Mini-Experiment: Eat Candy to Reduce Sugar Cravings?

by Charlotte on September 16, 2008 · 29 comments

Photo Credit: XKCD

Last week, a guest poster over at MizFit’s had an interesting diet tip. As I consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur of weird diet tips, this one fascinated me simply for it’s sheer incongruity. Sue, a bodybuilder who promotes clean eating, suggested:

15 minutes before lunch and dinner suck on a sucking sweet (not a lollipop) with sugar.The small amount of sugar in a sucking sweet will contribute to your sense of fullness – allowing you to eat moderately and still feel satisfied.

This little trick also helps not to eat while preparing the meal. I have two small children and if I am not eating with them I usually have a sweet in my mouth while I am feeding them to help me keep from tasting their food.

I’m not sure what Sue has against lollipops nor am I sure that eating sugar will “contribute to my sense of fullness” – most studies suggest the exact opposite – but for you, dear readers, I was willing to take the risk. And hey, any excuse to eat cherry Jolly Ranchers. I live a tough life, I tell you.

The Lesser of Two Evils?

My second son decided he wanted to make a special treat for our Monday night ritual of family home evening: double chocolate chip cookies. For those of you that don’t dare click through that link before lunch, these are rich chocolate cookies studded with semi-sweet chips. They are also loaded with the usual evil trifecta of butter, white flour and sugar. One “serving” (about 5 cookies) has 467 calories and 26 grams of fat. Mrs. Fields wishes she could do that kind of diabetic damage!

So, raise your hand if you can make cookies without eating an unholy amount of dough. Not me, that’s for sure. A licked beater here, a chocolate covered spoon there and before I know it, I’ve eaten Julia Childs. It wasn’t exactly as Sue had suggested but I figured the caloric damage from a Jolly Rancher had to be less than a gut-bomb of double chocolate cookie dough. It took me sucking two ‘Ranchers (50 sugared-up calories) to get the whole batch made and in the oven during which time I learned two important lessons:

1. I only like cherry and blue raspberry (abomination of nature that it is) Jolly Ranchers. Green apple makes me cough – seriously! – and grape tastes like cough syrup.

2. When a four-year old says he wants to “help” make cookies, he means eat chocolate chips out of the bag until the dough is ready and then make “snakes” that actually look a lot like turds – apparently a cookie making theme at our house.

The Results

I ate no cookie dough. Not a bite. And? I didn’t feel deprived. It was weird, I tell you! The cherry/blue raspberry sweetness was so overpowering (thank you HFCS!!) that I wasn’t even tempted to lick my fingers.

Although I must say the effect wore off quickly and after dinner I had 3 cookies. Probably should have stuck with the J. Ranch.

Anyone else have a weird diet tip that really works? Do you eat blindfolded? Or only on blue plates? Or use doll dishes? Or, as one of you readers quipped to me via e-mail “I eat whatever I want. I just do it naked. In front of the mirror.” (You know who you are!!) Hit me up in the comments. The person with the best tip wins a limited edition grape-and-apple-only bag of Jolly Ranchers.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

weelittleme September 17, 2008 at 4:19 am

We could be jolly rancher friends. I like the grape, green apple and watermelon but not the others. In general I tend to dislike most things that taste “red” (blue raspberry often tastes red… don’t ask.

LOL This is interesting. Without trying it I would be tempted to think it would be a terrible backfire since sugar tends to set me on a horrible spin out that can end days later. That said, hard sweets are not really my drug of choice in that area and I usually go for soft sticky or chewy things or chocolate if I’m going to freak out on sugar. I have to wonder what this would do in terms of insulin and therefore what it would do overall, including hours later. I wonder if it would work as well with those malitol sweets that they make for diabetics or is there something about the sugar intake that helps with it. I think I’ll keep this one in the back of my head for the next time I’m brave enough to buy and bag of hard candy.


Jessica September 17, 2008 at 4:56 am

I missed this article on MizFit, I think its a good suggestion to try out. I will be giving it a go but I wonder how much of it is psychological and how much is physical in terms of feeling full. The trick will be not eating the whole bag of lollies before the meal!


apyknowzitall September 17, 2008 at 5:00 am

I’ve heard duct tape works wonders. Assuming you don’t have a stuffy nose…


Cara September 17, 2008 at 6:00 am

Oh dear, I fear my method of control is horribly wasteful and yet it’s the only means by which I can exert any kind of self control at all (ie, none)…if I want le treat, and I often do, I throw out half before I start, because I’d never have the willpower to stop half way, nor could I save half for later, knowing the other half is there, waiting for me, taunting me, teasing me, calling my name, oh heavenly sweet…sorry, yes, what was I saying? All the starving babies in Africa, oh dear.


tokaiangel September 17, 2008 at 6:16 am

I was very intrigued by this tip when it was posted on MizFit, and LOVE the fact that you tried it while making cookies. It’s birthday season and as chief cake-maker I’m obliged to get out my mixing bowl, but I’m crying inside because I KNOW I’ll go wild with the cake batter. Could this be the answer?

My strange diet tip is probably not for everyone. I get VERY stressed when going to restaurants for meals because I’m normally starving by the time we eat and choose unwisely. However, as somebody who is a Cardio Freak, I find if I take a day off the burn and just go do a small weights session or something short and sweet, then I’m much less hungry come dinner-time. I’ll also have a light-ish lunch and then a more filling afternoon snack just before I go out (oatmeal with protein powder works well for me) then I’m not tempted to eat allll the fooood in the woooorld by the time we sit down.

TA x

TA x


Prof. Steven M. Platek September 17, 2008 at 10:41 am

Very cool idea.. will try and recommend to wife. Thanks.

When i am trying not to eat ‘food’ before dinner, I usually just drink insane amounts of alcohol (Lite alcohol, like miller light, that is) – that usually fills up my tummy so I am not even hungry any more and it creates this strange, loss of balance sensation, to which I immediately react by stopping any cooking from moving forward – i would not want to hurt myself for christ’s sake – then after about 6 more hours of ingesting my liquid dinner i usually pass out – so I think this adequately keeps me from eating too much… however, and maybe someone could explain this phenom, on some mornings I awake feeling like I have eaten my weight in pizza and/or chinese food and there are even remnants of take away in my apt, but I certainly have no recollection of doing such – so if I dont remember eating it – the calories dont count, right?

seriously though, the sweets idea if pretty rad. I usually try to eat something that is not all that flavorful and a full glass of water (or two) to create that full feeling while cooking.

Great post!


Colleen September 17, 2008 at 12:19 pm

My trick? I wish I had one! I usually don’t buy that many snacks, but then I go and make a chocolate cake or cookies and feel like that dessert is haunting me for the rest of the week.

“Eaaaatttt meeeee Colleeeeen!”
“Yoooouuuu knooooooow I’llllll beeee sooooooo yummmmmy!” (You have to say this with the cookie monster voice)

I always oblige.


CDlover September 17, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Why didn’t I think about this as I made SIX dozen peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal cookies last night?!! I absolutely love baking cookies more than anything, but more than that, I LOVE eating the dough. Gonna go buy some jolly ranchers at lunch (why can’t they just sell the cherry only?).

One thing I’ve found that works – and I know this seems pretty obvious – is to already have food in my belly. For example, I made the cookies last night after dinner, so it wasn’t as tempting to eat, say, 3 spoonfuls. I only had a little bit of dough and I was good.


Gena September 17, 2008 at 12:30 pm

I might have to try this next time I make cookies, since I only ever seem to be able to get half the number of cookies stated in the recipe. Not really sure where the rest of the dough goes….

I can absolutely see this working too keep someone from eating while prepping food, but I completely disagree with the notion that the candy will help someone feel full. Fat is needed for satiety, not sugar (or HFCS).

If you don’t want to overeat before going out to dinner or a buffet or the like, eat about an ounce of walnuts 20 minutes before. Once the fat hits the small intestine, it will stimulate the release of leptin, the “satiety hormone”, and you’ll feel full sooner.


Anonymous September 17, 2008 at 1:02 pm

My guess if it works is the sucking motion – I believe I have read at one time from a study that sucking on something triggers a hormonal release that causes one to feel satiated.


Kara September 17, 2008 at 1:04 pm

When we make cookies (which isn’t that often, so I should make 3 batches a day until I’m abundantly full!) I taste test so many — not the dough, but the warm cookies straight from the oven–that I don’t touch whatever’s left for as long as they last. And then, hypocrit mom tells her kids they can only have one. They’re going to call me on this some day. I don’t like Jolly Ranchers near as much as I like cookies.


Dr. J September 17, 2008 at 1:36 pm

Rather than sucking, I just knead a pillow like my cat! It’s very satisfying :-)

Nice and very interesting post!!

PS, I did my best to answer your flying question.


Godiva Girl September 17, 2008 at 1:42 pm

Oh, real easy…

Duct tape left a rash so the cookie maker is now my 14 yo dd. I take a power nap and she wakes me with ONE hot cookie and promises to hide the rest!

Actually, I reward myself for making good choices and splurge every few weeks or so… (Danish at Panera last night :) I find that I simply can’t eat as much as I used to and don’t need as big a serving to satify my desire. So, it has become a lifestyle change.

The suckie sweet wouldn’t work for me…I’m too impatient, would crunch it :(


Lethological Gourmet September 17, 2008 at 2:43 pm

I solve this problem by hardly ever baking! I definitely partake of the batter (especially what’s left in the bowl once the cookies are in the over – I know, raw eggs, raw flour, not good, whatever). So I only bake at Christmastime for cookies, but I makes LOADS of them for everyone.


Molly September 17, 2008 at 3:09 pm

I usually munch on carrots while I am baking (I am a bit odd though in that carrots are my favorite food) and that keeps my mouth busy and me out of the batter. It also helps that I am not much of a fan of chocolate and I am usually baking super chocolatey cakes for my chocoholic friends/family and it doesn’t tempt me much to taste it. My weakness is ice cream and that is why I don’t own an ice cream maker :-)


Sagan September 17, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Not going to lie, almost every time I make cookies I make them so that I can eat the dough. The cookies themselves? They’re the bonus at the end! Its the cookie dough that I’m really after.

I don’t really like hard candies all that much. And especially at this point, I think for me they’d just taste artificial and I’d be anxious about the amounts of nasty unpronounceable ingredients in them. I think I’d rather have the calories and fat and all that comes along with some delicious homemade cookies, even if they don’t have anything healthy about them.

But I do like Molly- when I’m hungry before a meal, I’ll snack on carrots. Or I’ll get a glass of milk, or sometimes an apple with PB2. Besides, if I have something in my mouth I like to munch on it. So I’d chew up that candy within seconds and then want more!


Quix September 17, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Yep, I would crunch them too. My teeth just go on autopilot when I’m not thinking. And the grape ones are the best (but I like the taste of cough syrup too, go figure)!

To be honest, sweets aren’t really my thing and other than a craving for something ooey and gooey about once a month, I’m satisfied with the occasional hershey kiss and a little soft serve when we hit the salad bar. I am one of those people that can eat the half cup of ice cream, half a cookie, or one candy out of the box of chocolates. Fruit is usually just as good or better unless I’m craving something specific.

When they find a diet tip beyond sheer willpower to keep me out of the potato chips when evil, evil people bring them into the house, let me know.


zandria September 17, 2008 at 3:45 pm

That’s interesting about the candy, but I bet something else would work just as well (and with even fewer calories), like peppermint gum.


GroundedFitness September 17, 2008 at 4:02 pm

hmm conflicting advice, gotta love it.

remember how experts say that drinking too much diet soda (or using too much splenda) can actually make you gain weight because even though the sugar is fake, your body thinks its real sugar increasing your appetite?

i dont really care either way, a candy isnt going to hurt you. i just know that when i eat sugar,all it does is make me want to eat more sugar.

Kelly Turner


azusmom September 17, 2008 at 4:02 pm

My trick for not eating cookie dough when I bake? Being Jewish.
That’s right! I WORRY. Always imagining myself getting salmonella poisoning and either having to go to the hospital or dying and leaving my kids without a mother.

Works every time.


SeaBreeze September 17, 2008 at 5:00 pm

I’ve tried the sucking sweet method for avoiding eating things that are really tempting, but unfortunately this just feeds my love affair with candy in general. I’ve found Mints help a fair amount because then I don’t want to ruin or mix that flavor with other things.

Send the green ones this way :D Mmmmm…


Allie September 17, 2008 at 5:38 pm

This is more of a junk-food tip…

If I’m eating trail mix, or MM’s, or any other sort of mixed food treat, I only eat the ones I like. This means I pick out only the almonds and cashews from the trail mix, and I leave all the orange and brown MM’s.

It drives my Mister crazy, but I figure why waste calories on something I don’t like?


Crabby McSlacker September 17, 2008 at 8:06 pm

So no Jolly Rancher substitute when making cookies ’cause I WANT my cookie dough.

But I definitely want to try this when going out to dinner. Whenever I’m faced with the pre-dinner bread/tortilla chip challenge I can’t resist. Perhaps with a rancher in my mouth (the candy, not an actual rancher; I’m not that kind of girl!) I could lay off the chips.


Judy September 18, 2008 at 1:51 pm

I’m a gum chewing freak as of late. Whenever I need to be done eating, I pop a piece of gum in my mouth. If I’m cooking something I don’t want to snack on, gum. It’s the only thing I use that is sugar-free (I despise artificial sweeteners usually, but can tolerate them in gum).

I also make cookies sometimes just for the dough. I once had a desperate urge for cookie dough, so I found an eggless recipe, and reduced it down to a small amount (made 1/4 batch or something), just so I could eat the dough. No baking at all!

But you know, now I just want a jolly rancher like it was crack. And with all the Halloween candy out in the stores already, it’s a strange form of torture. We already have a pack of mini-Kit Kat bars, and 2 different kinds of Reese’s in our cabinets.


Anonymous September 18, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Best tip ever – brush your teeth before you step in that kitchen. The taste of the toothpaste does not mix well with cookie dough.


butterfly September 18, 2008 at 9:38 pm

I usually chew on a really minty piece of gum, or eat an extremely strong mint. The taste takes forever to get out of your mouth, so anything that you want to munch on after will be tainted with mint after taste. Not too many things will taste so good after that.

There is a quote that I came across on a weight loss blog that stuck in my mind and is my crutch.

When I’m feeling like diving head first into a bag of chips, I remind myself of this: ” What you eat in private is what you wear in public”. It simply reminds me that in the end, it’s not worth it =)


RooBabs September 18, 2008 at 11:27 pm

Wow, I can’t believe it worked! Although I don’t know that it would work for me. I think I would spit out the Jolly Rancher and start shoving fistfuls of the dough into my mouth (or maybe not even get rid of the JR).

I don’t really have a tip, because I am the queen of tasting and licking while I cook (maybe that’s why these last 10 pounds won’t go away?). Sometimes I eat a few baby carrots or some string cheese before I start cooking, because it’s a healthy snack that fills me up just enough not to want to munch.

BTW, I’ve been meaning to add you to my favorites forever (first noticed you from Robin’s blog, but also see your comments everywhere). So I’m doing it right now (hope you don’t mind). Oh, and howdy to a fellow Mo (from a Utah Mo)! = )


Losing Myself February 27, 2009 at 3:19 am

Since I don’t bake cookies, or anything else these days. (not since hubby was diagnosed with diabetes) I don’t have the ‘eating cookie dough’ problem. I never cared for raw cookie dough anyway.

Best tip for ending a sweet craving? Eat a dill pickle. Really. It will make that sweet craving vanish. Otherwise, I chew sugarfree gum.

You can keep the JR’s, or send them to someone who would appriate them.


Anonymous April 12, 2009 at 3:26 am

Apple Jolly Ranchers make me cough, too! Strange.


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