Insatiable Hunger: Tips For Sweet Cravings

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When you have cravings, you have little control over what you eat, and the usual way this pans out is that we overload on calories. Find out why and how you can get these sweet cravings under control.

Table of contents

Blood sugar rollercoaster

Everyone knows the feeling. It usually comes in the evening and revolves around the very thing that you know is not good for you in the long term - sweets! Your thoughts suddenly revolve around chocolate bars or jelly babies and the craving becomes overwhelming. "Just one piece..." whispers the inner voice. But then it's the whole packet - and later in bed, you're plagued by a guilty conscience!

The reason for this is usually a constant rise and fall in blood sugar levels: the hormone insulin is released so that the carbohydrates eaten can be transported into the cells and converted into energy. Insulin is therefore the "key" to unlocking the cells and letting the carbohydrates in. Once this has happened, the blood sugar drops again in a relaxed manner. So far, so normal.

However, if there is a lot of sugar in the blood, insulin production quickly overshoots the mark as an alarm reaction - and the glucose level in the blood then falls below the normal target, meaning hypoglycemia develops. This in turn triggers an alarm in the brain because it needs sugar as fuel. It sends the message: "Quick energy now!" And this instruction is so powerful that any good intentions are a thing of the past - we reach for sugar and find it hard to stop.

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But our cravings can have even more reasons:

  • Permanent diet: A calorie deficit that is too large throughout the day, which the body makes up for in the evening.
  • Rhythm: Permanently irregular eating patterns that have thrown the body out of sync.
  • Psychological eating: We are actually hungry for something completely different and compensate with sweets.
  • Addiction: Sugar is addictive because it ensures that happiness hormones are released in the short term. The consumption of certain foods (a percentage combination of sugar and fat) stimulates the same regions of the brain as drug consumption.
  • Habits: We snack whenever we sit in front of the TV / reward ourselves for the day/drink a glass of wine ...
  • Stress & lack of sleep: The body tells us when we are on alert. This hormone cocktail causes us to "have to" consume quick energy (sugar) against the impending enemy in order to have it immediately available in case of doubt. Unfortunately, the real enemy these days is ourselves, or rather, our daily routine.

So what should you do when you have an irrepressible craving for sweets? A quick sugar fix may satisfy the craving in the short term, but it also gives the vicious circle momentum for the next round. Chasing lots of glucose through your veins is not only bad for your figure, but also for your health.

Quick SOS strategies

Once the sugar monster has arrived, it is seemingly invincible. Quick strategies are needed to avoid inhaling the whole chocolate cake.

  • Drink plenty of water: Sometimes we confuse our body's thirst signals with (hot) hunger.
  • Drink tea: Green tea and peppermint tea help best. Alternatively, try a tea that is naturally a little sweet, e.g. tea with licorice.
  • Go for bitter substances: Not only do bitter substances help our bodies to process food better, they also help us to eat less: Bitters dock onto the intestinal cells that produce a hormone called GLP-1. This endogenous hormone triggers a feeling of satiety in the brain. A few drops in the stomach can help.
  • Chew gum: Chewing and salivating gives the body something to do, so we don't resort to other overindulgent behaviors. In addition, chewing releases leptin (satiety hormone).
  • Choose "healthy" options: E.g. warm (plant) milk with real cocoa powder (and a little honey if necessary). Or mash a frozen banana with some (oat) milk and add cocoa nibs.
  • Brush your teeth: Once these are brushed, you'll think twice about whether you're really still snacking.
  • If you "lose" the battle, at least enjoy yourself and don't be mad at yourself!

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New strategies for long-term success

Of course it's great to have a few tricks to combat the acute sweet tooth, but - as is so often the case in life - it makes more sense to think strategically and not let the sugar monster take you by surprise in the first place. That way, you can decide for yourself in the long term when to indulge in chocolate and when to give it up.

  • Eat regularly and enough: If you eat too little, you run the risk of getting the calories later in an unhealthier form. So don't be afraid of the evening meal - even with healthy carbohydrates - especially if the alternative is late-night snacking in the fridge.
  • Sufficient protein: Protein fills you up for a long time and stops any cravings, as a protein-rich diet keeps your blood sugar stable.
  • Get enough sleep: If you are sleep-deprived, weak and tired, your body will experience a hormonal imbalance (or this will be exacerbated). A lack of sleep causes the body to release the hormone ghrelin, which makes you feel like you're never getting enough. If you are already suffering from sleep disorders, make sure you take breaks to relax and find inner peace.
  • Shopping Queen: Simply stop buying sweets. Because if they are there, they will be eaten. Going out again in the evening and shopping is much more time-consuming than scurrying to the kitchen cupboard.
  • Mindfulness & self-awareness: Reflect on when/where/why cravings surprise you. There are usually patterns behind it: what is your mood like? What does the chocolate bar give you? Do you find it difficult to say "no" to the cake? Practice new behavior and give yourself more of what you really need.

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