Sweet Treats and Willpower: Beyond Willpower in Controlling Sweet Cravings

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

"Let's face it, most of us have a soft spot for sweet treats. I'm no exception with my big sweet tooth. The temptation of a tin of Quality Street or a packet of chocolate digestives is real, but restraint is key. Willpower, a frequent topic in my live Insta chats, is often misunderstood. Relying solely on willpower to resist chocolate is a recipe for failure" - Arthur Ashe


Here are some of my thoughts on snacking and some tips to overcome the temptation:


Don’t Buy Them!
Obviously if they are not in the house, you can’t eat them, so what about not buying them in the first place? Rather than facing some sort of emotional anxiety over them, don’t buy them.  More importantly, I don’t believe any of us want chocolate, biscuits, cake, or crisps, unless we’re hungry.  So, make sure you’re eating enough at mealtimes.  


Don’t be Hungry
If you aren’t hungry, you won’t want to snack on unhealthy foods. Please make sure you are eating enough. Everyone is a different shape and size, this means that it takes everyone a different amount of food to fill them up. For some, they made need half the suggested portion size and for others they may need 3 portions. If this is what it takes you to be full and stop you from being hungry from one meal to the next this is what I want you to do. Do not leave the table hungry, don’t leave it stuffed either, leave the table feeling comfortably full and then this should be enough to keep you full through to the next meal time. This is something you have to learn to measure yourself. As you lose weight, your stomach naturally will shrink in size and you will require a lesser amount of food to keep you full. Reassess your portion sizes throughout your weight loss journey. 


A number of people have suggested it relieves boredom and I can’t help but giggle at this.  I’ve timed it, it takes roughly 2 minutes to eat a KitKat.  How much boredom are you relieving?  I mean, you would take up more time if you just licked it, that may well take an hour and could easily relieve boredom, but I don’t believe eating a bar of chocolate is going to fulfil anybody mentally.  


I believe a lot of snacking eating is down to habit, yes you also may be hungry but we have already covered this. Most of the time snacking occurs during the evening. If this is something you do every day at the same time, this is now a habit. This is a habit that needs breaking, this is much easier for some than others and it depends how deeply ingrained that habit is into your life. Saying this, I still stick by the idea that if you don’t let yourself get hungry, you won’t have room for more and therefore you won’t have the will to snack on sweet treats.


Now I’m going to suggest something radical.  I’ve never mentioned it on GreggWallace.Health before but try this and see how it fits.  How about having the sweet treat as a reward?  Earning the right to have it.  Rather than have it and beat yourself up emotionally, earn the right to have it so you are guilt free.  Here’s the thing, stand on the scale, if you’ve lost 2lb, then reward yourself with a chocolate biscuit, how about that?  Do let me know if this works for you.  



I’ve really got to dislike this word, it conjures up an image that it’s something that is good for us, or a cheeky pleasure, something we should reward ourselves with. I hate that. They are not treats, they are traps, they’re the things that were partly or wholly responsible for making us overweight in the first place.

I think it would be safer to call them an indulgence. An indulgence definitely sounds guilty, doesn’t it? An indulgence is overdoing it, having too much of a good time. That believe me, I can easily understand. As opposed to treats, which may be chocolate bars, crisps, cakes, they are not treats, they are dangerous.

I’ve believed for a long time there is sometimes an imbalance with how we see certain foods. I can clearly see the instant gratification of a chocolate bar, it tastes good, I get that, but what I also see is danger. I see pounds of weight being added to my body, so when I see a chocolate bar, I know I have the ability to weigh up the positives and the negatives. For me, there is far too much in the negative column and these things don’t appear to be treats at all. In fact, at this time now in my life, I look at people eating them and honestly wonder why.


We have to get rid of the stuff that made us the size we are, that made us ultimately unhappy. We have to find new and real treats, things that we can really get stuck into, that are also good for us. Taking time out of your day just for you, to walk, meditate, read, listen to a podcast. These are real beneficial treats. Big juicy honey sweet mangos, bunches of seedless grapes, ripe juicy pears. These are treats. Treats that our bodies really crave and will really thank us for.


New approach to “treats” and “rewards”:

I want you to try something, I want you to try to reward success. It doesn’t matter what it is, but I think it’s a shame that your successes should pass by without celebration. If you’ve done well, if you lose weight, I don’t want it to seem like nothing. If you give yourself a reward, perhaps it will help to encourage more good work. I’m no phycologist, but it may bring about more positive feelings that will make you want to repeat.


Of course, it’s up to you what those rewards may be. Have a think about what it is that you enjoy, that you would like. I’m just going to chuck some examples up here and see if any of them work for you.


Each day if you’ve stuck to your plan religiously and haven’t been naughty at all, can you make some time the next day to do nothing? To lay on the sofa, to read a book, to go for a walk and listen to music, to go for a walk with a loved one, to take time out to phone a friend? With the weather changing, sometimes it’s nice just to stroll the streets or go to the park.

If you’ve lost weight that week, why not treat yourself to a bar of your favourite chocolate? Mix up your favourite cocktail, go the cinema. Whatever it is you want to do to treat yourself.

Set yourself some milestones. If you reach them, have a celebratory dinner, go away for the weekend, perhaps book that holiday. It’s your life, you make a list of the tings that are treats to you and reward yourself with each success. Turn these successes into triumphs that you celebrate. After all, this is not something mundane, this is your life and you’ve done great. Reward yourself.


Please don’t snack:

Snacking seems to be a big issue; it certainly was for me when I was overweight.  In the live chats that I have with you all, this does come up as an issue, again and again.  Some people say they just get bored and so they snack.  I do struggle to understand this, I’m not saying it’s not true, it’s just if you’re bored, how long is a bag of crisps going to occupy your mind?


There is of course, a very easy way to not snack at all, and that’s not have any snacks in the house.  In fact, let’s be a little bit more blatant here, if you’re buying them when you’re out shopping, you’re planning on eating them, right?  Would be best not to buy them in the first place, surely?


They are going to mess you up, these snacks.  I’m guessing they are going to be crisps or nuts or chocolate, possibly even cake.  None of these things are good for you.  They are all highly calorific and importantly, they won’t fill you up for very long, so you will be forced to reach for some more pretty soon. 

I still believe we snack when we are hungry, surely?  So, the way to cure the snacking issue is to not be hungry in the first place.  Please, please, please, fill yourself up completely with the recipes we give you.  Don’t leave the table until you are full up.


We don’t of course, provide you with any dessert recipes.  I’ve got a sweet tooth and I understand a craving for sweet things.  Believe me, I do.  And many of you say they don’t want to munch on fruit, it’s not the same.  Well here’s something that I learnt from Kat, our nutritionist.  Cinnamon to our taste buds can replicate the feeling of sugar, so let’s try this.  A bowl of chopped fruit, zero fat yoghurt across the top and then sprinkle it with cinnamon.  How’s that?  Try that, please.  Far, far better than a KitKat, some cheesy Quavers and a slice of Battenburg. 


Snacks and convenience

You really do have to see these things as the enemy, it’s this more than anything that causes so much harm. It’s the reason I firmly believe why we have such a weight issue in the UK today. Let’s hit them one at a time.


It’s become such a big part of our culture that we now think of it as a normal thing, but it’s incredibly damaging. What is a snack? Why would we need one? Is it there because we get hungry? If so, this is very simple, don’t be hungry! GreggWallace.Health tells you to eat three big meals a day. If you leave the table full up, why on earth would you need a snack? If it’s become a habit for you, this habit can be easily broken. Make sure you are full up. When the idea of a snack comes into your head, you can dismiss it because you know you are full. That’s the difference between belly hunger and brain hunger.


What a terrible name for something that makes you fat. How on earth is something unhealthy, a treat? Is a cigarette a treat to a smoker? Is whisky a treat to an alcoholic? How on earth can these things be seen as treats? I get that they taste good, I used to consume a lot of them, but you have to really see them for what they are. There must be better ways for you to get a reward than eating an expensive, rubbish snack on the sofa. Come on, you’re worth much more than this.


Meals in boxes that you slide onto an oven tray or pots of things that you put in the microwave are only convenient to people that don’t know how to cook. Once you know how to cook, you know that a fresh, easy to prepare meal is convenient. It’s all to do with knowledge, food knowledge and cookery knowledge. Nobody that knows how to cook ever uses a ready meal because they know how quick it is to cook. GreggWallace.Health has hundreds of easy to prepare meals.


Snacks cost money, convenience foods cost money, save money, look after your health, and turn your back on these expensive things that make you unhealthy.


My conclusion on “treats”

The subject of treats has come up on my live chats this week. It’s always intrigued me, it’s obviously a massive issue when it comes to weight gain or loss. I’ve discussed it with GreggWallace.Health members on my lives and I’ve come to some conclusions.


They seem to be, two types of so-called treats. One is the chocolate, the biscuits or the crisps on the sofa. The other one seems to be equally unhealthy takeaways.

I don’t snack on obesity bars sitting on the sofa and I don’t gorge myself on fatty takeaways. I don’t feel in any way. I’m missing out. Why are  these unhealthy things treats for some people, but not for me?


I’ve thought about this long and hard. So many people ask me what’s my treats? It’s always confused me. I don’t have some food that I consider normal and some food I consider treats. So why do I consider the fat stuff, unnecessary and something to be avoided , while other people consider them to be wonderful and a treat?

In discussion with long-standing members of GreggWallace.Health, I’ve come to this conclusion. It’s simple! The people eating the treats aren’t actually enjoying what they eat the rest of the time. That must be it !


I’m always confused when I’m asked about treats because I honestly enjoy every meal I have. I don’t consider some boring and some as treats.

In order to have a healthy relationship with food. You’ve got to be enjoying what you’re eating. The healthy food you’re choosing has to be enjoyable. As enjoyable as a greasy pizza or a fatty burger or even a chocolate some as treats.

In order to have a healthy relationship with food you’ve got to be enjoying what you’re eating. The healthy food your choosing has to be enjoyable. As enjoyable as a greasy pizza or a fatty burger or even a chocolate obesity bar! 

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Author: Katherine Bright MBANT, CNHC