A Simple, Healthy, Positive Trick to Tame Your Craving for Dessert

Auriane Alix
I have it after almost every meal.
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

I’m on the dessert team. After every meal, regardless of how full I am, I always crave something sweet. Maybe it’s because I grew up that way: my parents’ refrigerator was always stocked with all kinds of desserts.

Now they don’t have that anymore. And neither do I, as we’ve both discovered the impact of added sugars on our health and weight.

But still, an apple or a banana doesn’t always fit into what little appetite I have left, or isn’t enough to satisfy my sugar craving. As a result, I would leave the table with a feeling of frustration and end up eating something (too) sweet 2 hours later.

That belongs to the past. I have found a way to curb this craving without affecting my health or weight. It’s a simple, healthy, and positive solution that allows me to go back to my business after each meal feeling fully satisfied.

But first, let’s understand why “ordinary” desserts are not to be eaten every day

I could eat a muffin, a slice of cake, or ice cream after every meal. I love it. I just have a sweet tooth. But the problem is, it’s loaded with sugar. And calories, but that’s another story. And sugar has tons of downsides.

There are two types of sugar. The one that occurs naturally in any food that contains carbs, like fruits, vegetables, grains, or dairy. This one is okay, since it is natural. It doesn’t have too much of an impact on your blood sugar, and it’s combined with the other nutrients in the food, allowing your body to digest it slowly.

The problem is added sugar. The kind that is found just about everywhere in processed foods. I am currently in Costa Rica and while shopping I was surprised to find added sugar even in canned peas! There is added sugar in soups, bread, sauces… Anything that is processed and ready to eat. Unless you are very careful about what items you allow in your cart.

Needless to say, sugar is present in large quantities in all ordinary desserts.

“‘Your liver metabolizes sugar the same way as alcohol, and converts dietary carbohydrates to fat,’ says Dr. Hu [Professor of nutrition, to Health Harvard]. Over time, this can lead to a greater accumulation of fat, which may turn into fatty liver disease, a contributor to diabetes, which raises your risk for heart disease.”

Processed sugar also creates a spike in insulin, which is the hormone made in your pancreas that allows your body to use glucose for energy. In addition to turning sugar into fat, this also leads to a later crash, leaving you feeling weak and low on energy. This prompts you to consume other sugar-rich foods. It’s a vicious cycle.

For all these reasons, I couldn’t continue to eat large amounts of processed sugar after almost every meal. I tried to work around the craving, but it wasn’t the solution. I had to find a substitute. Which came in the form of… dark chocolate.

A square of dark chocolate, and that’s it!

Of course, there’s sugar in chocolate. But if you choose it well, there is not that much. I always have good chocolate in my kitchen. When I feel like it, which is almost after every meal, I enjoy a small square of chocolate. It’s small, low in sugars and calories, and it calms my sugar craving until the next meal.

I always choose the most cocoa-rich chocolate I can find. During my travels as a digital nomad, it’s not always easy to find chocolate that’s over 70%, but in France, I sometimes even buy the 99% one. Many people hate it. Personally, I love the strength of cocoa and the way its flavor unfolds when you let it melt in your mouth. It’s such a rich taste!

The more cocoa there is, the less sugar it contains. I also try to choose it organic, and with few ingredients. It’s very important to be picky about the foods that have a daily place in your diet.

Besides being so good, dark chocolate is full of health benefits. Made from the seed of the cacao tree, it is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet.

“If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious. It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals. The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is also excellent. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturated fat. It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but is unlikely to keep you awake at night as the amount of caffeine is very small compared to coffee.” — Healthline

Dark chocolate may also reduce the risk of heart disease if consumed regularly and improve blood flow to the brain.

But above all, it is simply delicious and constitutes a healthy substitute for desserts filled with calories and sugar. For example, chocolate with 85% cocoa contains on average 15g of sugar/100g. A square of chocolate weighs about 10g, so when you eat one, you get 1.5g of sugar. When you consume a sweetened flavored yogurt, you ingest an average of 18g of sugar.

That’s 12 times more.

How to choose quality chocolate?

White chocolate and milk chocolate don’t count. They are loaded with sugar and contain almost none of the benefits mentioned above. Here are some criteria for choosing healthy dark chocolate:

  • At least 70% cocoa
  • As few ingredients as possible
  • No milk
  • Preferably organic
  • No added flavorings
  • No trans fats, which are linked to heart disease
“To make sure your chocolate doesn’t include trans fat, check the ingredients list. If hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil is present, that means the bar contains trans fat.” Healthline

In short, the cocoa content should be as high and the composition as simple as possible.

Final thoughts

Sometimes I still have that ice cream or slice of cake that I love so much. Because life is short, and life is about balance. Whenever you can, opt for fruit instead. But if you feel a craving, don’t deprive yourself. Check to see if it's a real one or not, and act accordingly.

I am a firm believer in understanding your cravings and honoring them, as consciously as possible. This trick has helped me in this way.

I have tried to educate my body to eat much less processed sugar. Doing so helped me regulate my appetite and energy levels much better. Sugar acts like a drug and leaves you feeling depleted when you run out of it, which makes you want to have another serving. When you make the effort to detox your body from it, it feels weird at first, but then you feel the difference.

You don’t need sugar to perform at your best. What you do need is natural, whole, unprocessed foods. That’s what makes all the difference.

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