When Your Sweet Tooth Strikes, What Do You Reach For?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  248 comments   :  31,172 Views

Most days, right around 3 or 4 o'clock, they spring up out of nowhere. Others are surprised by them at night, usually in the few hours before bed. They come without warning and you can't really explain why they're there. Sugar cravings—they drive you nuts! Why must they appear, temping you at every turn, persuading you to give up on this whole "healthy lifestyle" thing?

I definitely have a strong preference for sweet foods. When they were handing out that gene that makes people think some desserts are "too sweet" or "too rich," I must have been sleeping (or off somewhere eating dessert), because no food is ever too sweet for me! Sometimes I give in, but other times, I find ways to squelch it without turning to sugary junk foods.

So what do I reach for when sugar cravings strike?

When I crave sweets, I usually want:
  • Twizzlers (only strawberry, no exceptions)

  • Ice cream (premium, really high-calorie stuff)

However, I try to indulge in real desserts and candy only in moderation—usually once every few weeks at the most, but sometimes it happens more or less frequently.

Instead, I usually eat one of these lesser evils a few times a week to tide myself over:

  • Dried fruit. I'm really into dried cherries, pineapple rings and mango slices, which are so sweet you'd think they're candy! OK, granted, some of these are made with added sugar, but at least the basis of your snack is still fruit. Whether plain or coupled with some almonds or lightly salted nuts, it usually hits the spot.

  • A protein bar. These don't make their way into my diet on a regular basis, but they're great for killing your sweet tooth and getting at least some nutrition (and not too many calories) without the sugar rush, thanks to the fat, fiber and protein that most contain (in addition to sugar and carbohydrates). My all-time favorite protein bar (in terms of taste and sweetness) is PowerBar's Triple Threat. This is delicious like a candy bar with a few vitamins, a decent amount of protein and some fiber thrown in.

  • Sweetened yogurt. I think most yogurts contain far too much sugar, which is why I'm putting this under the category of "lesser evils." However, it's far from an unhealthy food. Sweetened yogurt also provides protein and calcium, of course. I like to pair mine with some fresh strawberries or blueberries to stretch the yogurt but still get the sweet taste. I also like to make the world's simplest smoothie: 1 cup of vanilla yogurt with 1 cup of frozen fruit.

  • Dark chocolate chips. Yes, dark chocolate contains antioxidants, but I wouldn't consider it a health food. It still has lots of sugar and little else in the way of nutrition. However, at least those antioxidants are in there, right? Here's what I do from time to time. I buy a bag of expensive, organic dark chocolate chips made by Sunspire. These cost about $5 to $6 per bag, which I know is pricey. But that price ensures the quality I want—and the fact that I'll ration them instead of inhaling them. I'll portion out a small amount to eat for an after-dinner snack. Sometimes I eat them plain and other times I'll eat them with dried fruit (usually raisins or cherries) and almonds.

Ideally, what I eat most of the time when my sweet tooth strikes is… fruit. Unglamorous, right? I know you're thinking that you hear this advice all the time and that fruit just isn't going to cut it when you're really craving sweets. I beg to differ! If the SparkPeople kitchen is loaded with goodies (someone's gotta taste all those low-cal ice creams after all), I will eat the fruit I brought from home FIRST and then wait it out. If I'm still hungry and really want sweets afterward, then I'll have a portion-controlled treat, knowing that at least I got some fiber, vitamins and another serving of produce in my body before I indulged. And 90% of the time, the fruit alone hits the spot and I think to myself, "This is so sweet and delicious! I can't believe I thought I wanted ice cream!" Apples, oranges, bananas, and berries are my top picks for daily snacking. When they're in-season and fresh, their sweetness rivals any dessert out there—plus they're the healthiest thing you can snack on when it comes to sweets.

My sugar cravings come and go. I love sugar just as much as the next guy, but I find that the more sweetened foods I eat, the more sugary foods I crave—and that's not a good situation to be in if you want to eat healthy. So I make a conscious effort to eat sweet foods in moderation. If I notice that I'm having too many sweets over a few days, I'll resist those sugar cravings to no end and choose one of the "lesser evils" above or a natural sweet like fresh fruit, which puts my sweet tooth at bay without increasing my sugar cravings.

Now you tell us: When your sweet tooth strikes, what do YOU reach for?

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    Green & Blacks Espresso Chocolate!!! to die for. the serving is huge so if you have a couple of squares you feel totally satisfied and not guilty! LOVE IT!! - 11/4/2009   11:36:01 AM
  • 197
    I'm also a fan of the Skinny Cow Truffle bars, which I tend to indulge in about once a week as a dessert. The new Yoplait delights chocolate raspberry treats are yummy too with fresh raspberries. I usually only allow myself treats if my calorie allotment isn't maxed out. - 11/4/2009   9:11:51 AM
  • 196
    A fiber one chewy bar will usually settle me happily. I grew up with lots of Ice Cream, though so sometimes I need to deal with that. I replaced ice cream in my diet by blending frozen fruit with oj in my magic bullet for a delicious healthy sorbet. yum. - 11/4/2009   8:28:14 AM
    I usuauly have to remind myself to ask me if i am REALLY hungry or can I GO ON w/o another meal, but my weakness is dark chocolate...mmmmm....yeah! And if it's not a "holiday"i'll just stick an apple in my face or some other type of nutricious piece of fruit... - 11/3/2009   5:57:14 PM
    I usuauly have to remind myself to ask me if i am REALLY hungry or can I GO ON w/o another meal, but my weakness is dark chocolate...mmmmm....yeah! And if it's not a "holiday"i'll just stick an apple in my face or some other type of nutricious piece of fruit... - 11/3/2009   5:56:48 PM
    I usuauly have to remind myself to ask me if i am REALLY hungry or can I GO ON w/o another meal, but my weakness is dark chocolate...mmmmm....yeah! And if it's not a "holiday"i'll just stick an apple in my face or some other type of nutricious piece of fruit... - 11/3/2009   5:55:40 PM
  • 192
    I have been having craisins when I want something sweet. I also have some LA bars (from when I tried their plan) and I will have one of those if I am really craving chocolate. I also have some of their bars that have a white yogurt on the outside. Yum. - 11/3/2009   3:43:51 PM
  • 191
    i generally have a cup of tea and go get busy to take my mind off of it - 11/3/2009   3:03:35 PM
  • 190
    I've tried but I just don't like yogurt. Recently I discovered that 4 or 5 yogurt covered raisins really shut the sweets craving down and I like them. - 11/3/2009   2:57:02 PM
    I eat the Special K Protein Meal Bars. I know they have some corn syrup in them, but they are sooo good and they satisfy my chocholate craving. It's like eating a candy bar, but they only have 170 calories, 10 g of protein, and lots of other good stuff in them! - 11/3/2009   1:14:46 PM
  • 188
    I eat one square of super dark chocolate (70 - 85% cocoa). Lindt Excellence is pretty good for a drugstore candy.... - 11/3/2009   1:04:05 PM
    I'm not big on sweets--I have other pitfalls--but when I crave something sweet, it's usually part of a dark chocolate truffle bar from Trader Joe's. - 11/3/2009   12:58:57 PM
  • 186
    I have a couple of "go to" snacks. Blue Diamond Almonds (honey or vanilla) or Wonder raisin bread... for a variation on the raisin bread, sometimes I toast it and spread on a thin layer of peanut butter while it is still warm so the peanut butter gets melty and sometimes I sprinkle on a little cinnamon. I also like most of the Yoplait light fat-free yogurts. - 11/3/2009   12:43:49 PM
  • 185
    For that very rare sweet craving, I will eat 2 tbsp of craisins--they are both sweet and tart. Even rarer is the chocolate craving--and I have a rule for that: Sees California Brittle, or nothing. Usually, it's nothing. I've tried substitutes and they just don't do the trick. - 11/3/2009   12:07:07 PM
  • 184
    I have found when I am really craving something sweet I will make low cal jello and top that off with a tbsp of low cal whip cream..that is usually enough to satisfy my sweet craving. I honestly am not a big sweet eater so I don't have to worry too much about that. My biggest crutch is potato chips, I am being good tho I have not had one in almost 3 months now. I will make popcorn instead if watching movies or something. I did read tho another great sweet treat is low fat pudding mixed with low cal whip cream, I bet it would be good. In fact I am going shopping today and think I may pick some up. - 11/3/2009   11:59:08 AM
    I always leave options so I don't go crazy.. plus I have a huge sweet tooth. Things I like are sugar free jello puddings, greek yogurt with berries & stevia, sugar free fudge bars, frozen yogurt, a square or two of 70% dark chocolate, and my newest favorite dessert called Fudge Babies.. I found them on this blog and they are amazing!! So chocolaty with no added sugar!!! http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/20
    / - 11/3/2009   10:17:33 AM
    Yeah for Twizzlers and chocolate covered almonds. Snack size twisslers have few calories and really satisfy my sweet cravings. - 11/3/2009   8:10:32 AM
    I love the sugar free popcicles, and I try to leave any other sweets out of the house so that I don't crave them by knowing they are there. - 11/3/2009   4:48:03 AM
  • 180
    I have been eating oranges and apples when I crave something sweet but tonight I broke down and sliced a banana and but a tablespoon of Hersheys Special Dark choc. syrup over it. It was my banana split without the Ice cream. It satisfied my craving without too many calories. - 11/2/2009   11:00:13 PM
    I like nonfat plain yogurt, mixed with a a tsp to a tbls of unsweetened baking cocoa and a couple of splendas or stevia packets. Kind of like dark chocolate pudding. - 11/2/2009   9:33:10 PM
  • 178
    On occasion I have dark chocolate but, mostly when the craving hits, I grab fruit (I love green seedless grapes!). - 11/2/2009   9:07:12 PM
  • 177
    I like my PB Nanna Poppers. They are simple to make, and five of them fill me up. - 11/2/2009   8:38:30 PM
  • 176
    dark chocolate, I also have these bite size cheesecake bites in the freezer and I will have one or two of those frozen and it works for me. I like watermelon when it's in season for my sweet tooth - 11/2/2009   6:47:11 PM
  • 175
    I have two sweet tooth remedies. The first is for thost quick ones at work where I just need SOMETHING to help me avoid the lure of the free candy jar; I eat a dark chocolate covered altoid. Two pieces are FULL of flavor and only 15 calories. The chocolate at the beginning satisfies my chocolate craving, and the mint at the end helps keep me from wanting to eat anything else.

    My other sweet treat is dessert at home - usually when my BF has ice cream. I keep a few peeled bananas in my freezer and toss them in my magic bullet (or any blender) with a little bit of cinnamon. It blends up nice and smooth and the consistency is just like ice cream. I couldn't believe how delicious it was the first time I had it. If I'm REALLY feeling like a splurge, I put some light whipped topping and a tiny bit of chocolate sauce on it. All fairly low calorie - but I really feel like I'm getting a treat! - 11/2/2009   3:33:53 PM
  • 174
    I'll admit I didn't read every post but I wll share my crutch. I love frozen strawberries defrosted but still a little cold with lowfat cottage cheese. It is sweet and the cottage cheese helps me believe, in another dimension, it is ice cream.

    I also love weight watchers fudge bars. Only 100 calories and yummy - 9/29/2009   5:53:56 PM
    Currently I've been satisfying my sweet tooth with Skinny Cow, a piece of fruit, or a bit of jam on a Wassa cracker - depending on if I want creamy, crunchy, or just plain sweet and juicy. - 8/29/2009   3:45:52 PM
  • 172
    Any fruits or small dark chocolate chips! - 8/25/2009   4:18:46 PM
  • 171
    I definitely have a sweet tooth; it runs in the family. Hmmm, maybe that's why diabetes runs in the family too. Anyway, I usually crave something sweet late in the afternoon at work or after dinner. I know the late afternoon is an energy lull, and I usually tide myself over with a SOYJOY bar if I can't ignore it. After dinner is tougher. I feel entitled to desert for being a good girl and eating my dinner. I try to eat more fruit or berries. I love strawberries and raspberries. I will occasionally indulge in chocolate or ice cream, but ice cream is really dangerous because I can eat half the container in one sitting! - 8/10/2009   6:34:37 PM
  • 170
    Ice Cream... the good stuff, Häagen-Dazs - vanilla bar covered in cholocate and almonds. I recently found the Breyers Berry Swirls Pure Fruit bars. They're only 40 calories, no fat and 9 grams of sugar... a good alternative. - 7/30/2009   7:08:58 PM
  • 169
    I have an awful sweet tooth, especially in the summer since I crave ice-cream. However, I am able to contain my sweet tooth by eating frozen fruit smoothies. - 7/24/2009   5:35:46 PM
  • REBIRTH7209
    Right after dinner! My sweet tooth just wakes up on cue. Usually about 15 minutes after I eat. I once loved eating a honey bun but I got into the habit of actually eating the tons of yogurt my mom buys (not all at once of course lol) Good stuff. Or fresh blueberries? Oh joy! - 7/23/2009   8:18:30 PM
  • PHROSE22
    Dried strawberries! I just love them and can't believe that they're actually made of fruit. They're sweet and chewy and they do satisfy my sweet tooth! - 7/17/2009   5:59:57 AM
  • 166
    Hostess 3 pack mini cakes for 100 calories....I actually enjoy them more than any of the heavy, fatty treats I used to crave. Once I started treating myself to one pack of these per day, my junk food cravings stopped. Incredible!

    I'm also a big fan of apple and peanut butter - 7/15/2009   6:08:28 PM
  • 165
    I've made some SP sweets recipes that I keep in the freezer for those "sweet tooth" days. However, I had a mango whole fruit bar on Sunday at church and I've been checking in different stores to find them. I've found other whole fruit bars that are good substitutes, but not exactly the same. For now, whole fruit bars (70 -100 calories depending on the brand) are my new sweet treat. - 7/13/2009   10:23:05 PM
    its summer and lots of fresh melons and berries grapes are great frozen - 7/13/2009   7:56:32 PM
  • 163
    CHOCOLATE, CHOCOLATE, oh & MORE CHOCOLATE! - 7/13/2009   7:14:16 PM
  • JCH955
    Yummmm (she says while drooling just slightly!)...to really get more bang for your chocolate buck, try Adora dark chocolate disks. They're not only delicious but they're a calcium supplement as well! I've gotten them online but recently found them at Whole Foods - with the other calcium supplements!!! - 7/13/2009   3:21:47 PM
  • 161
    Skinny Cow Chocolate Truffle Bars OMG!! Solves any craving and only 100 calories but in NJ the secret is out and they go fast so if you see them you have to stock up!! - 7/13/2009   9:02:44 AM
  • 160
    Skinny Cow minis, they only have 50 calories each. YUMMY!!! - 7/13/2009   9:01:07 AM
  • 159
    Ah, well! I have a "salt-and-crunch tooth" rather than a sweet tooth - wish I could come up with some good healthy substitutes for the potato chips. :) I usually wind up eating Indian snacks made with chickpea flour and well-spiced - these are also fried, but at least they have plenty of protein and fiber as well, and I'm able to stop at ONE helping, unlike with chips, where I usually finish up the bag!
    - 7/13/2009   8:44:42 AM
  • 158
    I'm not a big chocolate fan, so when I get the craving I usually go for sugar-free pudding. Jello just came out with a line of "dessert" sugar-free puddings that are only 60 calories. I love the Dulce De Leche Sugar Free Pudding. I add 2 tbsp of Light whipped cream for 15 calories and the snack is only 75 calories!! But other times, I just go for strawberries, grapes, pineapples, apples or mangos! I love a real variety of fruit. - 7/12/2009   10:27:01 PM
  • 157
    I'm diabetic so I have to watch my carb intake carefully. If I can afford the carbs at the time of a "sweet tooth attack", I'll go for fruit for sure - especially fresh sweet cherries right now as they are in perfect season! I also just love sugar free popsicles and never feel guilty having a second one, either, at 10 calories/4 carbs each! My favorites are pineapple and grape. - 7/12/2009   9:15:09 PM
  • 156
    Believe it or not, I not only love fruit, it is my preferred sweet. Nothing beats munching on frozen blueberries. - 7/12/2009   6:16:53 PM
    I have a stash of skinny cow in my freezer for the really bad moments but I also like to have apples w/ a side of vanilla yogurt.. - 7/12/2009   11:24:50 AM
    I like to have a McDonalds cone. They are only 150 calories and they really help me with my sweet tooth craving. - 7/12/2009   10:20:38 AM
  • 153
    really good chocolate chips do both the sweet and chocolate thing for me....and it takes time to melt each chocolatey bit in my mouth...... - 7/12/2009   8:19:46 AM
  • 152
    You hit the nail on the head. I always say, "I could live off ice cream if I had to" and Twizzlers would be the treat. But your right we have to do it in moderation and I do. I don't deprive myself just don't do it frequently then in small portions. thanks for the tips. - 7/11/2009   9:05:34 PM
  • 151
    I have to agree with most everyone else and say dark chocolate but I try not over indulge! - 7/11/2009   7:38:54 PM
  • 150
    Sugar cravings hit me late, when I stay up late. I can avoid them if I just go to bed earlier, but that is so hard sometimes. I don't know exactly what it is, but when that sugar craving hits there is something immediately psychologically satisfying about cramming some Twizzlers or ice cream in your mouth.

    Like the author of the original posting, I usually eat apples and bananas, which honestly usually does the trick. Sometimes, if I have a few extra calories to spare at the end of the day, I add a little natural peanut butter and honey. That ALWAYS works. - 7/11/2009   3:15:36 PM
  • MUMZI48
    For Lent one year, I gave up chocolate of any kind. 6 long weeks of no chocolate. Thought I would go crazy. But, oh the different flavors I found during this time. Don't know tho, that I will give up chocolate that long again. Me - 7/11/2009   1:39:14 PM

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