Sweet Dreams – How to Satisfy Your After-Dinner Sweet Tooth

Sweet Dreams – How to Satisfy Your After-Dinner Sweet Tooth

Oct 25, 2023Tori Sajovec, RD, LD

What if there could be a way to have your cake and eat it, too? Hy-Vee registered dietitians believe you can savor something sweet and feel your best by following some essential tips. Doing so lets you see how to skip the food guilt and satisfy your hunger in the evenings. There is also an optimal time during the day to enjoy your dessert for increased energy, improved blood sugar control, and better sleep. 


One may wonder if it is best to avoid sweets altogether. However, we know restrictive diets statistically are likely to fail or even backfire. When we restrict, the brain tends to focus more on wanting what is put off limits. As dietitians, we believe food should be enjoyed and savored, and all foods can fit on our plates – including sweets. We want to promote eating without guilt. We believe in both eating for health and enjoyment. We also know a few practical tips and tricks for the most optimal timing of sweets that can benefit health. For many, this may be a more realistic meet-in-the-middle approach.


So, when is the best time to eat sweets? The best time to eat something sweet is after a balanced lunch or dinner, after eating fiber from vegetables and adequate protein and fats. The fiber, protein and fat in your stomach will slow digestion and prevent the sweet food from spiking your blood sugar as high as it would on an empty stomach. Plus, you won't feel restricted since you know you can still have sweets. Instead, when a craving is calling, setting aside the sweet to enjoy after your next balanced meal is easy. If you are used to snacking before bed, try moving up that snack to fall directly after dinner.


Snacking before bed is super common, especially since it can be a time when cravings kick in. But there are better times to eat something sweet. Eating sweets before bed is more likely to spike blood sugar. Between the blood sugar spike and your digestive tract having to work overnight, eating before bed can disrupt sleep. One symptom of a blood sugar spike followed by a crash during the night is waking up sweaty and with a pounding heart. To avoid this, try the following tips. 


To set yourself up to be satisfied with one portion of something sweet, make half of your dinner plate vegetables. Try doubling up on vegetables at the start of your meal. Enjoy a salad and a cooked vegetable, then move on to the protein on your plate, and end the meal with your sweet food as dessert. The fiber from the healthy food, such as vegetables and the protein from your meal will help provide satiety, so you won't even have to think much about the "portion control" of the dessert. You will be surprised to see how satisfied you feel with a few bites of something sweet at the end of a balanced meal. This will come more intuitively if you first fill up on vegetables and protein. 


With an adequate-sized balanced dinner, you may be surprised that you do not need a snack in the evening before bed. However, if you notice yourself feeling hungry later at night, try choosing a more protein-rich snack rather than something sweet. Some healthy snack ideas are a handful of nuts, string cheese, Greek yogurt, peanut butter and celery, a protein shake, a glass of water or a cup of tea. The goal is to help you fall asleep quickly without any hunger pains while also avoiding a stomach that is feeling too full. Notice if you are experiencing hunger versus reaching for something out of habit or to cope with emotions like stress, boredom, or feelings of sadness. 


One of the most common comments from customers is they feel extreme hunger and cravings in the evening if they go all day without eating much. Eating a balanced breakfast and a balanced lunch can help you be more in control of your cravings later in the day. For breakfast, choose something low in sugar with a good source of protein. Try to find something that keeps you feeling satisfied for about 4 hours. Research has found that by avoiding sugar and staying balanced at breakfast, you can enjoy dessert later in the day, such as after dinner, and stay more balanced then! 


Connect with your local Hy-Vee dietitian on our virtual nutrition services platform. To learn more, head to https://www.hy-vee.com/health/hy-vee-dietitians/default.aspx and schedule a complimentary Discovery Session with a Hy-Vee dietitian. We offer various services to help you meet your weight loss goals, including one-on-one consultation packages, personalized menu plan programs, virtual nutrition store tours and more.


The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

About the Registered Dietitian       

Tori Sajovec RD, LD, received her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics with a minor in English from Iowa State University. From there, her passions took her to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she completed her 10-month dietetic internship program through Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. As her knowledge of food and nutrition grew, so did her desire to educate customers and clients on their overall well-being. Her goal as a dietitian is to make health and wellness an insightful and enjoyable lifestyle for all.

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