Today I’d like to share with you a message that I’ve received from Cassie. As a dietitian and nutritionist, I often get asked “Why do I crave sugar after a meal?” and “How do I stop craving something sweet?”. So here’s the answer to both questions, plus my #1 strategy to break this habit.
I love reading your blog as I’m super keen to stop emotional and binge eating!
Can you help? I always crave something sweet after lunch and dinner. After I finish my main meals, I always get really strong sugar cravings and feel like I need to eat chocolate or lollies.
Why do I crave sugar after a meal and how do I break this habit?!
You’re not alone! So many people I speak to are craving sweets or sugar after main meals like lunch and dinner. Here’s why…
Why do I crave sugar after a meal?
Craving sweet food after meals is a habit – or learned association.
If you always have something sweet to eat after a meal, then your body will start to expect something sweet.
Your body will nag you until it gets a sweet fix because you’ve trained your body to think that a meal isn’t finished until you eat something sweet.
Sugar cravings can be especially strong after dinner and lunch. That’s because we typically eat dessert after lunch or dinner – but not breakfast. Your body isn’t in the habit of having a sweet treat after breakfast.
Why do I crave sugar after a meal, and not something savoury?
As the day goes on, your energy, motivation, and mood often drop.
When you eat sugar, your brain releases serotonin, “feel-good” chemicals into your brain. Sugary foods are also high in energy, giving you a boost in energy and mood (although the effects don’t last long)!
How to stop craving sugar and sweets after a meal
The good news is you can retrain your brain to stop craving something sweet after main meals.
Here is my favourite strategy to help reduce sugar and sweet cravings.
TRY: The one-hour trick
I don’t believe in depriving myself, so I use the one-hour trick all the time to help me overcome all sorts of cravings.
Here’s what to do:
Firstly, give yourself permission to have the treat.
Then, you simply have to wait an hour to eat it. If you still feel like the treat after the hour, you can have it! Most often, you’ll forget about the craving altogether.
Don’t set a timer or alarm clock. If you haven’t stopped thinking about it after the hour is up, and you still feel like eating it, then it’s yours to enjoy.
Why does the one-hour trick help when you’re craving sweets?
The one-hour trick works because it delays gratification until the craving can subside.
Most cravings only last for a short period of time. If you’re able to wait it out, it’ll go away.
Think of cravings like a wave – they come and they go. You can’t do much to stop a wave. But it helps to acknowledge it, watch it build and wait for it to pass.
They almost always pass!
It will take a few weeks, but if you can delay gratification until the craving can subside, you can break the habit.
Another option is to swap your treat food for a healthier, sweet food like fruit or yoghurt (if you need some inspo, check out my app Back to Basics, which is packed with healthy, easy recipes).
This is a good option in the short term because you’re opting for healthier options (I always support that) but realistically, it won’t break the habit in the long term.
Try the one-hour trick and see if it works for you!
Want more support?
I think you’ll get a lot of value from my free 5-day course to stop binge and emotional eating. I teach you all the tricks and tips that helped me to skip the cravings and feel in control around food. The course will be delivered via email straight into your inbox. ????