If you have a sweet tooth, resisting the temptation to indulge in candy can be a challenge. While you may have rolled your eyes in the past at the (rather smug) saying that, “fruit is nature’s candy” you’re not alone; there’s no disputing the fact that an apple is in no way a chocolate bar. Understanding why you crave sugar is an important step to making empowered and healthy choices in lieu of candy.
Where do cravings for candy come from?
Working out or exerting extra energy: When you finish a particularly challenging workout, you may notice your sugar cravings are at an all-time high. The reason? Your glycogen levels have been depleted and your body is looking for an efficient source of energy. Instead of candy (or a high-sugar protein bar), reach for a piece of fruit and a serving of protein to satisfy the craving.
Lack of quality sleep: If you’ve spent the night tossing and turning, the chances are low that you were able to achieve REM sleep for very long (or you missed it entirely.) During REM sleep, the parts of your brain associated with learning and memory are stimulated and if you don’t get adequate REM sleep you’re more likely to wake up craving sweets.
Skipping meals: Unfortunately, this tactic will inevitably backfire as energy levels crash and you begin to crave sugar, the most immediate source of energy you can consume. It’s much more effective to eat healthy portions of fruit and other naturally sweet foods throughout the day in order to control your sugar cravings.
Contrast sweet with salty
There’s a surprising scientific explanation why sweet and salty snacks are so delicious. It turns out that when we taste salt, it suppresses our ability to taste bitterness which in turn makes us perceive sweet tastes to be even sweeter than they actually are. You can use this phenomenon to your advantage when the sugar cravings hit by trying some of the following combinations:
- Lightly salted popcorn and unsweetened applesauce
- A serving of strong cheese (aged cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano and bleu cheese are all good choices) with sliced pears
- A small handful of salted almonds and a half cup of raspberries or blueberries
- Whole grain crackers and an orange or clementine
Roast fruit for delicious jammy goodness
The reason strawberries never taste as good out of season? They’re picked well-before peak ripeness and then shipped all over the world, resulting in sad, flavourless versions of the fruit you enjoyed so much all throughout June and July. Luckily, subpar fruit can be roasted at high heat for 20-30 minutes for major improvement in flavour. You can even add a scant drizzle of honey and a generous pinch of salt for an even sweeter taste. Berries, grapes, apples, and pears are all especially good when roasted and can be enjoyed on their own or paired with the following foods:
- Roasted strawberries added to a yogourt parfait made with nonfat plain yogourt, a tablespoon of granola and coconut flakes
- Roasted pears tucked into a grilled cheese sandwich
- Roasted apples stirred into oats or grits
- Roasted grapes served with prosciutto or other charcuterie item