The Cheap and Simple Hack That Helped Me Curb My Lunchtime Sugar Cravings

My sugar cravings hit hard after I finish my lunch, sometimes to the point of distracting me for the rest of the afternoon. Seriously. Picture me sitting there counting down the hours until I can go home and have a bowl of cereal. Yes, there are candy stashes around the office, and yes, I could go grab a KitKat and address the thing by just eating the sugar. But I'm rarely able to stop after just one candy bar, and the feast that ensues will leave my stomach aching until I go to bed that night. Even if I do stop, the sugar rush deflates my productivity. Once the initial hyperness fades, all I want to do is curl up under my desk and sleep.

I need something that'll tide me over for a few hours, at least until I'm hungry enough for my midafternoon snack. Because that's the thing: when I start craving sugar after lunch, I'm not that hungry. I just want to taste something sweet.

I read an article a few months ago where the writer satisfied her sweet cravings by brushing her teeth right after a meal. The thinking is that, first of all, simply brushing your teeth discourages you from eating for a while. I get it, because who wants to brush their teeth three or four times in a day? At the same time, the minty taste of toothpaste kind of cleanses your palate, clearing the taste of food off your taste buds and, by extension, out of your mind. The mint is also just a little bit sweet, which addresses the part of your brain that's demanding a sugary taste.

I decided to try a variation of this to address my own craving, but instead of brushing my teeth, I popped in a mint. Yep, just a regular old Altoid. At worst, I figured it would freshen my breath a bit before I hit up the candy bowl. After a few weeks of testing this out, I've found that it also has the same craving-calming effects as the toothpaste hack. The clean, minty taste is just sweet enough to appease my sugar craving, and it's strong enough to wake me up after a big lunch. I also like that the mint takes a while to disintegrate in my mouth; a downside of eating candy or cookies is that they're gone so fast, I feel like I need one (or several) more just to get the full flavor. (You could also try chewing gum to get that same long-lasting effect, but I prefer mints because the flavor doesn't fade over time.)

This isn't a groundbreaking discovery, but if you struggle with your sugar cravings like I do, every little tool can help. I use this when I've just finished lunch and can tell that, OK, my body isn't actually hungry — I just feel like eating. Popping in a mint sates that need for a sweet taste and helps me avoid the uncomfortable, overfull sensation that comes after I've eaten more than I needed to. It's also simple, cheap, and painless to try: just stash a tin of mints in your desk or backpack, and you're good to go.