Few come to the nutritionist’s office just for the sake of sweet appetite, but when eating problems start to be solved, over-delicacy is one of the most common things that comes up.
Pirjo Saarnia, a non-fiction writer and nutritionist, talks about this in his book The Great Food Scam - 25 Nutrition Claims, which are not true (WSOY).
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In her book, Saarnia says that many are trying to solve the problem either by starting a total sugar strike or by grabbing a jar of chromium supplement.
However, these are not the most effective and permanent solution, as total strike typically curbs sugar cravings only temporarily.
Even chromium supplementation rarely provides significant help - especially if the situation is not remedied in other meals and meal rhythms.
- Instead of individual nutrient deficiencies, there are other factors behind the craving for sweets.
The most important of these is the blood sugar balance prevailing during the day, which is not affected by the addition of chromium, but by the composition and rhythm of the individual meal, Saarnia writes.
You can get rid of cravings in a couple of weeks
Pirjo Saarnia says that she often meets people at her reception who have suffered from uncontrolled sweet eating for decades.
It will come as a surprise to many how quickly the problem can begin to ease.
- They are very surprised to get rid of the craving for sweets within a couple of weeks of starting the meal changes.
According to the book, sweet craving is mainly the result of too long meal intervals and throwing blood sugar levels.
The craving for sweetness begins to go out when the meal rhythm is regular and the meals are prepared so that there is enough fiber, protein and good quality fat.
Take care of the amount of protein in your lunch
Saarnia says that studies show that the amount of protein in lunch is very important for enduring the rest of the day and preventing cravings.
- If the amount of protein in lunch is too low, it will have a detrimental effect on postprandial blood sugar levels.
According to a nutritionist, a light lunch with a suitable amount of protein is usually about 25 to 30 grams.
In practice, such an amount is obtained, for example, if the south-west consists of 80 to 100 grams of chicken, fish or meat fillets, and some protein also comes from other foods.
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In addition to protein, Saarnia advises to pay attention to the fiber content and fat quality of lunch.
- As a source of fiber, a piece of wholemeal bread is often a better choice than potatoes, rice or pasta.
- Good fat quality also helps to control sweet cravings.
Studies show that soft, unsaturated fat improves sugar and insulin metabolism.
Hard, saturated fat is not as helpful.
Other meals of the day also affect the craving for sweets
In addition to lunch, the craving for sweets is also influenced by the other meals of the day.
The breakfast should be taken care of, because if it is too scarce or completely missed, it is easy to take too much at lunch.
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- By noon, the blood sugar level has dropped low, and after too much lunch, it rises too high for a while.
This often causes fatigue and very soon also a craving for sweets.
The typical problem for the rest of the evening is too long a meal interval, which causes your blood sugar level to drop too low again - resulting in uncontrolled eating and cravings for sweets.
The phenomenon could be effectively prevented by eating a sensible snack in the afternoon, even if you don’t feel hungry yet.
- If the feeling of hunger is already clear, then you are usually already late for a steady blood sugar level.
What is lust?
It is good to understand what sweet craving really means, nutritionist Pirjo Saarnia reminds.
If you want to eat a piece of chocolate or a couple of salmiakas after lunch or dinner, it’s not about lust for sweets but rather a learned habit - which, however, is controlled sweet eating.
It is not uncommon or worrying if you want to treat yourself to a piece of chocolate after food with coffee.
If, on the other hand, the amounts don’t stay under control, and instead of a couple of pieces, the whole plate or a big bag of candy often goes, it’s about uncontrollable lust for sweets.
Source: Pirjo Saarnia: The Great Food Scam - 25 Nutrition Claims That Are Not True, WSOY (2020).