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

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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SISSYFEB48 3/3/2021
Thank you. Report
GEORGE815 1/27/2021
Thanks Report
SNUZYQ2 1/3/2021
I agree with this article and I love fruit, which is my go-to treat. Thanks for a great article! Report
CHERYLHURT 12/29/2020
Great Report
BONNIE1552 10/17/2020
If I allow myself one treat a day I can stay in calorie range and lose weight without feeling deprived. It gives me a sense of control because I choose the treat. Report
NIMUAE 9/3/2020
I love the idea of sweets. My memories of them are Epic, however, I am a savory person. Most afternoons I crave something salty and crunchy. When I do crave sweets, they are pretty specific. Thank goodness for Mars coming out with the tiny bits of chocolate favorites. Midnight Milkyway is a favorite Report
TERMITEMOM 8/14/2020
2-3 dried apricots Report
EMGERBER 5/11/2020
You make managing craving sound so easy and in a way it is either eat of don't eat but it is not just that easy, my craving are for very specific items. Report
Good need-to-know information. I crave salty snacks not sweets! Report
thank you Report
Dates! They taste like brown sugar to me. Report
I'm not big on sweets but when the cravings hit I try to go with fresh fruit or a small piece of chocolate. I never sent my cravings because that is what causes me to binge eat. If I get even a small taste I'm usually good to go. I drink water or take a walk to try and curb any excess cravings. Report
I CAN'T have a "moderate" amount of sweets; they're just too triggering (especially anything with chocolate) and I am too undisciplined. I do eat fruit with every meal, and try to have some as an after-dinner dessert/snack. When the cravings hit, I just try my best to ignore them. Most of the time I succeed; sometimes I don't. The thing is, when I do give in, I feel like crap afterwards since my body is no longer accustomed to sugar. I'm hoping that,eventually, the knowledge of how I will feel physically after I indulge will deter me from starting. Report
When my sweet tooth comes calling if I have a moderate amount of chocolate it is satisfied. Report
Grapes are a great snack as you get to feel the repetitive picking up of them like less healthy foods. Report
I am eating one dark chocolate bar with 150 calories every day. I have not had cravings and have lost weight. Report
Try to plan ahead what I could eat to the best of my ability Report
thanks Report
Buttercream Fat Bombs for me. Quick and easy to make, slight crunch from the freezer, sugar free with all the taste you could want, dipped in chocolate for the days I want that as well. Change each batch depending on extracts you have on hand. They are scrumptious. Here's the link for any interested, they are Keto btw :) https:// www.gnom-gnom.com/keto-buttercream-
/ Report
I know for sure I have a sugar addiction. I've done the SP sugar busters challenge a few times. I still end up failing Report
interesting article Report
Sweets can be good, but not always my first choice thankfully. Report
I hate dark chocolate its so bitter to me, nasty! All I want is to have milk chocolate covered almonds again and I can't find them anywhere anymore I'm so sad. 😭 such a nice treat on ocasion and now gone. @#!$% Report
Peaches and strawberries really help kill a sweet craving, still craving cands and stuff? Eat more strawberries, melons and stuff they are so low calorie its nuts. I like the chocolate chip clif bars very tasty and as I was on an unwanted shopping trip it helped me keep my sanity. Walmart selks mini cakes and such fir 50c each and if you ignore the pies the cals are 250 for a mini chocolate cake so that won't hurt to have one now and then to keep a binge away. Report
Great article.....when I crave sweets I try to take a handful of chocolate chips as that is usually the only thing in our house. Report
good points Report
amazing! thanks Report
I like a small amount of more expensive milk chocolate at a 100 calorie serving. I buy it on sale after many holidays and freeze it in the warmer weather. I have also found what is called a gourmet rich tasting ice cream that is not diet,taste very good,comes on sale often at 100 calories per 1/2 C in Canada, I prefer it. Report
me i go for fruit or dark chocolate nuggets or hershey/dove bites Report
Utz mini choc. pretzels for 2P, 1/2 cup frozen yogurt in a small waffle cone 3P, or weight watcher candy (has points on the label) 1P for the one I eat - talk about YUM Report
My sweet tooth is often happy with berries or pineapple or sugar snap peas (now THOSE are candy), but I also eat a lot of yogurt (sweetened or with fruit or with granola or all of the above) and homemade cookies. I don't apologize for them, I just eat them in moderation. Report
I have 3 go to sweet tooth fixes. Either a teaspoon of almond butter with a touch of honey, or 72% cacao chocolate piece (when it has to be chocolate). And my chewy yummy is a couple of prunes. I know- crazy, but they are super sweet and chewy and fix the sweet tooth Report
I eat a date or an apple sometimes both if I have enough calories.
My sweettooth kicks in at random times during the day. I used to reach for chocolate, but now I mostly eat three or four prunes. I also have learned that sometimes a glass of water will do the trick as I am simply a little dehydrated. Report
i keep 100 calories in the house and use them . like the idea of cool whip with coco powder. think i might try that .thanks Report
One tub of fat free Cool Whip with some cocoa powder mixed in it, tastes like mousse, doesn't add up on the scale the next morning though. Took some doing to finally come up with this to keep a binge away. Report
2 or 3 prunes, a piece of dark chocolate (think Hershey's miniature, or two dark chocolate kisses, and a cup of milk. Filling, mostly healthy and satisfies that sweet tooth. This is about a 200 calorie snack. If I can afford it and need the fat for the day, add 1/2 oz. of walnuts for about a 300 calorie snack. Awesome!!!! Report
Greek yogurt and honey, Fage has it already packaged for me and its a delight. I get the 0% fat yogurt so its not so sinful! Report
Mmmm. low fat vanilla yogurt over bananas(or any fruit) with a little sugarfree hot fudge topping! So yummy, my husband adds granola. It is really like a sundae if you put it in the freezer for a bit. My kids eat it and never are concerned that it is not ice cream. Report
Well- Im a fan of cheese. I like 1-2 oz. of raw grassfed cheddar. although its contradictory to a sugar craving- it changes the craving and satitifies me. If I need something sweet sweet and cheese or a hard boiled egg doesnt cut it- I use 2 Tbs heavy cream over berries and sweeten with somersweet or truvia and a splash of vanilla or coconut milk. Report
This is a really good blog. Thanks for the alternative selections you mentioned to the high fat./sugar treats. I usually reach for the premium ice cream myself. I recently purchased a vita mix machine and now I make some rocking smoothies, (just like the kind you buy out in town). Yummo! Report
I definitely go to the grapes and non-fat yogurt first. And like many of you, I LOVE dark chocolate . . although I try not to buy it often because I will eat too much of it.
DH loves his ice cream at night...I just can't eat a "standard" portion of 1/2 cup so I don't eat it AT ALL! I have a carton of non-fat yogurt and add a serving of Kashi Honey Oat cereal to it...I get the "sweet and crunchy" that I'm after for few calories! Report
Chocolate ice cream every evening. For some reason, I get a chocolate or sugar craving after every meal. During the day at work, I reach for the gum. If there are cookies or muffins around I will eat them in the morning. I do not purchase candy and cookies very often because I would devour them in one or two settings. Report
I eat 3 squares of Lindt 85% cocoa very dark chocolate almost every day, it's one of my snacks for the day that I plan for. Also have one Skinny Cow Fudge bar, 100 calories, and that is for my 7 pm snack time. Then I have a serving of fruit, like no sugar added applesauce, or mandarin oranges from a can, rinsed first and drained. This keeps me sane and able to eat "cleanly" for weeks at a time. And I save up for a real splurge if there is some big holiday or birthday or anniversary. Never sit there and NOT eat the cake or dessert while everyone around you is enjoying a treat, you will make up for it and then some in the next few days or weeks, I kid you not!!!! Report
Dark chocolate. Report
I like the greek yoguet with honey Report
The best way I've found to have healthy snacks: Try eating gluten, dairy and soy-free, and have braces! It pretty much eliminates most snacks I used to grab on "autopilot". I love some of the Think Thin bars and Larabars. Besides those and fruit, another good option is a rice cake with fresh hummus or almond butter. I keep a small packet of maple almond nutter to add protein to a bar. Yum! Report
I go for the 72% Cacao dark chocolate. I can have a third of a bar and the sugar content is fairly low, plus I get antioxidants. Also love Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches. Report
I love my twizzlers too!! Strawberry and once and a while chocolate. Although I attended a raw foods class Monday night and the instructor made this INCREDIBLE chocolate heart. It was solid and so delicious. Report