5 Reasons You Want Something Sweet To Eat When You Are Full
Wanting to eat more when your stomach is full is a sign that you’re not fully giving your body what it needs.
How often do you face this problem?
You finish a meal or snack and you really want to eat something else, often something sweet like a cookie or a piece of chocolate.
What’s your first thought?
- I just finished eating! Why do I want to eat more?
- I shouldn’t eat something sweet!
- If I’m full, why do I want to eat more?
- I must be addicted to sugar! I’m totally satisfied but I still want a sweet treat!
- I’ll just drink a glass of water. I shouldn’t eat anything else!
When women ask me why they crave something sweet after every meal, the first thing I ask is:
Are your meals satisfying?
And before you answer, I don’t mean: does your stomach feel full at the end of your meals?
Satisfaction is only partially about having a stomach that is no longer empty. It’s so much more.
When I use the word ‘satisfying,’ I mean:
- Do your meals entice your eye, nose and taste buds?
- Are you able to take the time to notice the different tastes and textures of your food?
- Are all of your senses involved in your meals?
Satisfaction is a key part of learning to find joy in eating. Read more about satisfaction in my article, How To Discover The Satisfaction Factor with Food: Principle 6 of Intuitive Eating, here.
All too often, when women find themselves wanting to eat sweets (or other treats) after they are already full, it’s a clue that they aren’t:
- really getting satisfaction from their meals,
- paying attention to their meals; or
- truly allowing themselves full permission to eat treats.
Here are my top 5 tips to overcome wanting to end every meal with something sweet:
1. Eat foods you love every day.
Before you assume that I mean you need to start obsessively preparing all your meals to include a symphony of tastes and textures, please know that I’m a realist. Some of your meals are going to be reheated in the microwave or are going to be basic. The point is: most of the time, the food you eat should be food you actually like. Forcing yourself to eat foods because they are ‘healthy’ or part of a program is going to leave you feeling resentful, which leads you to wanting to soothe yourself with your comfort foods. (Aren’t those the foods you tend to want after your meals?)
2. Don’t fill up on ‘air foods.’
This one is a sneaky diet-culture trick: “If you feel hungry, eat foods that will fill you up without many (or any) calories.” Using water is a great example of this mentality, but there are many more: rice cakes, puffed wheat, cabbage soup, air-popped popcorn, etc. All too often, women will take these foods that have been glorified by a diet plan or influencer and they will eat tons of this food to fill themselves up. (Entire large bag of Skinny Pop, anyone?)
Now, if you enjoy any of those foods, by all means, eat them. But, add something to them to make it a real meal or snack. I, for one, love plain popcorn. It’s a great snack, full of crunch and fiber. But, to make it a satisfying snack that stays with me for a while, I’ll add a handful of nuts to my popcorn to make things more interesting and satisfying.
3. Eat regularly.
Everyone’s body is different, so I’m not going to put a list of meal times here. But, a general rule of thumb is to eat a meal or snack every 3-4 hours. Spacing your meals apart allows your body to feel some hunger, which makes your meals more enjoyable, but it doesn’t leave you so ravenous that you scarf down your food with zero memory of eating it!
4. Plan to eat treats.
Yes, you should plan to eat treats – whether that’s sweet or savory is up to you. If you routinely finish a meal and want a piece of chocolate, how often are you allowing yourself fully to eat chocolate? And no, the binge at the kitchen counter while the rest of your family is in the other room is not really allowing yourself to eat the chocolate!
Did you know that binges are pretty common among women who restrict food? Eating a large quantity of a food so quickly that you barely taste it, while you hide in a room alone, if often referred to as a binge. Sometimes you might even hide your binge foods from the rest of your family (a bag of candy way in the top of the kitchen cabinets, for example). Binges of this sort don’t necessary mean that you have an eating disorder, but they are a clue that your body isn’t getting all the food it needs. Women often feel so much shame about these eating episodes. The key to overcoming them is working with a nutrition professional.
Banishing foods you love only makes you obsess about them more. If you regularly eat these foods, you’ll learn that they’re really no different from other foods, and you won’t find yourself craving them anymore.
Bottom line: It’s totally ok to eat these foods; pull up a chair and eat them out in the open when you do.
5. Avoid distracted eating.
When you multi-task while eating, you miss out on so much, which leads to you always feeling like you’re taste buds are missing something. When you eat while working, watching TV or reading your phone, you might find your plate empty, your stomach full, and very little memory of the eating experience. That’s a recipe for your taste buds wanting more.
If the thought of eating an entire meal without distraction is too much, could you commit to your first 3 bites without the TV, computer or phone? You’ll be amazed at what you find if you keep it up for a week!
For a deeper discussion of distracted eating, check out my article Put That Phone Down! Focus on Distracted Eating.
Wanting to eat something sweet when you’re already full is so common. Really, I see it every day, and I used to have the same problem. You can overcome wanting to eat past fullness by committing to use the tips above.
If you find yourself regularly eating while working or watching TV, this is distracted eating. Distracted eating takes away so much from your eating enjoyment and makes you more likely to soothe yourself with sweets.
If you’d like some help working on your distracted eating habit, download my Distracted Eating Workbook today. It gives you action steps and 4 weeks of checklists to so that you can to build a habit of eating with awareness.
Kelly Abramson MS, RD is a dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor who works with clients in Alexandria, VA and virtually via telehealth. She guides women as they break free from dieting to find joy in food and their bodies. Kelly blogs regularly at NpowerYou.com and has created a free e-book for download, “7 Steps to Overcome Stress Eating.”