When yr only havin' seconds, I'ma havin' twenty thirds.
October 13, 2009 12:46 PM   Subscribe

Why do I want to eat candy so badly?

Over the course of the summer, I starting watching what I ate and exercising a lot. This has paid dividends in the form of losing about 15 pounds, feeling a lot better, looking a lot better, et. al. Ideally, I'd like to lost another 15 pounds, but strangely, I have recently (as in the last month or so) developed an overwhelming urge to eat candy all the time. and I mean ALL THE TIME. Everytime I see a candy bar, I start salivating. Its not that I'm not getting enough sugar, because I eat bananas and stawberries for snacks, but I've broken down a couple of times and gotten some really crappy food.

Why am I coveting all this shitty food?

How do I keep myself from eating it?
posted by orville sash to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you are in the Northern hemisphere, your body wants to stock up on sugary, fatty, high-calorie food before the winter comes.
posted by kellyblah at 12:51 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Well, first off, I don't think anyone should feel bad for eating some candy "a couple of times" in a month, as you report. To paraphrase Danny DeVito's character in Heist: "Everybody wants candy. That's why they call it candy."

So why not have a little something sweet in moderation on a regular basis? A couple of small squares of really good, dark chocolate may very well satisfy your daily candy craving -- and the good stuff isn't really bad for you, anyway.
posted by scody at 12:55 PM on October 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

Try keeping sugar-free treats and small pieces of high-quality dark chocolate handy (as dark as you can stand).

I also like natural chocolate pudding, even though it's not very low-calorie. At least it's got some calcium and a quarter-cup is usually satisfying.
posted by juliplease at 12:58 PM on October 13, 2009

i've noticed that best possible thing i have ever done for mysefl was allow myself to give into cravings sometime. taco bell, burger king, tastycakes, donuts....i started out this year so close to 180 i stopped weighting myself. i'm now down to 158!

sometimes you just having cravings...it's not gonna kill you or make you gain it all back. unless you eat like 10 pounds of fudge, but that won't' really turn into 10 pounds of fat inside your body.

so...maybe you just like the taste of candy...eat a little and see how it goes..it may be that having a few bites of snickers satisfies the cravings. (oh, i also had to get over feeling bad about throwing uneaten food away.)

there's most likely nothing wrong with you :)
posted by sio42 at 1:01 PM on October 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

Are you eating enough fat? I think it's been shown - but I don't have any citations - that a lack of sufficient dietary fat increases sugar cravings.

I also agree that candy (and any food) is fine to have in moderation. Maybe you could have a fun size candy bar every day as part of a meal or snack, or a full size candy bar once or twice a week as a snack.
posted by insectosaurus at 1:09 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

You could consider a reduced-carb diet. I have heard from friends and relatives that after a couple of weeks your sugar cravings just disappear.
posted by beandip at 1:10 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

It might be because you are denying yourself that you crave it so bad. Give in but don't pig out. Remember, no food is wrong for you in moderation.

and I nthing the suggestions of dark chocolate. Or maybe try something really rich - like dove chocolates.
posted by royalsong at 1:11 PM on October 13, 2009

I agree with sio42, you're supposed to want this stuff, it's a quick hit of sugar and fat and deliciousness. You (along with most of us) have spent a lifetime developing a slow-burning addiction to this stuff. You've made great strides, but there's nothing wrong with indulging that impulse every so often. Maybe instead of trying to cut back to nothing (although that's not a bad end goal, in and of itself, eventually) you should use your snacking as motivation to run an extra mile or work out for an extra 15 minutes or whatever. That way you can have your cake and burn it off too.

Personal anecdote: I'm in the middle of the p90x workout plan, but today my coworker brought in cake for a birthday. I indulged in a small piece. Enough to celebrate and to satisfy my rabid sweet tooth, but not enough to make me feel like a little piggy. I'll go home and push myself through my workout, and I continue to eat healthy the rest of the day. That's a method that works for me.
posted by dnesan at 1:16 PM on October 13, 2009

Yeah, yeah, everybody says moderation is key, but for me, moderation is an impossibility if I'm trying to lose weight. One bite or a small portion only makes me want more. And more, and more. For me, the only way to avoid overindulging in candy is to not have candy around.

I recently lost about twenty pounds over a five month period, and by the end I was having almost resentful feelings about not being able to eat what I wanted. I wonder if that's part of what's going on with you - you've lost enough to feel and look noticeably better, and are missing what you feel like you can't have. It's really hard to stay in that mental weight loss zone full-time. Maybe just give yourself a break for a few weeks and eat what you like. You'll probably get sick of it pretty quickly and jump back on the wagon.
posted by something something at 1:37 PM on October 13, 2009

Seconding 'eat more fat' and 'reduce your other carbs'. I find that when I eat lots of bread, potatos, rice, etc., I turn into a sugar monster. I also got major sweet cravings when I tried to cut back on fat.

High-protein, high-fat diet works really well for me. Lots of nuts, avocados, chicken skin (if you eat chicken). Cutting back on the caffeine helped too - the caffeine crash gave me major sweet cravings. I still want sweet stuff, but now I can have a piece (or not) and stop afterward. YMMV!
posted by Knicke at 1:38 PM on October 13, 2009 [3 favorites]

You know, I can't eat fruit. Or I can eat it, but from a metabolism standpoint it's like I had a fistful of chips. I'm hungry an hour later, and generally all day long and I wind up eating several hundred more calories over the course of the day than I normally would, and it's not just calories, it's crap calories.

I have to treat fruit like candy and expect if I eat it, my blood sugar's going to get wonky and I'm going to want to tear into a Burger King.

Maybe it's the same for you. If I have some watermelon or an apple at breakfast, I can guarantee I'm going to be gazing lovingly at the vending machine by 10 AM.

I'm not some nut or anything -- I like fruit! I like candy! But that's the way it goes for me.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:47 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding 'eat more fat' and 'reduce your other carbs'.

Try almond butter, and not that awful Blue Diamond stuff. Trader Joe's is the least expensive if that is convenient for you. It's slightly sweet, filling, yummy, and indulgent even at TJ's price.

It's intriguing to me that you are having candy cravings, because, for me, working out reduces or kills those types of cravings.
posted by jgirl at 2:03 PM on October 13, 2009

Our bodies are really well tuned to gain weight and avoid losing weight, so, that's probably part of it.

And candy is freakin' delicious.
posted by kathrineg at 2:04 PM on October 13, 2009

Thirding adding some fat to the diet. Fat in does not equal fat out. I suspect that the recent "low fat" fad was some kind of conspiracy by the processed food industry to boost sales; there's no way they could possibly not have done the inside research.
posted by crapmatic at 2:36 PM on October 13, 2009

3rd low-carb, higher fat to kill sugar cravings dead.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:22 PM on October 13, 2009

Likely because you're in negative energy balance (actively losing weight) and because sweet things taste good and are a concentrated source of energy.

At the very least, your body probably wants to be at a stable weight. That weight may be higher or lower than where you're at presently.
posted by Ouisch at 3:57 PM on October 13, 2009

I have a sweet tooth too - I find no-sugar werthers and campino take care of it without the calories
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:57 PM on October 13, 2009

If you're doing a lot of cardio (running, etc) that can also fuel the desire for carbs/sugar, especially if you're eating a lower-carb diet. I have never managed to low-carb myself out of the desire for sugar the night after I run any sort of distance, and the solution for me is generally don't run so damn much, and indulge the craving on the rare occasion that I do. Note: this only works because it is rare.
posted by ch1x0r at 8:06 PM on October 13, 2009

I'm in a very similar situation as you. I don't know where you live, but where I am the grocery stores started stocking metric assloads of Halloween candy in the seasonal/special display areas starting early/mid September. Successfully leaving such a store without buying any becomes just that much harder.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:30 AM on October 14, 2009

I'm exactly like you. When I work out like I want to (1.5-2 hours of cardio, combining running/walking on the treadmill, push-ups, elliptical, free weights, situps and burpees, at least a half-hour of combined stretching, that sort of thing) I crave TONS of sugar. Especially at night. It's your body expecting two things:

1. You need to replace the calories you've lost by exercising (candy is the highest sugar and fat quick solution for this)
2. You need to eat a lot of carbs in preparation for a massive calorie burn

I'm not a nutritionist; this is based on my personal experience controlling my own weight through exercise between 3x and 6x per week for 10 years.

Eating the fruit signals your body that you are going to periodically snack on high-glycemic index foods. As far as your body's concerned, fruit = candy because you're eating it by itself and it's being digested very quickly.

Eating protein with carbs every time you eat something will significantly reduce the sugar craving. What I mean by this is, eating low-fat or low-sugar peanut or other nut butters, protein bars (the real ones, not the candy bar kind; if you don't know the difference, read the labels) or something like string cheese and an apple.

I've also found that if I eat something high-fiber for breakfast (high-fiber cereal, apples a piece of wholegrain toast and veggie bacon, eggs with steel-cut oatmeal) my sugar cravings and hunger throughout the day are significantly reduced.

Also: When are you eating? Are you eating 2-3 hours before your workout? If not, your body may be experiencing drastic blood sugar highs and lows.

Whenever I am forced to break my workout schedule for several days due to travel, illness or work, my sugar cravings drop to almost nothing. In fact, the idea of eating lots of sugar makes me nauseated (and I've had a sweet tooth since I have memories). The days I work out the most, if I haven't eaten properly beforehand I will begin fantasizing about sugar while I'm on the treadmill and have gone to the store to buy a bag of jelly beans on the way home from the gym.

Try the protein thing first, eat a couple hours (lightly) before your workout, drink a LOT of water; see if it helps. Cut out the fruit altogether for a week.

You might also try not working out for a week (it's hard) and see if the sudden sugar cravings go away. If so, it's your body trying to equalize to the massive and frequent calorie deficit. Adjust your workouts and your eating plan accordingly. Once you've been working out and eating well for a long time, you will intuitively know what works best to keep the candy cravings normal (minimal).
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:01 PM on October 14, 2009

do you have "cheat meals" a few times a week? You don't have to be in diet mode all the time to lose weight and be fit. Realistically, you're not going to go the rest of your life without having another candy bar, and it wouldn't really make a big difference if you had a couple a week.

If you eat 19/20 meals perfectly, even if you had a truly ridiculous cheat where you ate like 4000 calories in a meal, it's not like you'd gain a pound of fat. You can only absorb so many calories in a sitting, so I'd suggest you pick a few times a week (1-2) where you eat all the candy you want. It won't make a big difference in your diet as long as you keep it infrequent and you're eating healthy the rest of the time.

I feel that if you fully satisfy your cravings for junk a few times a week you won't constantly want it, compared to eating a little bit, not fully enjoying your cheat meals, and then wanting it all the time.
posted by I like to eat meat at 3:55 PM on October 14, 2009

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