There are several ways you can handle a sugar craving! But first, it's important to identify why you're craving sweets. Is it habit, texture, or hunger?
Your body knows when you're hungry before you feel hungry, and your body knows that sugar gives you near-immediate energy, making it a perfect solution to the body’s energy loss problem. Of course, it is not the perfect solution for your figure (unless you're refueling before or during a hard workout), but then again, your taste buds don’t have to worry about that. (2)
“The body knows that glucose is the best hit for energy, so we tend to crave it when we’re hungry.”
Kristin Koskinen, RDN
If you live a rather sedentary life, chances are you don’t need the extra energy that’s packed into a candy bar. That spike in glucose, or sugars in your body, won’t help you fend off wild animals or train for peak efficiency.
Your body does need sugar to survive and perform at its best, but there is often too much sugar and unnecessary junk products in popular sweet treats. This leads to our bodies storing the excess energy for later – just in case we need to fend off, ahem, a bear – and this turns into the need to visit the gym, later.
You may also be used to eating sugar out of habit. The body craves what it is used to, and if that something is sugar, of course, you are going to crave sugar! Likewise, there is something inherently comforting about the act of eating, as simple as it is. As people, we take comfort in this simple pleasure, providing nutrition to our bodies and sharing an experience with the people around us.
No one wants to feel guilty about eating something pleasurable, and you certainly shouldn’t feel guilty about sharing a snack with a friend or enjoying time to yourself with a good book and a low sugar snack.
A healthy relationship with your snacks is the best gift you can give yourself, and it will help improve the quality of your experiences around snack time as well.
Then, sometimes, it is all about texture. Texture is the real spice of life, changing something from simply good to absolutely delightful. Often, when you are craving a snack, you are craving the texture that comes with this snack, not just the sweetness.
Think about it: if you are craving a delicious candy bar, you’re not just craving sugar, otherwise, you could go to the kitchen and get a spoonful of sugar and be completely satisfied with your ‘snack’. You also want the texture that comes with the candy bar, the snap that comes with each bite, or the crunch of nougat mixed in with the smooth candy.
Identifying which craving you have for sweetness is key to figuring out what you want out of a snack. If you’re hungry, push aside the cravings for something sweet and have a small, healthy meal instead.
If you are in the mood to snack for the sake of snacking, you have a wide range of healthy snacks to choose from. Self-control does not start in the pantry saying you won’t eat the potato chips you bought; self-control starts at the grocery store, purchasing the package of nuts instead of the package of oily chips.
The textured aspect of snacking is a different beast. Luckily, there is a wide range of healthy snacks that mimic our favorite junk foods and candies. If you have identified that you are in the mood for a particular texture, then you have already won half the battle.
The other half of the battle is finding an alternative texture. For example, if you are craving nougat in a delicious chocolatey glaze, try substituting it with unflavored oatmeal with a little bit of granola and cocoa powder mixed in.