Why We Crave Sweets After Dinner and What to Do About It

As your Blossom Water wellness advocate, I’ve taken it upon myself to download the My Fitness Pal App. And, for the first time in my life, I’ve started counting calories. OK. My calorie counting is not just Blossom-Water flavored altruism, I want to lose 15 pounds by the end of May. The calorie counting has brought new awareness to what and how much I eat. I had no idea. A grilled cheese sandwich has fewer calories than I’d imagined; granola has so many more! I became aware that after a meal, I crave something sweet. I’ve never been a big dessert person, and so I was surprised to notice that I crave sweets after dinner. I asked Dr. Google to tell me why we crave sweets after dinner and what to do about it.

Why We Crave Sweets
It turns out that we crave sweets for many reasons – some psychological some physiological. The psychological reasons are those you might expect: we like to eat dessert, we’re used to eating dessert, eating dessert creates closure, etc. The physiological are a little less predictable. Here are a few of them:

You’re Tired or Dehydrated
When you’re tired or dehydrated, your body will send a signal that is often misinterpreted as hunger. Sweets provide an easy boost. What to Do About It: Before you eat that sweet treat, try drinking some water first. Wait a few minutes, your cravings just might pass. Or take a nap!

Your Dinner was Too Salty
Our bodies are genetically and biologically predisposition to crave a variety of flavors because a wider variety of flavors creates the possibility of absorbing a wider variety of foods and thus nutrients. By craving sweets, your body is trying to send the signal that you need more variety. Sweet is an opposite of salty. What to Do About It: Read labels, taste your food before your salt it, use less salt over all – lemon is an excellent flavor enhancer!

Too many Carbs and Too Much Stress
“Sugar is a carbohydrate, grouped with other less-sweet carbs such as bread and pasta. Biotin, also known as vitamin B-7, can increase the satisfaction you get from the carbs you do eat and reduce your desire to overconsume them. Biotin helps your body convert carbs into the usable energy source of glucose. Getting enough biotin — which is easily depleted by antibiotic use, stress and digestive ailments — could help you use the carbs you do eat more efficiently and thus deter your body from wanting more.” What to Do About It: “Eat more cooked eggs, sardines, nuts, beans and cauliflower to load up on this important nutrient.” (https://www.livestrong.com/article/420416-vitamins-to-stop-sweet-cravings/)

You are Eating Too Fast, Not Chewing
Your grandmother was right. Chew your food more thoroughly. Digestion begins in the mouth. The act of chewing aids digestion by adding saliva, which moistens the food, making it easier for the digestive system to break down. And saliva contains the enzyme amylase which is also important to digestion. What to Do About It: You know what to do…slow down. By slowing down your eating, you’ll give your body more time to digest, you’ll become more aware of when you are actually satiated. You’ll become full with less food. It takes the brain about 20 minutes to register that your belly is full. By slowing down, you give yourself a better chance of noticing that you are satiated and won’t need sweets. And you’ll find more enjoyment in your meal which will also reduce your cravings for sweets. (More on this in our next post.)

You Need a Boost
The energy it takes your body to digest a meal can leave you feeling depleted of energy and craving a little boost. (Oh, the irony!) What to Do About It: Eat a more balanced meal. Unbalanced meals lead to uneven sugar levels and cravings.

What to Do About It:
Satisfy your craving for sweets naturally: add a side salad of veggies and fruit or add a sweet potato to your meal, add dried fruit to your rice or pilaf. Carrots and beets can be delightfully sweet without the caloric burden of sugary desserts.