravings even though you have done everything listed above. This is when the idea that your cravings may be emotional must be considered. Are you bored and reaching for sweets as a way to entertain yourself? Try finding a “healthy” distraction like reading a book or working on a craft. If you find yourself still reaching for something sweet, this may be a way of satisfying some emotions, take a moment and consider how you are feeling and why. Maybe start a journal to write about how you are feeling when you start to crave something sweet. You may even try a supplement like Gymnema that works to make sweet foods taste bitter not long after you take it. This associates the emotional need for sweets with something bitter and may retrain the brain to no longer crave sweet foods as a means for emotional support. Hopefully you can take some of these tips to move through your evening each day with success in avoiding those tempting sweets!