When I surveyed my audience recently, one of the biggest eating struggles (especially right now during the quarantine!) experienced is more frequent sugar cravings. First, I want to mention it is totally NORMAL to crave sweets when you’re feeling emotional. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or lack willpower. When it comes to weight loss and feeling satisfied, it is actually preferable to indulge and give in to these cravings when they hit rather than always trying to suppress them. This is because if we ignore them continuously, one day that will backfire and we will overindulge. The more we avoid a particular food or “treat” we are craving, the more we think about it and want it.
Common Reasons You May be Craving Sweets
- You’re experiencing a high stress level. When you are under stress, your hunger hormone ghrelin goes up. This increases your desire for comfort foods like sweets, chocolate, and carbs. Your insulin and cortisol levels also rise in response to stress which can cause your bodyto store more fat and cause weight gain. Finding healthier ways to manage your stress even during a temporary situation like a quarantine will help you build healthy habits for the long term.
- You’re not eating enough throughout the day. If you’re not eating consistent meals, or your meals are not balanced, you will likely crave sweets more often. This is your body’s natural response calling out to you – it’s trying to tell you something! Eating regularly and consuming balanced meals containing protein, whole grains, and healthy fats will keep your energy and insulin levels stable and reduce sweets cravings.
- They just plain taste good and are pleasurable! Let’s be honest for a second. Sweets taste amazing! Sometimes you just want to eat something because you know it’s there and it tastes good. If you find this happening to you often, you can better manage this by decreasing the amount of sweets you keep in your house, and putting them in places where they’re harder to find.
If you find yourself wanting a treat and can’t stop thinking about it, try some of these healthier ideas that are 100 calories or less. Keep in mind that when it comes to sweet treats, portions are everything! These treats are seriously satisfying so a little goes a long way!
10 Healthier Sweet Treats to Enjoy
- Dark Chocolate Bark: Melt dark chocolate and spread it on parchment paper. Sprinkle in healthy ingredients like tart cherries or sunflower seeds. Refrigerate for at least 5 minutes until set and then break into small pieces. Serving size ~2oz or small handful.
- Ricotta or Cottage Cheese with Berries: Add ¼ cup berries to ¼ cup ricotta or cottage cheese. This treat is high in fiber and contains protein so it will satisfy you quickly before you have the chance to overdo it. And if you’re craving something creamy, this will definitely do the trick!
- Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds: This is my absolute favorite healthy treat and I indulge in it at least a few times a week. Serving size is about 4-5 almonds.
- Peanut Butter Energy Bites: These are my own creation and I’ve made them what feels like a million times. They are jam-packed with nutrition and satisfy any sweet craving. Pro-tip: substitute chocolate chips for cacao nibs which are much lower in sugar and higher in antioxidant content. Serving size is 2 balls.
- Chocolate Hummus: Yes, that’s a thing! You can have by itself or dip apple or carrot slices. Serving size is 2 tbsp.
- Plain Rice Cakes with Peanut or Almond Butter: The crunch of the rice cake plus the sweetness of the nut butter creates a satisfying snack! Serving size is 1 large rice cake or 2 small rice cakes topped with 1 tbsp nut butter.
- Yogurt with Powdered Peanut Butter: Mix a reduced calorie, no added sugar vanilla yogurt like Oikos Triple Zero with powdered Peanut Butter (PB2). It tastes just like frozen yogurt! Serving size is 1 single-serve yogurt with 1 tbsp PB2.
- Chia Pudding: If you love chia seeds, chances are you’ll love chia pudding! To make, simply stir 2 tbsp chia for every ½ cup of milk. You can use any type of milk, but my favorite is unsweetened vanilla almond milk! You can add a touch of honey or vanilla extract, or unsweetened and top with a handful of berries. Chia seeds are packed with protein, fiber, and healthy omega-3 fats.
- Frozen Grapes: Freeze grapes overnight and enjoy a handful for a long-lasting sweet treat. Plus, grapes are rich in antioxidants and polyphenols (similar to those contained in wine) that improve your immune system and protect your heart.
- “Nice” Cream: If you’re an ice cream lover, this dessert is surprisingly satisfying and will curb your craving. Add frozen bananas, peanut butter, and a splash of milk to a blender. Mix until it has a creamy ice cream consistency. Serving size is ½ cup. Enjoy!
I hope this helps to give you more ideas on what to eat when you’re wanting a sweet treat. An important component of weight loss and creating healthy eating habits is allowing yourself to enjoy sweets in moderation. However, if it is in a way that feels out of control to you, exceeds your calorie goals or causes you to feel guilty or shameful afterward, that is going to sabotage your efforts and backfire.
The key is to create a healthy, low stress environment in your home and in your kitchen. If you need help with how to get your pantry in order so it supports you in your weight goals, let’s get on a call! Contact me to see how I can help you reach your goals easier and faster than doing it on your own.