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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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I keep a jar with a mix of 65% dark chocolate chips,dried cranberries, almonds, and a few raisins. Add some cinnamon and shake it up. A little goes a long way. Report
I actually prefer savoury when i get cravings - bad fried stuff and pastries. BUT when i do want something sweet, i want cheeeesecake and cream ! I might have a treat of a small slice to feed the craving, but stick to limts! (at the moment!) Report
I usually want something sweet either in the afternoon or early evening. I usually grab sugar free hot cocoa. It is sweet and chocolaty and usually curbs my sweet tooth for only about 25 calories!!! Gotta love that! Report
I definitely reach for chocolate, but try to have a 100 calorie pack so it's portioned Report
I use a Balance Bar, peanut-caramel chocolate covered..it tastes like a Snickers Bar but has 210 calores, 15 grams of protein, and 7 grams of fat. I cut it into little pieces on a pretty plate and have a cup of tea.
Also, there are many measured portions of all sorts of ice cream treats from Weight Watchers or Skinny Cow, but I myself have been known to have 2..so i think twice before bringing them into the house.
For those who love dark chocolate and find themselves unprepared with a commercial product, try this: mix a dollop of honey with an equal amount of unsweetened baking cocoa powder like Hersheys, and stir and stir in a little cup until it forms a firm fudgelike candy! It takes about a minute, longer than just blending the 2 items.
I also will slice an apple up and drizzle it with honey.
In grocery store chocolate, we have recently discovered a new premium offering from Dove, with cranberries, and the bar is presented as three gold foil wrapped modest portions. If you have three people at hand, this is very delicious and sucessful! Report
Fresh fruit is my first choice. If the cravings continue AND it's okay with my nutrition tracker, I'll grab between 10 to 20 pieces of a dark chocolate covered dried fruit and/or nuts.

While on SparkPeople I have learned portion-control, self-control, and to plan ahead. Never would have touched chocolate the first couple of months in the program. I would have gone uncontrollably crazy! Report
Mmmmm Cocoa coated ALMONDS!! get the sweet and salty fix :) and filling! Report
I like to have South Beach living fiber fit Smore granola bar. They are yummy and satisfy my monster craving for something sweet. Report
Chocolate! Report
I slice up a fresh banana, put the slices in a tupperware container in the freezer and when I get the craving for something sweet, I reach for a slice or two of the frozen bananas! Try it, they are great! Report
I musn't tell a lie (LOL) - my all time forbidden sweet indulgence is a Rockslide Brownie (scrumpdillyicious!), about once every 2 month I treat myself to one, if I crave it. My more healthy sweet indulgence, about once every 6 weeks is a sliced fresh ripe banana with 1/2 cup of Ciao Bella Coconut Sorbetto (Deelish!) Report
Today I will reach for the Greek yogurt I bought yesterday with berries and honey. Report
I think I was born with a permanent sweet tooth.....so when I journal each day, I build in a 100 calorie "dessert" that I eat around 8 p.m. It is usually yogurt, lite ice cream, kettle corn, etc. Always sweet! Perhaps this isn't good for me, but at my age, I'm into some comfort. Report
i have to say that these were so helpful! i'll admit i love the chocolate altoids & also nutella. i'll just make myself a 1/2 nutella sandwich on some whole wheat or honey wheat bread & it really hits the spot & is pretty healthy, too. if i'm really needing something, a little bit of a nutrilite french vanilla meal replacement shake or one of their chocolate crisp meal replacement bars. they're soooo rich that i have to eat them slowly & with a glass of milk, and they're almost a chocolate overload, in a healthy way! mmm.... thanks for the other ideas, all! Report
You guys are just waaaay to good !! I applaud you!!! When my sweet tooth hits I'm into the snickers and red licorice, actually anything that is sweet and fattening. Can't convince my sweet tooth that the imitations will satisfy it. Report
When my sweet tooth or any tooth strikes (for that matter) I stop myself before I reach for anything. Often, I am feeling bored or lonely and get hungry to feed the need for affection. I tend to that need first by being present to myself and by deep breathing. Those actions usually fill me up. I usually have fruit or drink water. I admit I have a thing for chocolate. On occasion, I indulge in a small portion of Lind chocolates and keep track of the calories in the nutrition tracker. Report
Yoplait light works for me. Its fat free and they have flavors like white chocolate raspberry, cheesecake - and they taste great!! Report
I like dark chocolate peanut butter, Nutella butter, or as a last resort, regular peanut butter. It is high in protien and fat so it satisfies my sweet tooth and my hunger. I find that if I eat a spoonful and wait 15 minutes, I usually don't feel I need anything else. I eat it on fruit when I can. Also, I like that it I can package a spoonful for the road if I need it. Report
sugarless gum. Report
I am sooo glad I read this post. I have a terrible sweet tooth. And I'm afraid I've passed it on to my husband as well! Sugar is so contagious. But now I have LOTS of ideas for semi-healthy sweets so we don't cave in to the call of ice cream so often. Plus, that gets expensive!

I was wondering though, would anyone have a good recipe for NO BAKE COOKIES that perhaps includes DARK CHOCOLATE, ALMOND BUTTER, and STEVIA? Seems like that would be a semi-healthy treat... Report
My sugar fix of choice is frozen grapes!!!! Report
I'm going to have to try THENORA's cinnamon-banana treat. The good thing about the cinnamon is that study(ies) show that cinnamon helps regulated blood sugar -- level out the peaks. I'm sorry I don't have a source for you to read for yourself.

I also love dark chocolate. I try to buy free-trade bars like Green&Black's organic "Maya Gold" bar. I also like "Endangered Species Chocolate" bars and other bars "with a cause" associated with them.

Apples and natural peanut butter. Oatmeal with apples, cinnamon and some brown sugar in it. A bowl of granola although granola can be loaded with sugar. I usually get my cravings after my kiddies go to bed. Report
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!! Report
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. Report
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. Report
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... Report
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... Report
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... Report
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. Report
i generally have a cup of tea and go get busy to take my mind off of it Report
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. Report
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! Report
I eat one square of super dark chocolate (70 - 85% cocoa). Lindt Excellence is pretty good for a drugstore candy.... Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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
/ Report
Yeah for Twizzlers and chocolate covered almonds. Snack size twisslers have few calories and really satisfy my sweet cravings. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
On occasion I have dark chocolate but, mostly when the craving hits, I grab fruit (I love green seedless grapes!). Report
I like my PB Nanna Poppers. They are simple to make, and five of them fill me up. Report
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 Report
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! Report
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 Report
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. Report
Any fruits or small dark chocolate chips! Report
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! Report
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