Having sweet cravings may be the result of having excessively low blood sugar, i.e. you are hungry, or you are eating too little. You’ll be able to manage your sweet cravings better if you always feel full. Check your calorie intake and be mindful of the protein content of every meal you eat. (Don’t skip carbohydrates, either!)
People who start to exercise regularly and change their diet to more nutritious food often try to find loopholes and occasions where they can eat in a slightly less strictly controlled manner – these are usually known as ‘cheat days’ or ‘eating days’. You can read what I think about that below.
My preference is for the idea of the ‘90/10 rule’, where you eat nutritiously 90 per cent of the time and a bit less nutritiously for the remaining 10 per cent. Usually, this 10 per cent is about a more relaxed attitude to food when we are abroad, at a work conference, at a children’s party, at a restaurant, out on a dinner date, etc. These are often situations where we can’t control the food that is served, and it is polite to eat what is on offer. But there are also occasions where you want to eat what you like, and that’s totally fine, provided you don’t let there be too many of those occasions! HOW MUCH you eat on those occasions is also important. We are definitely not talking about your going completely haywire.
Examples: Let’s say we are talking about a week consisting of 35–42 meals (if you eat 5 or 6 meals a day). Three of these may be meals where you eat what you like/where you can’t control the food, such as having dinner out. Or one Saturday from the afternoon till the evening. But not spending Friday to Sunday eating food that is not nutritious, which can easily happen at the weekend – so keep an eye on your special occasions!
Keep the following in mind (because what can easily happen is that the 10 per cent increases):
- Don’t spread these occasions/meals out over the week – try to keep them to one and the same day. So: if you are going out on a dinner date on the Saturday, don’t eat sweets on the Sunday.
- You DON’T NEED to ‘use up’ the 10 per cent, or all three meals – one such meal a week may be enough. Trust me – there will be times when you won’t KNOW exactly what your food contains, and then the calories will mount up more than you’re able to exercise any control over.
- Have these meals in the evening and not early in the day – then you won’t keep running to the fridge for the rest of the day. Many of us have difficulty controlling our intake as soon as the opportunity arises. Get smarter – know your own pitfalls and try to avoid them!
- If you’re going out to a restaurant to eat: pack as many proteins as possible into your main course – that way you won’t have as much of a sweet craving afterwards. If you do crave dessert nonetheless, ideally share it with your partner. You could even order a half portion at the restaurant. Or choose not to eat all of it!
- Exercise control over the portions. Look at it like this: proteins should equal the size of the palm of your hand and carbohydrates should only be the size of your fist.
- Try not to give in to the temptation of satisfying your sweet craving with something sweet, but if you really can’t resist – start by drinking a glass of water. If that doesn’t work, you could drink a cup of unsweetened tea with a sweet floral flavour. A good way of calming your sweet cravings is to have a chocolate drink made with cocoa and your choice of milk and sweetener. Cocoa is excellent at reducing sweet cravings!
- Choose your junk food: alcohol or dessert? Crisps or pudding? Fatty sauce or dessert? The point being … definitely not both!