Yes, it’s that time of year again when your eyes are likely on the lookout for tips to trim pounds and to control your hunger and appetite. You may also catch come-on headlines for articles about how to control sugar cravings and sweet cravings. Be on the alert, within these reads you may spot verbiage that falsely accuses low-calorie sweeteners of causing hunger, increased appetite and/or cravings.
Let’s address the science on the connection between low-calorie sweeteners and increased hunger, appetite and/or cravings first. Then I’ll offer six practical strategies to help you put mind over matter to control them.
Low-Calorie Sweeteners and Appetite: The Science
The myth that low-calorie sweeteners cause an increase in appetite, hunger and sugar cravings is one you may see, but research studies just don’t prove this notion out. Studies show that sugar substitutes do not affect appetite and they may actually help people quench their sweet cravings and be more satisfied with healthier food choices, also referred to as a healthy dietary pattern.1,2
The 2015 review of research2 on this topic drew three conclusions:
- there was no consistent relationship to show a heightened appetite for sweet foods with the use of sugar substitutes,
- some research shows that the use of sugar substitutes and products sweetened with them is associated with eating fewer sweets, and
- studies in children and adults show the use of sugar substitutes can help people reduce the calorie containing sweeteners they eat, and support weight loss.
More on this topic: “Do Regular Consumers of Low-Calorie Sweeteners Have More Sweet Cravings?”
Not only do low-calorie sweeteners not increase appetite, hunger and sweet cravings, but there’s also research that shows they can help people lose weight and keep it off. While they’re certainly no magic bullet for weight loss, low-calorie sweeteners can be part of a healthy lifestyle that includes careful calorie counting, selecting healthy foods, slowly changing eating habits and exercising regularly.
More on this topic: “Dear Dietitian – Will Artificial Sweeteners Cause Me to Gain Weight?”
Six Strategies to Reduce Calories and Sugar Cravings
Try one, two or more of these strategies to help you control hunger, appetite and sweet cravings:
- Maintain a rhythm to your meals and snacks. You may prefer three squares a day and no snacks, or two larger meals and two smaller, snack-like meals. There’s no one or best way of eating that works for everyone. Figure out what works best for you to eat healthy and stay within your calorie allotment to get to and stay at a healthy weight. Find and stick to your rhythm – the one that works for you over time.
- Don’t skip meals. Otherwise you may set yourself up for being hungry prior to your next meal or snack and/or increase sweet cravings. When you skip a meal or eat a snack rather than a full-fledged meal, it can be easier to rationalize extra calories later in the day figuring you missed a boatload of calories. This, more often than not, can backfire with an excess of calories that may just be from foods that don’t offer optimal nutrition.
- Find a few go-to sweet-tasting foods that can satisfy your sugar cravings. As you begin to cut down on typical sweets, candy, cookies, cake and the like; rely on fresh and dried fruit. Dried fruit makes a great portable, non-perishable sweet quencher that also offers energy as well asvitamins and minerals. Consider raisins, dried plums (prunes), dates, apricots, pears or a mixture. Jazz-up fruit-based desserts to finish a meal or enjoy as a snack. From SPLENDA® recipes try the simple-to-fix Tropical Yogurt Parfait or the Pear Cranberry Crisp.
- Satisfy your sugar cravings within your daily calories. If you’ve just got to have something sweet, figure these sweets into your calorie allotment. Set limits on when and how you’re going to enjoy them. Make sure each bite is well worth the calories. You can also find ways to quench your sweet tooth with desserts and snacks made with a low-calorie sweetener, like SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. Plenty of ideas await you at Splenda.com/recipes.
- Create a list of do-instead-of-nibbling activities for when sweet cravings hit or you feel hungry yet you know you simply can’t be. Hunger and cravings can set in due to stress, boredom, loneliness, tiredness and more. Many times, doing a non-food related activity like contacting a friend or relative, reading a book or article, doing hand crafts, heading to bed, or countless other activities, can thwart nibbling.
- Establish an evening routine that sets you up to not give in to evening snacking or nibbling. Try one or more of these steps: Brush your teeth immediately after dinner. Turn off the kitchen lights and don’t re-enter.
Good luck to a healthier 2018!
I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.
Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE, BC-ADM, is a nationally recognized dietitian and diabetes educator who applies more than 35 years of expertise as an author, freelance writer, media spokesperson, consultant and diabetes educator. Hope notes: “Healthy eating today is one tough job! The good news is that simple tweaks in your food choices and how you prepare foods can often set you on a path to healthier eating. Each positive step is a step in the right direction along the path to a long and healthy life.”
- Drewnowski A, Rehm CD. Consumption of LCS Among U.S. Adults is Associated With Higher Healthy Eating Index (HEI 2005) Scores and More Physical Activity. Nutrients. 2014;6:4389-4403. http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/6/10/4389/htm
- Bellisle F. Intense Sweeteners, Appetite for the Sweet Taste, and Relationship to Weight Management. Curr Obes Rep. 2015;4:106–110. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs13679-014-0133-8#/page-1