How to Satisfy Sweet Tooth After Bariatric Surgery

Secret to success: Learn how to satisfy sweet tooth in a healthy way instead of wishing sweet cravings would just go away.

You prioritize protein, avoid bread, pasta and rice like the plague and snack on fruits and vegetables throughout the day. You follow all the bariatric diet guidelines “to the T” only to be undermined by sugar cravings that come on so strong you can’t help but plow through a tub of ice cream, a sleeve of cookies, or a stash of chocolate. You then vow to deny your sweet tooth the next time it raises its ugly head. Sound familiar?

You may wonder why your sweet tooth is even an issue anymore after bariatric surgery. Wasn’t it supposed to go away?! The truth is… sweet cravings may subside or disappear in the early stages after surgery. BUT, even if they do, cravings don’t necessarily stay away forever. 

Accept that sweet cravings happen. Learning how to MANAGE them vs resisting them is key. Here's how....

Satisfy Sweet Cravings Without Sugar

Craving something sweet, but still want to eat healthy? Here's how to satisfy sweet tooth with real, whole, healthy foods instead of processed, packaged treats full of sugar:

  • Banana: Slice and spread with almond butter. Sprinkle with shredded coconut
  • Date balls: remove pits, soak in hot water for 10 minutes, then blend in food processor to make “date paste.” Shape into balls, then roll in chopped pistachios, walnuts, or shredded coconut. Freeze 15 minutes.
  • Broiled grapefruit. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Fruit smoothie made from plain nonfat Greek yogurt blended with frozen berries.

Or Try:

  • Baked (or microwaved) apple: Sprinkle with apple pie spice.
  • Baked (or microwaved) pear: Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Baked (or microwaved) sweet potato: Top with a smidgen of almond butter or tahini and sprinkle with cinnamon. (Yes, you read that right! Sweet potatoes are sweet! Plus they keep you full for a long time so you won’t experience sugar cravings later in the day.)

Don't Fear the Big Bad Banana!

Don’t be scared of the so called “sugar” in fruit. I’ve never met anyone in over 30 years of being a dietitian who is overweight from eating fruit! Experience how to satisfy sweet tooth with a banana...not a banana split.

Fruit is full of fiber and water which helps fill you up, so you ‘re never at risk of overeating it. Can you remember a time when you ate 2-3 apples or oranges in one sitting? I highly doubt it!  

How to Satisfy Sweet Tooth in an Instant: Quick Fruit Snacks

  • Medjool date: remove pit, stuff with 1 pecan or almond or a little almond butter
  • Tangerines/cuties
  • Cara Cara oranges (they’re soooo good and sweet!)
  • Slice an apple and sprinkle with cinnamon

AND If you plan ahead:

  • Frozen grapes
  • Frozen banana slices

How to Satisfy Sweet Tooth with Fruit Desserts

Let’s be honest. You may not want to eat a “boring” piece of fruit when you’re craving ice cream or cookies.

A trick is to make fruit look like a familiar dessert, so your brain thinks you’re having something decadent. “Nice cream,” “yogurt bark,” “watermelon pizza,” or fruit popsicles are a few ideas. See my Pinterest Fruit Dessert board for more.

How to Satisfy Sweet Tooth Using Seasoning

Cinnamon and vanilla are two great flavors that can help satisfy sweet tooth because they make you think you’re eating something sweet:

  • Add vanilla extract to plain nonfat Greek yogurt. Optional: stir in berries
  • Sprinkle apple slices with cinnamon
  • Slice ½ banana, spread with a thin layer of pb and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Decaf coffee with added cinnamon or cinnamon stick

How to Satisfy Sweet Tooth with Tea: Hot or Cold

I’m not talking about “sweet tea,” sorry.

Vanilla and Cinnamon. Remember these two flavors can satisfy sweet cravings, so why not seek out flavored teas like: Caramel Vanilla, Cinnamon Stick, Sweet Cinnamon Spice, Cinnamon Orange, Cinnamon Apple Spice, Vanilla Chai, Cinnamon Vanilla, French Vanilla, Apricot Vanilla Crème, Vanilla Chamomile, Caramel Vanilla, etc., etc., etc.!

Just start googling and you’ll see the vast variety of vanilla and cinnamon tea options out there.

Dessert Flavored Teas are another favorite I like to suggest. Simply search the term and you’ll see flavors like Butterscotch Blondie, Glazed Lemon Loaf, Vanilla Bean Macaron, Peach Cobbler, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Hazelnut, Strawberry Cheesecake, Peppermint Bark, Caramel Apple, and Blueberry Muffin flavors to name a few.

Matcha Tea. This is my personal favorite and how I satisfy my sweet tooth.  I especially like vanilla matcha or chocolate match. Matcha tea is ground tea leaves (vs steeped tea leaves), so it’s thicker. It takes some getting used to. I personally like the thicker texture when I’m trying to drink tea in lieu of eating something. It’s a little “heartier.” Try some!

It's Not Just in Your Head

If you feel like you’re “addicted to sugar,” it’s not just in your head. There is some REAL physiology going on in your brain that causes it!

Sugar begets sugar cravings. In other words, eating excess sugar repeatedly, elevates a hormone (dopamine) that activates the pleasure/reward center in your brain the same way drugs do.

The more you eat sugar, the more intense the sugar cravings become. That’s why it’s so hard to stop eating sugar and you have “withdrawal” symptoms when you try.

Immediately following surgery, it will be easiest to resist high sugar foods and this will help you “detox” from sweets. Remember however, that while cravings for sugar may fade over time, they may never completely go away.

So it’s important to train yourself to satisfy sweet tooth in a healthier way to keep the sweet monster at bay.

If you fall back into old habits and start to satisfy sweet cravings with high sugar foods, sugar addiction can and will return with a vengeance and can undermine your long-term success.

You’ve go this!!! Decide you’ll take control of your sugar cravings rather than letting them control you!

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