Attack of the Sweet Tooth

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 by Coach Denise

It’s a familiar story: you start a new eating plan to lose weight or to improve your health and BAM, the cravings for sweets cause you to binge on an entire box of cookies or carton of ice cream. At this point, you decide that you just don’t have the will power needed to eat a healthy diet and go back to your old eating habits.

Turns out it’s not always about will power. A study* was done that showed that high fat and calorie foods act like cocaine on the brain. This study showed that rats that were allowed to binge on high fat foods exhibited the same reactions as rats that were addicted to cocaine, seeking out the high fat foods despite being administered punishments for doing so.

Ok, so we’re not rats, but these foods do impact our brains and cause us to crave them even when we know that they do not support our eating goals. So how can we combat these cravings? Here are a few tips that I give my clients.

  • Avoid eating highly processed foods and at restaurants as much as possible. Food companies work hard to find the best combination of fat, salt and sugar to cause people to crave their foods even more.
  • If you are craving something sweet after a meal, try eating fruit, brushing your teeth, or having a mint or gum.
  • Don’t completely cut out sweets, but limit how much of them that you eat. Don’t keep them in the house and reserve them for occasional treats.
  • Try adding a snack in the late afternoon that has a combination of carbs, protein and healthy fat. Celery with peanut butter and yogurt and almonds are good choices.

I know that it’s not easy to avoid highly processed foods, but it’s not easy training for a triathlon either and you haven’t let that stop you.

What tricks do you use to battle your cravings? Share them in the comments below and maybe I’ll have a new list for you in a few months.

* (2010). Do Fatty Foods Act like Cocaine in the Brain? Retrieved January 12, 2012 from:


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