Cravings for all things sweet

I’m sure I can vouch for many us of when I say we all get a craving for something sweet from time to time, whether it be in the afternoon when we are tired and our energy levels are low, or that sweet craving that kicks in after dinner. I’ll be the first to admit that I often get cravings for a sweet treat after dinner, and sometimes I just need something small to satisfy these cravings.

There are sweet foods that we want to avoid, particularly in the afternoon and at night. These include heavily processed, refined, and packaged products which are full of sugar, trans-unsaturated fats, additives and artificial sweeteners. Why are these bad? Well sugar causes a spike in our blood sugar levels, so when we have a craving for something sweet, our blood sugar is often quite low (1) and there are imbalances in certain hormones such as serotonin our happy hormone, dopamine, our reward system hormone, and leptin which is responsible for maintaining energy levels and inhibiting hunger (2). When these IMBALANCES occur we consume something sweet to bring our blood sugar levels back up (1) and we get a hit of serotonin and dopamine which makes us feel good (2). However, our blood sugar doesn’t remain elevated for a long period of time with the consumption of refined sugars, instead it drops back down again, causing the cravings to come back so we consume something sweet again. This is where we get those continuous dips and spikes in blood sugar levels, which can be damaging to our health, and over the long term may lead to a range of health conditions (1). To keep our blood sugar levels stable, we need to consume foods that are high in fibre and protein, and low in refined sugars and carbohydrates (1).

Trans fats can be just a damaging to our health, and these are found in products such as baked goods, deep fried foods, vegetable fats like margarine and processed foods such as cakes and biscuits (2). The reason why these types of fats should be avoided is because they raise cholesterol levels, specifically low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is considered ‘bad’ cholesterol, whilst lowering high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, our ‘good’ cholesterol (2). The implications of consuming high amounts of trans fats poses a risk for cardiovascular disease (2).

My Favourite Sweet Treats

·       1-2 medjool dates filled with peanut butter or almond butter with cocao nibs

·       Jean Hailes Linseed, Banana and Date Muffins

·       Protein Balls

·       Choc Banana ‘Nice Cream’

·       Choc Avo Mousse

·       The Carob Kitchen – Carob Bar (almond or coconut is my favourite)

·       Jess Sepel’s Crunchy Peanut Butter Fudge

·       Homemade Chai Latte with chai tea leaves, spices and milk of choice (I love almond or soy milk)

Reference List

1.           Sami W, Ansari T, Butt NS, Hamid MRA. Effect of diet on type 2 diabetes mellitus: A review. Int J Health Sci. 2017;11(2):65–71.

2.           Nam SB, Kim K, Kim BS, Im H-J, Lee SH, Kim S-J, et al. The Effect of Obesity on the Availabilities of Dopamine and Serotonin Transporters. Sci Rep. 2018 Mar 21;8(1):4924–4924.

3.           Iqbal MP. Trans fatty acids - A risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Pak J Med Sci. 2014;30(1):194–7.


Casey Luttrell