3 Stupid-Easy Ideas to Satisfy When You’re Craving Sweets

An epiphany for me has been that, as a person with hypothyroidism, I really SHOULDN’T be on a very low-carb diet. More than most people, hypothyroid people need a certain level of carbohydrate to aid in the conversion of T4 to T3 so it’s usable. That’s a process that’s already impaired in my body, and I don’t need to get in the way of it more, thinking I’m doing something good for myself and trying to conform to what “the experts” say I should do.

What I have experienced with the times I’ve tried to do anything very low-carb is that I’m an absolute zombie, and that’s not really what we’re going for, right?

An aha! moment came, though, was when I realized that that need is part of why I gravitate towards sweets like a moth to a flame. My body senses that I need carbs and that I’m in deprivation mode (although that deprivation might be of protein or fat just as well as carbohydrate). When my tank is low in whatever way, my body wants that quick shot in the arm. It wants to feel better fast. And it senses that the coke or ice cream will indeed make me feel better fast. People talk about feeling so awful when eating badly, but I think that’s part of my problem: I don’t feel awful–at least not right when I do it. As a more systemic trend, yes, but right when I do it, I actually feel an intense relief and and even maybe a momentary bit of euphoria. I think that’s because my “right now” needs are getting met.

Here’s the thing though: I could meet my needs for carbohydrates in another way that doesn’t also come with a biological tax.

The way I’m choosing to meet those needs when I eat sugary things, bread, pasta, chips, crackers, and other simple carbohydrates comes with a definite downside down the road: diabetes, liver problems, continued thyroid problems, dental cavities, depression, and more, some of which I already experience. Few people experience those things when meeting their carb needs through vegetables, certainly, or even through moderate intake of potatoes, yucca, plantain, and sweet potato.

Secondly, if I’m proactive about it, I don’t back myself into a corner where I feel desperate for the quick jolt. When I let myself go hungry completely, or when I don’t feed myself the things I need to feel truly satiated–saturated fat and protein–then I get wild-eyed, weak, and sapped of energy, leaving me vulnerable to bad decision because I need to regain my energy quickly.

So the solution is to think a bit ahead and not neglect myself by postponing a meal too long or by not having enough fat and protein and to realize that while carbs are vital and necessary, there’s a smart, healthy way to get them that won’t cause collateral damage.

Once I’ve gotten myself into a jam, I’m usually so sapped of energy that I can’t even think straight, and I certainly don’t have the energy to prepare something that would truly nourish me. So it’s important to keep on hand a few things that meet this criteria but are extremely easy to pull together on a moment’s notice. (I also love to have a go-to list for what to pick up at the grocery store, so that if I’ve been out and about without eating for too long, I don’t reach for the candy bar at the checkout aisle or drive through a fast-food line.

Olive Oil-Smothered Lubneh with Veggies

Lubneh is a Middle Eastern milk product that is somewhere between yogurt and cream cheese, with a wonderful, pillowy texture. Unlike cream cheese, it spreads easily straight out of the fridge. It’s a little tangy and definitely lends itself more to savory flavors. The traditional way of eating it is to spread a bunch in a thin layer on a plate, drizzle olive oil all over it, and then sprinkle salt, pepper, oregano, and minced garlic on top. Plant a few olives near the center for garnish and sprinkle with a little parsley, if you like, and you’re groovy. The virtue of this dish is that it’s gives you two kinds of healthy fats at once. Plus, it gives you an excuse to eat fresh garlic! (If you don’t like that, just eliminate it. But seriously, if you don’t like garlic, we can’t be friends. Seriously.)

The traditional “vehicle” to get this stuff into your belly it, of course, pita bread. But never fear! Cucumber rounds and strips of bell pepper make great, tasty shovels as well. If you like celery or baby carrots, they could work, too. Eating a massive plate of lubneh always satisfies me and is easy enough to prep that I can fathom making it, even if I’m running on fumes.

Nuts & Apple

Nuts are not my favorite thing. It’s not that I hate them, but when I eat them, it’s more in the way that people take their vitamins. Not with a lot of relish. I was heartened to read that an ideal serving of Brazil nuts is actually just 4 or 5 nuts. No wonder I don’t usually want more. Maybe you’re a nut lover or maybe not. When you’re woozy with hunger, I can’t promise nuts will make you feel instantly awesome the way a soda might. But eat as many as you’re body seems to direct you to (maybe a handful, maybe somewhat more) and give it 10 minutes. I think you’ll find you’re tided over, even if you don’t feel a dramatic shift.

Apples are a great companion for nuts because you’ll get a little sweetness and a little sugar, but it’ll come wrapped in a lot of fiber so it doesn’t hit your bloodstream all at once. Plus, apples are very portable, so you can throw them in your purse or the car for when you’re on the go.


I feared cured meats for a long time, but there’s evidence that we really needn’t fear the nitrites used in the curing process. Certainly, some nitrates are better than the damage done by long-term dependency on sugar instead. Animal protein can be tricky to get without a lot of cooking. Keeping a cured meat like pepperoni or prosciutto on hand in the fridge can give you some quickly.

Brie or Goat Cheese

Some cheeses pack a powerful punch of fat in small portions. Brie and goat cheese are two delicious cheeses that are much higher in fat than cheddar or Monterrey jack. You usually don’t have to have a lot to feel satiated. All real cheeses make good snacks. If you’re looking for something you can take with you, provided it won’t sit out for a very long time, consider some of the laughing cow cheeses.

Yogurt with Fruit

Yogurt is a great, satisfying snack, but I personally haven’t gotten used to having it salty or without so much as a drop of honey. What I have found makes it sweet and palatable enough it to put some strawberries or other fruit in it. We usually keep some frozen strawberries on hand for smoothies anyway. Those don’t go bad and can be had year-round. I like to pop a few in the microwave to thaw them just enough, and the juice that comes out is nice when it distributes throughout the yogurt–though fresh strawberries are just as good. (I know, microwaves have their drawbacks, but one problem at a time for me.)

Canoli without the Shell

Ricotta is an alternative to yogurt that’s denser and creamier. It pairs great with some chopped pistachios, a little bit of 80%+ dark chocolate and a bit of vanilla. It’s like a little piece of Italy–only Italy is covered in carbs and this isn’t!


Get yourself a pack or two. Broil them for about 10 minutes. Keep them in the refrigerator. Insert into your face. Need I say more?

Guacamole & Veggies or Jicama “Fries”

Again, the problem with guac (as with many dips) is not the avocados, which turn out to be great for you and very satisfying. It’s what you use to get it into your mouth (usually corn chips). I admit, there is something lacking in the crunchy department with this, but a bell pepper or a piece of jicama still gets the good stuff in your tum and tastes good. There are paleo chip options, but those require prep, and we’re going for the completely lazy, no-think-ahead options in this post.


If you, like me are thinking “Step into a Slim Jim!”, I’m here to tell you, jerky can be so much more. I have never been overcome with love for jerky, but a few years ago, I noticed Krave jerkies at the store, and I really like them. This comes with a disclaimer, though, that Krave is NOT sugar-free. You’ll get about 10 g of sugar in every ounce of jerky, so weigh your options. Way better than a soda, but especially if you’re in detox mode, sugar is still sugar. Taht said, they are delish. If you want to get into the realm of making your own, the Krave flavors could be a source of inspiration, but again, this post is all about stupid easy option.

Peanut butter Banana Milk Fortified with Coconut Oil

As I said, I don’t usually crave nuts, but lately, I’ve been wanting peanut butter. I found an inexpensive brand with no sugar or any ingredients other than, uh…peanuts. Although Laura Scudders’ gets a layer of oil on top that some people might find less than ideal for sandwich-spreading, I’ve been dumping two large spoonfuls in a shake with a cup or 2 of milk, a banana, and a handful of ice. With the right coconut oil, this won’t taste like coconut but will get you some wonderful medium-chain fats, which will also further satiate you and up your calorie content for the day. (I’m not much for calorie counting, but I do know I’m aiming for about 60% of calories from fats other than trans or polyunsaturated fats–so, saturated, medium-chain, and monounsaturated is what I’m going for–and I know this boosts me in the fat department.) Something to keep in mind with this is that a banana is pretty high-carb, so you have to weigh for yourself what else you’ve eaten lately. If you already had a sweet potato for lunch and 6 apples, this is probably not your best choice, but if your other eating has been mostly veggies, meat, and fat, a banana shouldn’t stall weight loss or otherwise hurt your health.

Sugar-Free & What Changed for Me

When it comes to reaching for your ideals, there is no substitute for having that someone in your life who sets the example and inspires you.

For quite some time, I haven’t been where I would like to be in terms of health and, as an offshoot of that, appearance. To be honest, despite having a lot of knowledge about nutrition and health, I had kind of thrown in the towel when it came to actually acting on that information.

I have a number of health issues that I’ve been sticking my head in the sand about. I’ve felt incapable of making change. I always intend to do better and then, the next day, I find myself back doing the very thing I know does not serve me best but which serves me in that moment. Buying that Dr. Pepper, staying up late into the night, or whatever it happens to be. How’s that for being a slave to your cravings?

Well, this past week, for the first time in a long time, I’ve been able to change that—and to do so in a way I’m feeling is sustainable—and I’m so excited to share with you about it.

Hello, my name is Michelle, and I’ve been sugar-free for 7 days. No Dr. Pepper, no Starbuck’s chai lattes, not even fruit juice or that sneaky little sugar in ketchup and the like. The only sweet I’ve had has been a little bit of fruit.

What made the difference?

For one, I’ll be completely honest: I’m not liking the mirror lately, even less than usual. I know that’s not popular to admit to these days because of the whole movement against body shaming and everything, but these feelings exist and I think there needs to be a safe space to acknowledge them. I’m getting a little older, and I haven’t been feeling like the person I see in the mirror really reflects who I am anymore. I know I have to come to terms with the fact that sooner or later, I will age, and that I must cultivate true beauty in my heart. But on another level, I think it’s okay to be a little dissatisfied sometimes, when it’s within reason and well-founded. It can an inner alarm bell that prods you toward better health. Maybe I simply reached my threshold.

But frankly, that’s happened before without there being something to catapult me from “I want to change” to “I feel I’m capable of changing.” Without the second factor, perhaps I would still be sitting around simply dissatisfied but not taking action about it.

The second thing that happened was that a good friend posted her photos after doing the Whole 30. She looks amazing! What’s more is she suffers from thyroid disease, like me, one of the things I always let stand in the way of my success. It got my wheels turning. At that time, she said she didn’t know how much she’d lost because she hadn’t been on the scale, but a few weeks later, she said that after 56 days, she’d lost 20 pounds.

Twenty pounds. That’s basically my goal weight, so that number really hit home. I think that’s when I started to say to myself that maybe it really was possible and worth the sacrifice to not only lose the weight but all the other health improvements that come with changing how you eat and getting more active. If she could do it, maybe I could do it, too.

Learning to Respect What Works for Me

I would call this “listening to your inner dieting voice,” but my inner voice says to eat ice cream…

Back in January, I asked for the 21-Day Sugar Detox for Christmas and set about doing a detox. It stunk. In the past, I had experienced the initial few days of no-fun withdrawals and then they were over. This time, they continued for Two. Weeks. At which point I tapped out and began my REtox.

Upon seeing my friend’s success, I looked into the Whole 30, and it’s about the same as the strictest level of 21DSD. I had only been doing the easiest one, where dairy and gluten-less grains (like rice) are still allowed. Given the level of deprivation I felt with 21DSD last time around, I’m pretty sure it’s a bad idea to try something more restrictive. So I don’t choose to do either of those programs right now.

Instead, I’m adopting an approach that is less rules-based and more common sense, and I’m taking one step at a time.

Registered dieticians will tell you to get 45-65% of your calories from carbs, 20-35% from fat, and 10-35% from protein. Fat, particularly saturated fat, has been vilified. Reading Nourishing Traditions and later, blogs like bionutritionist Chris Masterjohn’s blog Cholesterol and Health, have really helped me to see what a myth that is. Since, more and more respected mainstream sources have come out with information that saturated fat is not connected to disease after all. Many people believe the target range for fat should actually be more like 40-60% of calories, particularly saturated fat! And people like Gary Taubes have helped me see that the calories-in-calories-out theory of weight gain and loss just doesn’t pan out.

So many people are having success with lifestyles like Paleo, Whole 30, and 21DSD (which are all low-carb, no-processed diets). Yet one concern for me is that lowering carbs too much can actually have a very counterproductive effect for thyroid patients because our bodies use carbs to help us convert thyroid hormone. I believe this has been a problem for me and a wall I’ve run up against when trying to stick to other diets. Paleo guru Mark Sisson recommends keeping carbs under 80 g, and under 50 g, if you’re trying to lose weight. Yet Chris Kresser warns that hypothyroid people should keep their carbs a bit higher at 15-30%.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve never been likely to become a calorie counter, and I’m not going to start now, but I do think it helps to have a general idea of what you should aim for, to help you know what a day of meals might look like or how often you might be able to have a bit of rice.

My Personal Eating Plan

So here’s what I’ve settled on for myself. Now that I’m looking at it, it’s actually a 21DSD with no restrictions on fruit.

  • Aim for around 1850 calories, but not count calories religiously, just ballpark it.
  • About 25% carbs, 15-20% protein (as desired), 55-60% fat
  • Absolutely NO sugar. No sodas, ice cream, candy, added sugar in sauces and dressings, fruit juice, and for now, even honey
  • Eat fruit of all kinds in moderation
  • Strive to get a lot more fat and protein in, and reach for these when I’m flagging or getting cloudy-headed between meals
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep
  • Not sweat, for now, the fact that I can’t afford grass-fed meats
  • Include beans and lentils
  • I’m already gluten-free, so continue with that, but within my allotted carbs (about 116 g, based on my weight, activity level, and body fat percentage), try to get the bulk of them from vegetables and fruits, starches like sweet potato, yucca, plantain, and a little potato
  • Not worry too much about starchy vegetables, as long as I’m pretty close on the ballpark carb count
  • Allow myself brown or white rice or quinoa once or twice a week, but I’m still not sure corn is such a great idea
  • Avoid caffeine for now

Y’all, I’m so excited and proud of myself. With the exception of a slightly bumpy first two days (made better by some fruit), this week went great, and I’m feeling able to keep going. What eating plan has worked for you? Do you have any go-to tips for sticking to a healthy eating plan? What was your “Aha!” moment that enabled you to take action for better health or weight loss?