Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN
Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.
"I cannot wait to not crave sweets anymore”! This is what many of my patients expect out of weight loss surgery, but don’t bet all your money on this changing completely. Not to scare anyone away from the decision to have WLS, but I have had quite a few patients continue to crave sweets following surgery. This is ever the more reason to begin exploring healthier alternatives to sweets prior to surgery so you can have a good list of go-tos.
Craving sweets can be caused by various things. High cortisol levels, imbalance of gut health, too little protein, too little sleep, high stress levels, or changes in hormones. No matter what the cause may be, it will continue to be important to prioritize your general health so that you can truly identify why you are craving sweets and manage it healthfully. So manage that stress, get adequate sleep, hit those protein goals, be kind to your gut, and hydrate well.
A good rule of thumb when choosing healthier options while prioritizing your nutrition goals is to choose a food item with protein plus something with that sweet taste you desire. Check out these examples:
1) Protein pudding. Combine a protein shake with a packet of sugar free Jell-O pudding mix. Think of what flavors go well together like chocolate and peanut butter.
2) Strawberries and chocolate hummus. There’s not much protein packed into this one, but you could always mix-in some tasteless protein with the hummus. The combination is like chocolate covered strawberries!
3) Cottage cheese and fruit. My favorite combo is pineapple or peaches, but you can use whatever fruit you like.
4) Apple slices and nut butter. An ultimate favorite for many of my patients, including myself! If you don’t like apples, try banana slices.
5) Protein bar. This is an easy go-to and a rest assured way to know you’re getting a good amount of protein. There are endless flavor options to suit your every craving.
6) Yogurt parfait. Who doesn’t like a good yogurt parfait!? Layer some Greek yogurt with frozen or fresh berries and top with granola.
7) Yogurt + whip cream. Where are my key lime pie or lemon icebox pie lovers? Oikos makes a lemon tart that is to die for. Top it with a dollop of whipped cream. I mean, c’mon! There are also other brands with key lime flavors so you can dream of eating key lime pie. For an added treat, top with some graham cracker crumbles!
8) Protein shake. Another great go-to. Many of my patients like to drink one as their after dinner snack.
9) Quest peanut butter cups. Offering 11g protein, these taste like the real deal!
10) Lenny & Larry’s The Complete Cookie. I love the fact these come in a vegan option. There are quite a few flavors, and they offer 16g plant-based protein. Not bad for a sweet treat!
It is important to know that the more you introduce your gut to sweet tasting foods, the more you make that little light bulb in your brain light up which is your dopamine response. You can certainly train your brain to like less of these foods if you feel you are craving sweets too often.
A helpful tip is to put your cravings on a scale of 1-10. If you want it at 5/10, maybe you can let it go. If you truly are craving something at a 10/10, go for it but be smart and responsible about your choices as much as possible. Don’t just eat sweets just due to habit. Many people might have a habit of having something sweet after dinner every night but they truly don’t want it. This is a part of practicing mindful eating and being aware of how you eat, why you eat, when you eat... You get it.
No one is perfect and absolutely no one follows a perfect diet. Just practice your mindful eating habits as much as possible, and you’ll continue to be a rock star in your weight loss journey!
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.