Friday, January 11, 2013

How Do I Decrease my Sweet Cravings?! (FAQ Friday)

Before I begin today's post, I want to provide you with a recipe I promised several weeks ago; Kumquat Salsa!  

The thing I like about kumquats (similar to dates) is that they are like eating a little piece of candy.  They could be considered "nature's candy" in a way, do you agree?  If you've never tried a kumquat you're supposed to eat them whole, skin and all.  They are slightly bitter, but also sweet. I'll be honest though, if I had a sugar craving I'd still need some chocolate to really satisfy me (I made kumquats dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with a tiny bit of sugar once for a demo at work, and they were a huge hit.)

Don't you just love the name KUMQUAT?! Go ahead and say it out loud.  Kumquat,  KUMQUAT!  You might also love knowing that 1-serving of kumquats has about 6 grams of fiber.  Wowza!  

Kumquat Salsa

(Makes ~2.5 cups)

2 cups chopped, cleaned, and thinly sliced kumquats
1/4 cups chopped red onion
1/4th cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Dash of cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients.  Add more or less red pepper and cayenne to desired heat.  Let sit for 1 hour for the flavors to more fully blend.  Serve with chips or a protein like steak, halibut, sea bass or salmon.

Note:  If you are following a Low FODMAPS diet you will need to omit the onion.  Or do what I did and just eat around the onion (because you will most likely be feeding others as well, and they will want the onion!).  I also used a "Tuscan Olive Oil" with herbal infusions to add more flavor so I didn't miss the onion.

Now for today's post.  Since it's the new year and all, many of you may have resolved to lose weight or eat less sugar, or just eat healthier, period.  Many of you may have a sweet tooth because you went so long eating sweets throughout the holidays, freely, without any restrictions, and now all of a sudden you won't allow yourself to continue.  They are now "off limit foods".  Sound familiar?

Here are some other situations that may cause a craving for sugar, or a sweet tooth (chronic or acute);

  • You go on vacation and you eat a very high-calorie, high-fat, high-sugar diet, and you come back and all you want to do is eat junk!

My last vacation.  Cheers!
Again, vacation.  Lots of sugar.

  • You get a really bad night of sleep, and you feel like crap, and all you want to do is eat carbs and sit around the house all day.

  • You are emotionally distrot, and you are either stressed or sad or angry, and you just want to dive into a giant carton of ice cream.

These are just a few situations that could cause sugar cravings.  But alas, there is one more.  Our brains tell us that we are craving sugar many times, simply because we assume we should.


1)  You typically eat dessert right after dinner.  So after dinner you say, "I'm craving a piece of cake"....but are you really? Or is it just habit?

2)  You are a women and you're PMSing.  You assume that sugar and chocolate cravings come with PMS, they??  Read this article and you'll find out that one study showed women's chocolate cravings actually do not increase during PMS (but, to be fair, this study doesn't represent every single women on this planet.  All I'm saying is you need to stop and ask yourself if you're just assuming you have a craving because "That's what happens" or if you really are having a craving).

My inspiration to write this post came from this article, which talked about the power of two words "I don't", and how they can actually reduce cravings by signaling more empowerment instead of deprivation.

Source: iStock Photo
In a situation like this, choosing the apple instead of the chocolate cake might cause a craving later in the day.  But, according to the article, it might be beneficial to tell yourself "I don't" eat cake, rather than "I can't" eat cake.  Try it.  

The bottom line is that most of our "cravings" are mental, and they stem from habits (and biology).  It's true.  And like I've learned personally, and through those I've worked with, if you really work hard to reduce the sugar in your diet, you will crave it less, just as long as you don't restrict yourself to the point of an eventual binge down the road (ie: every once in a while you have to allow yourself a nice treat!).  And, tell yourself "I don't" instead of "I can't", and it might make a huge difference.  I really recommend reading the article, it's quite interesting.

Want to read more?  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics posted this great article about cravings, and how to reduce them.  And if you have a craving, especially for something sweet, but you don't want to stray too far form your healthy eating goals, check out my list of healthier sweet treat options.  These are the sweet foods I ate (and still eat) to help me get rid of my "sugar addiction".  And yes, I had one!  It all stemmed from bad habits that I eventually broke.

QUESTION:  What are some strategies you use to reduce or diminish cravings?

Thanks for reading!

The Candid Rd
NOTE: I love comments!  But, be sure to come back to read any replies to questions or comments, as they do not go directly to your e-mail.


  1. totally agree. I always tell people if they are craving sugar, it's usually caused by something else.. stress, lack of sleep, nutrients, etc. Life's to short not to enjoy it but still, being aware of the excess is key, yes?

    1. Exactly. You should never give someone up completely, but allow it on special occassions. For example, I never eat cake, BUT today is Nick's b-day so.....of course I'm going to!

  2. for me, it's best to just get it out almost completely. The past 4 days I've barely eaten any and I'm not even craving it! I have to readthat article link though!Always looking for new ideas to share!

  3. I LOVE kumquats and now that I think about it, I haven't seen them at my local store yet. I definitely hope to get some soon.

  4. Love this post! Is funny I could relate to all of your examples on reasons why we may crave sweets (ie: the having a bad night, the vacation where we don’t restrict ourselves but then we have to come back to reality, the carbs craving, etc. etc.). I like the idea of using “I don’t” rather than “I cant”. The I don’t makes me feel powerful and in control. I also agree that a lot of it is mental. Mind over matter, as they say! Thanks for sharing. I am looking forward to reading the article you recommend here as well.

  5. I find having a nice cup of tea after dinner curbs my desire for dessert at night. I'm currently in the middle of an elimination diet (trying to figure out what is causing my stomach issues), and completely cutting out sugar left me desiring something sweet after dinner. I ordered a bunch of new herbal teas online, and I've been enjoying trying a different one every night. So far my favorites are blueberry and strawberry. They're almost a little sweet on their own, so I find them to be a good replacement for dessert!

    1. Hey Julie! I do tea a lot too. LAtely I've been using the "sleep tea" to help me sleep, and as a nice little after-dinner treat. I used to hate tea, bow I swear by it.

  6. KUMQUAT!! lol ;) I've actually never tried kumquat, although I've seen them in stores. I'm curious about your chocolate-dipped version - maybe I'll try sampling that one!

    My fail proof craving reducer (which works for some people but not everyone!) is to brush my teeth after meals. If I still want something after that, I must REALLY be hungry :)

    1. I love that idea, about brushing your teeth. Sometimes I do listerine swishes!

  7. I find using the phrase "I don't" to sound...odd. Because if something isn't totally off limits, then saying you don't is really lying to yourself, no? It still seems to have it's own judgement attached to it.

    1. I agree, but I think of it as more of a situational thing. So, maybe "I don't eat that dessert at daytime work parties, but I do on special occassions". I think the phrase I don't sounds much less like you're depriving yourself. "I can't" sounds like you are following know? It's just a mind game I guess.

  8. So much of eating can be emotional and out of habit. I don't really like sweets but certainly ate too many over the holidays. I realize that I often didn't think if I really wanted something but just ate it automatically because everyone else did and because that's "what you do during the holidays." I also drank way too much coffee (once again!).

    Somebody else mentioned herbal tea after dinner, and I love that too. Right now my favorite is a tropical rooibos blend.