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Struggling with sugar cravings?

When I ask my clients what they think is the biggest thing they need to change in their diet, I often get the answer, “The sweets.” “If I could eliminate my sugar cravings and leave out all the sweets, I’d lose weight. Because sweets shouldn’t be part of my diet, right?”

The flip side to sugar strikes

For some crazy reason, this easy-sounding advice doesn’t work. The advice “don’t eat sweets (ever)” in our heads has the opposite effect – following this guideline, we tend to want sweets more than ever!

I often enlighten students on this subject in class with the following example: “Hi, I’m Marika, and I’m a nutritionist. In my lectures, there is a rule that you may not drink water.” Silence descends in the room, and people look confused. And what do you know, people start feeling thirsty! I tell them this was just an experiment for them to see how it feels. When something becomes forbidden, you start wanting it more, even though you felt fine a second ago. The same goes for people who think along the lines of “I shouldn’t.”

How to conquer your sugar cravings?

If a complete ban on sweets doesn’t work, will anything? Clients often ask how they can get rid of their sugar cravings.

We can use the metaphor of a wave to describe a craving. Imagine sitting on a beach, and a wave suddenly hits you. Just like the tide will wash away back to the sea, also cravings will pass. It takes patience and waiting. Of course, waiting is quite uncomfortable, so you should think of something else to do to pass the time, perhaps call a friend.

Just like the tide will wash away back to the sea, also cravings will pass.

Adjust your surroundings to get rid of sugar cravings

The most prominent cravings trigger is hunger. You want to avoid subjecting yourself to situations where sugar cravings are awoken. Hunger can result from long breaks between meals and bad eating habits (I’ve written about these before). You can also consider what you can find in your own home. Are there sweets “just in case of guest”? And is it a sustainable idea to get the bigger bag of candy because the price per amount is lower, or to get three chocolate bars for the price of two?

We’ve written about the four reasons for sugar cravings in our book, and the topic of hunger has a chapter of its own.

Sweets are a great pleasure

Of course, you need to indulge in sweets every once in a while! When you indulge, choose something you genuinely like: chocolates or sausages. Eat without haste and enjoy yourself without feeling guilty. When having sweets is a conscious choice, and you’ve considered it beforehand, you don’t have to feel bad afterward. You mostly regret situations that you drift into.

When you indulge, choose something you genuinely like: chocolates or sausages.

My Plate Coach and sweets

So how does the My Plate Coach app relate to sweets? Well, you don’t get any hearts from them. Looking at the big picture, you notice that a few red hearts don’t make that big difference.

It’s the big picture and the good routines that matter.

Lovely meal times,

Marika Venäläinen

Authorized Nutritionist
See How You Eat Apps


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