Who does not know it – the craving for sweets? You pull yourself together all day and try not to eat too much and as healthily as possible. After all, you want to lose some weight and maybe define your muscles .
Then in the evening on the sofa, after supper, you think of the bar of chocolate in your candy drawer. At first only very briefly, then more and more frequently. Suddenly you notice how you get really hungry and your stomach feels completely empty. You get up and get a piece of chocolate, stuff it in your mouth and sit down again.
Less than two minutes later you start walking again and just to be on the safe side take the whole bar of chocolate with you – which of course you also completely plastered. While you are eating the chocolate, you are doing great and you are happy. A few minutes later, however, you have a bad conscience. Why does this happen? We all know very well that a whole bar of chocolate is unhealthy – we also know that at this moment. But why are we not able to leave these “bad” sweets in the cupboard?
“Would you like a piece of chocolate too?”
“Sweet as you pronounce the bar …”
In this article, I’ll explain three possible causes of your cravings for sweets. You will also get the right tips on how to organize your day so that these unpleasant situations do not occur as often and if they do, how you can best deal with them.
Why do you get cravings for sweets? – illness
Most unlikely, but possible, is disease. Diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or bulimia can trigger such food cravings. If you suspect something of this kind, please consult a doctor immediately. Here you need help from a specialist. A blog article should and cannot be the solution here. With the following tips there is more of a risk of making things worse.
Why do you get cravings for sweets? – Your body is hungry
Cravings for sweets can simply have a physiological reason – that is, your body is hungry. Cravings for sweets are usually associated with low blood sugar levels. In this case, your body needs quick energy, which it can quickly transport via the blood to the required locations such as organs and muscles. Fast energy is short-chain carbohydrates such as sweets. So your body has a big hunger hole and you are trying, which is completely normal with regard to your primal instinct, to fill it effectively
One thing is often ignored here: Due to evolution, the human body is adjusted to a significantly lower energy density than is the case today. Because times have changed. Instead of collecting berries outside and laboriously killing a Mamut, today we comfortably order an ice cream after a stressful day at the office. The estimated average energy density of food from our Stone Age ancestors was around 110kcal / 100g. In contrast, chocolate has around 500kcal / 100g. Coupled with little exercise, regular cravings for sweets are quite problematic – at least that’s what the scales say, because every second adult is overweight.
In addition, cravings for sweets can occur especially after or during a diet, as the body tries to compensate for the loss of calories as quickly as possible. The same can happen to you with long breaks or many snacks that bring little energy.
Another classic is the cravings for sweets after exercise. During sporting activities, you empty your carbohydrate stores, which your body needs to keep you moving all day. If these are empty after a hard training session, your body understandably wants to fill them up again as quickly as possible. Here, too, quickly available carbohydrates are at the top of the list of favorite foods.
What is also clearly underestimated by many is the lack of sleep. If your body didn’t get enough sleep, it wasn’t able to fill up with enough energy during your resting phase. He may try to get this back in through food intake.
Special conditions for cravings for sweets can also be used in growth phases in adolescents or pregnancy and lactation. As your body grows or during pregnancy or breastfeeding, your body demands more energy. A baby’s growth and feeding are quite demanding on a body. But watch out here too: the calorie consumption during pregnancy only increases in the last third of the pregnancy – and here only by 200 kcal. By the way, that’s only a slice of bread with cheese if you leave out the butter.
Avoid physiological cravings for sweets
Tip 1 against cravings for sweets: Drink enough
Do you drink enough? Often you mistake a thirst for a feeling of hunger. Take your body weight, halve it and divide it by 10. This is how many liters of unsweetened liquid you should consume per day. So if you weigh 70kg, you should consume 3.5 liters of fluids a day. Water (also with lemon, lime, ginger or mint), tea and a 4: 1 mixed juice spritzer are well suited to meet your daily requirement.
Tip 2 against cravings for sweets: Leave out the sugar substitutes
Many light or diet products contain sweeteners and other sugar substitutes. Many of these substances trick your body into thinking that it is getting sugar that is not actually there. This makes it possible for you to get hungry again very quickly. If you can’t resist your cravings for sweets, the calories you just saved will be brought back in very quickly. There are better ways you can replace sugar in a healthier way.
I can really speak from experience here. For months after every lunch I indulged in something sweet. Sometimes sweetened fruit yoghurt, a latte macchiato or even an ice cream. Together with lunch, of course, that already covers a good part of the daily requirement. I wanted to change that and decided to pull a Diet Coke from the machine after every lunch. After about 1-2 hours I was always hungry and ate my afternoon snack. Sometimes a protein bar, also fruit or oat flakes. I also did that for months. The tip of the iceberg was on our Tenerife vacation. I only drank diet soda most of the day.
I decided not to drink any light drinks after the vacation. From 100 to 0. It worked until today. And I just skip my afternoon snack most of the working days. Not because I want it and because I am disciplined, but because I simply don’t need it. If you’re a sugar substitute junkie, give this a try. Yes, the first few days are pretty exhausting and require a lot of discipline, but Diet Coke isn’t always available. “In the past” people got along without something like that.
Tip 3 against cravings for sweets: Distribute your food intake evenly
Only 40% of Germans eat breakfast regularly and thus threefold their risk of becoming overweight. If you withhold too much energy from your body during the day, it will get it back in the evening through cravings for sweets. Your calorie savings spread over the day can even have a negative effect here. If you save breakfast with around 400kcal in the morning and instead eat a bar of chocolate with 500kcal in the evening, you have gained nothing and feel bad about it.
Tip 4 against cravings for sweets: Avoid short-chain carbohydrates
Short-chain carbohydrates, for example in sweets, cause your blood sugar level to rise rapidly. A lot of insulin has to be formed in order to break down blood sugar quickly and transport it to the required locations. Usually the body produces more insulin than it actually needs and lowers your blood sugar level too far.
After a short time you will be hungry again. As learned earlier, on quickly available energy – cravings for sweets. Therefore, if possible, eat foods that slowly raise blood sugar levels. Long-chain carbohydrates like whole wheat bread, rice or potatoes. Also protein-rich foods are quite important and suitable here.
Tip 5 against cravings for sweets: always have something to eat with you
If you notice that hunger is on the rise, you should be able to do something about it immediately. Always have something to eat. To bridge the gap, I always have a protein bar with me, if not at least one Rossmann is nearby. You can leave it in your pocket for several days without anything going bad or messing around.
Protein bars contain protein and do not drive the blood sugar level up steeply. Protein bars are available in all flavors and variations. But before you decide on a particular strain, take a close look at the nutritional values. Some protein bars have similar values to a chocolate bar. Here you have neither the desired effect and even less money in your wallet.
By the way, Jahn also has a second small page where he tests various protein bars, it’s called Protein Bar Junkie .
Why do you get cravings for sweets? – Your head is hungry
It is a basic instinct, the appetite for sweets. In the past, in the Stone Age, there was nothing that was sweet and poisonous. Even in children, you can still admire this basic instinct today. In general, the first food that children get is sweet breast milk. If the child then gives something sour or bitter to eat with advancing age, the face is grimaced and not eaten.
That would rarely happen with a piece of chocolate. This primal instinct is then also supported by some parents with some educational techniques: “First you eat and then you get the fruit dwarf” or “When you have tidied your room, you can choose a sweet”. So reward through sweets.
This lays the mental foundation that sweets are good. In addition, your own body also rewards the enjoyment of sweets. Larger amounts of sugar have a similar effect on the body as the drug heroin – the happiness hormone dopamine is released. Dopamine makes us happy, joyful, and content. And who doesn’t want to be happy and satisfied as often as possible?
Stress, on the other hand, prevents the production of dopamine. So if you had a stressful day, you produced little dopamine – you can compensate for this by consuming sweets. Win-win situation? Hardly, if you consider the influence sugar has on our body.
Very important and not to be forgotten is that humans are creatures of habit. We are naturally lazy. Here we are again with the primordial instincts, in the past people had little to eat and moved a lot. There were no cars, trains, or bicycles. Everything had to be done on foot. Since there was not much to eat, the Stone Age people had to divide up their forces and only move when it was really necessary. Today you don’t have to move much anymore and enough food is available. That’s why lunch is usually served precisely to the point. Do you know Pavlov’s experiment?
It is the same with our food. Your body knows that lunch will be served at 12 o’clock sharp. Your stomach feels empty and you get hungry. And I tell you, it really is. At my work, we usually have lunch at noon. Because of my studies, I often had to go to university for a week for the attendance phase. Guess who sat in the lecture hall in a damn bad mood from 12 o’clock, because the lunch break was only taken at 1 pm. I especially loved one professor – he decided at 12.45 p.m. that we would not have lunch until 2 p.m. 😉
What I mean by that is the following: If you have got used to indulging in your cravings for sweets with chocolate or other delicacies on the sofa in the evening, then your body will continue to want that – precisely because the body is still set on habit . If there is something to eat, then your body wants you to eat it too. Preferably without a lot of exercise, because that consumes valuable energy.
Cravings for sweets when your bastard wants to prevail
Tip 6 against cravings for sweets: keep a diary
If you are regularly plagued by cravings for sweets and you have no idea where it might be coming from, then keep a “cravings diary”. Write down when you are hungry or have an appetite for something, write down the corresponding situation and what you have eaten before or what you have not eaten. If you have it in black and white, then you may notice parallels between the situations and you can deduce from them what you can improve.
Tip 7 against cravings for sweets: Don’t forbid anything
Do you still know that? Especially when mom and dad have forbidden something, then it’s interesting. It is likely to be possible to maintain the ban for a certain period of time, but at some point it will no longer work and the bastard wins the fight. So don’t forbid anything completely.
If you know your calorie needs and have an overview of what and how much you are eating, then you can treat yourself to something sweet every now and then without feeling guilty. It is really not difficult if you want to calculate your calorie needs . If you don’t feel like doing the math yourself, you can simply use our calorie calculator here on the website.
Tip 8 against cravings for sweets: Enjoy in moderation and create alternatives
Consciously enjoy in moderation or even better: create alternatives. As already mentioned in tip 5, protein bars are a great way to fill that sweet tooth. Protein shakes can also relieve the desire for sweets here. Reduced-fat milk or soy milk are even low-calorie alternatives to full-fat milk. Remember that milk is actually only there to raise the little calves. So this must also be very substantial. So use the low-fat variant.
Frozen fruit is also delicious. My favorite is the summer fruit mix from Aldi. With 150g of frozen fruit you are there with only 75kcal. You can enjoy it for a long time, especially if you still eat the fruit frozen. Most people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables .
Tip 9 against cravings for sweets: Avoid stress.
It’s easy to say. Avoiding stress is not that easy. The fast pace, the pressure to perform, the perfectionism and the constant availability can put you under pressure all day and especially every day. For many, this is where the cravings for sweets come through in order to suppress these negative feelings, among other things with the release of dopamine. You become fat and unhappy as a result. The vicious circle takes its course. Do you think that is pulled by the hair and does not apply to you? The evaluation of your food cravings diary can show it.
Leave more time between your everyday appointments, plan conscious breaks, take a day with no appointments and just turn off your cell phone. And what is really important is that you spend time with friends and family who make you happy and with whom you can have fun. Do not guarantee yourself stressful situations in your free time in addition to your professional pressure – if it can be avoided. And if nothing really helps, write applications or break up with people who are not doing you good.
Tip 10 against cravings for sweets: Create a balance to stress
As described in tip number 9, you should plan stress-reducing measures. But stress cannot be avoided – you probably won’t manage to ban something like that from your life. Therefore, you should create a balance. If you come home from work in the evening broken and frustrated, you shouldn’t grab your chocolate bar and make yourself comfortable on the couch. Think about what makes you happy and “brings you down”. Go for walks, exercise, read a book, and meet up with friends. For many, relaxation exercises also work wonders.
Tip 11 against cravings for sweets: Break away from old habits.
Do you know it when you get cravings for sweets again after dinner and get your evening ration of sweets. Instead of running to the candy bunker when hungry, just go to the bathroom and clean the toilet. Do that for two weeks and I guarantee that you will lose your desire for sweets in the evening in a flash. Now this is a fun but effective example. Of course there are many other ways in which you can change habits in a targeted manner.
Tip 12 against cravings for sweets: Don’t buy any sweets in the first place.
What everyone of us knows: Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry. That has also happened to me quite often. The result is lots of goodies that end up in the garbage can afterwards because nobody should eat that many calories. If you go shopping when you are not hungry and do not even take the “bad” food with you, in the event of an emergency cravings you can only reach for healthy alternatives
Now you have a full view of why you might crave sweets. Is there something that you recognize yourself with?
And the most important tip at the end: Don’t blame yourself for a slip.
Almost everyone gets cravings for sweets at some point. I am also very disciplined. Sometimes I make myself a protein shake late at night or eat a protein bar – honestly sometimes even two. When I eat, I know that these bars sometimes break my calorie account, but I do it anyway. And I can tell you that it’s probably a mixture of some of these factors. Because I’m only human too. 🙂
“If you want something, you will find ways. If you don’t want something, you will find reasons. ”
Some of you will probably be wondering why I call a protein bar (which many belong to the nutritional supplements rather than candy) as a slip. In the past, a bar of chocolate was no problem at all for me. I ate sweets every day and I know exactly what regular cravings for sweets feel like – nobody needs to tell me anything. The road to my discipline has been a tough one, but when I can do it, anyone can do it too. But one thing should be said: it won’t be a walk.
If you want to conquer your weaker self and achieve your goals , then you can deal with him and accept him. If you do that and stay on the ball long enough, then you will make it too.
Have fun observing your eating habits,
PS: an hour workout is only 4% of your day.