Why You Crave Sweet Food After Eating a Meal

Summer is for Apple Pie and Unicorn Birthday Cakes

Recently I talked to my friend who told me she was at a BBQ earlier and she ate a lot of food. She’s trying to lose weight, but now she’s craving something sweet,  so she’s making an apple pie.

Does this happen to you too? You crave sweet food after eating a meal. You know apple pie is not going to help you lose weight, either is your niece’s unicorn birthday cake, so why do you eat it anyway?

Let’s break it down. This is a solvable problem.

What did my friend have for breakfast that day? Pancakes.


What’s Really Happening to You?

Let’s say you have pancakes for breakfast. Pancakes are usually made from white flour, which raises your blood sugar quite high.  Your body then wants to keep your blood sugar high.

Then you go to a BBQ where you eat a lot more food, my friend was trying to be healthy and eat grilled chicken. This generally doesn’t have a lot of sugar in it. So probably you’ll keep eating and eating and not feel satisfied.

Then you’ll think to yourself why aren’t you satisfied? It’s because you’re craving something sweet and then you’ll eat pie or cake too. Even though you’re not hungry and you’re trying to lose weight.


What Can You Do About It?

You have two options:

  1. Don’t eat pancakes for breakfast. Eat something low in sugar, for example, an egg white omelet or wheat toast with avocado.
  2. You’re eating pancakes. Hopefully, this is because it’s one of your cheat meals. Your goal then is to keep your blood sugar levels relatively stable.
    • Make a plan to have fresh fruit to eat about 3-4 hours after you eat pancakes.  Your blood sugar peaks for most of you 2 hours after you eat a lot of sweet food. You’ll start craving sweet food again maybe 3-4 hours after you eat it when your blood sugar level is going down. You should test out the timing as it varies person to person.
    • The plan is if you have fruit before you go to the BBQ then you won’t eat a crazy amount of food that won’t satisfy you. Ideally, you would eat a normal one serving of food at the BBQ. Then you will stop eating because you’re full and feel satisfied.
    • Also, plan for the fact that 3-4 hours after you eat your blood sugar is going to start going down again.  This is when you ideally eat more fruit. Less ideally a few bites of unicorn birthday cake or apple pie. I know it’s hard to eat just a few bites. Try to share it with someone else.


Why Is This Important to You?

Because you might think this has something to do with your self-control. It probably has more to do with your body’s blood sugar levels. It’ll be a lot easier for you to lose weight and stay fit if you pay attention to this. Otherwise, you’ll be frustrated about what you think is your lack of willpower or discipline.  

Want to learn more about losing weight with science-backed advice? Sign up and get my free guide Lose Weight and Get Fit Without Cooking or Calorie Counting and start losing weight this month.

Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

You may have heard about various celebrity diets. Lately, it seems like everyone is into intermittent fasting. Should you try it too?

For most people, the answer is no.


Who Should Try It?

If you’re eating more than one meal per sitting. For example, if you go out to eat dinner and eat two entrees where everyone else is having one. There are some exceptions to this. For example, if you’re very tall, you may need the extra calories.  Otherwise, you could be having trouble losing weight because you’re eating too many calories. If that’s true, you may need to consider calorie restriction in addition to changing the composition of what you eat.

A recent study in the The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that weight loss from intermittent fasting is about the same as weight loss from calorie restriction. Although the study showed the fasting group had a higher dropout rate (38%) it was a small study (100 people). So you could still consider trying it. You may find that intermittent fasting is easier for you than calorie restriction.

If you try fasting you should watch out for signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). You may have symptoms including but not limited to dizziness, anxiety, and even passing out. So be careful.


Who Shouldn’t Try It

Everyone else who is not eating multiple entrees per meal. In this case, fasting is the same thing as calorie restriction. If you’re eating a healthy amount of calories, it’s more efficient to change the composition of what you eat to lose weight and get fit.

The problem with calorie restriction and intermittent fasting is that you’ll lose weight initially, but your weight loss will eventually plateau. This is because you’ll reset your body to think it now needs a lower calorie intake. This lower calorie intake will eventually become your new normal. When it does, your weight loss will plateau.  If you then try to start eating the standard three regular sized meals a day again, you’ll probably put on weight pretty quickly. This can be frustrating for you and derail your whole getting fit mindset.


Your Diet Can Help Prevent Heart Disease and Cancer

Recently I was talking to a fellow doctor who said he was trying intermittent fasting by skipping lunch. He said, “because really what does a salad add anyways, it’s just lettuce and tomatoes.”

The answer is if you’re fasting or calorie restricting by cutting out fruits and vegetables, you won’t be getting the benefits of the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals they contain. They have many benefits including potentially helping you prevent heart disease and cancer.

You could take pills to get vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But studies to do date show you’re more likely to get the benefits of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals if you eat them in foods. One theory on why is that your body may not absorb and process vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants the same if they come from a pill as if they come from food.


In the end, for most of you, the best option for losing weight is changing the composition of what you eat.

How to Say No to Sweet Food

Changing Your Relationship with Sweet Food

Do you have trouble saying no to sweet food when other people offer it to you? For example, you don’t usually buy cupcakes on your own. But, when your coworker brings them in for someone’s birthday, you have a hard time saying no.

I understand, you’d think the hospital would be healthy a place to work, but it’s not. I once worked at an office that kept emergency bags of chocolate in the drawer of every desk! That was in a cardiology clinic!


Why Does This Matter To You

Obviously, you’re getting a lot of extra calories you don’t need when you eat sweets unexpectedly. But you’re also causing a dramatic spike in your blood sugar. Usually, your blood sugar peaks about 2 hours after you eat. If it’s really high, like after you eat cupcakes or other baked goods, then your body will want to keep your blood sugar high the rest of the day. This means either you’ll keep eating or you’ll probably feel tired or grumpy after your blood sugar goes back down.


Change Your Relationship with One Type of Food

Try starting with one food, that’s a problem food for you, for example, cupcakes. Then make a mental plan and think “I don’t eat cupcakes anymore”, as in “I’m not the type of person that eats cupcakes”. This doesn’t mean you’ll never eat a cupcake again, but it means you only eat cupcakes a couple of times a year. For example, for your birthday and your significant other’s birthday.

It can’t be you eat cupcakes for any special occasion. This is because realistically between your friends, family, coworkers, and vacations you probably have a special occasion every other week. If you’re waiting for a time when there are no special occasions in your life, I don’t see that happening unless you become a homebody who never goes anywhere.


Visualization For Long Term Desensitization

Next, try visualizing yourself saying no to the one type of food you picked above. For example, if you’re going to a friend’s birthday visualize the scenario that cupcakes are going to be presented to you and then imagine yourself saying no. Then imagine the response your friends will have to you saying no. Then what you’re going to say in response to that and so forth.

Probably the best answer here is to say you’re full or you already had a lot of sugar today.  Generally, I’ve found that if you say you’re dieting or trying to get fit, that will get you into a back and forth conversation. This will drag out into how your friends think you’re already fit, you don’t need to lose weight, etc. It’s not as effective of an excuse.

Eventually, the goal is to desensitize yourself. So that when cupcakes are offered to you, you automatically think of yourself as the type of person who doesn’t eat cupcakes and say no.

This will take some time for you to make it into a habit, but it will be worth it. I’m finally at the point where my coworkers at my last job thought I didn’t like sweets at all! If I can do it, you can do it too!

Want to learn more about getting fit with science backed advice? Sign up and get my free guide  Lose 15 Pounds Without Cooking or Calorie Counting and start getting fit this month.

P.S. I recently spoke on the Hidden Why podcast about eating healthy, you can listen to it here.

How to Eat Indian Food and Lose Weight

Today I’m going to talk about healthy ways to eat foods that I find most commonly in restaurant Indian food. Usually, this is North Indian or Punjabi food.

Indian Food – Drinks
  • Mango lassi, this has a lot of sugar, try to transition to plain lassi which has less sugar. If you can transition to wine even better because it usually has little to no sugar depending on the wine.
  • If you’re not drinking alcohol, you can test transitioning to Diet Coke and see how it goes. Check out my post on diet soda here.
  • Obviously, water is your best option. But, I know that can be a hard transition to make, so start with just trying to drink less sugar first.
Indian Food – Bread
  • I love naan, pretty much all types of naan, plain naan, garlic naan, onion naan. I’m sure you do too.
  • However, your better option is wheat naan or wheat roti.  It’s lower in glycemic index than regular naan which is made from white flour.
  • Wheat naan or wheat roti has a lower glycemic index and won’t cause as much variation in your blood sugar levels. This is better for weight loss.
  • However, it’s not so much lower in glycemic index that you should eat extra wheat naan or wheat roti. It’s an improvement from regular naan but still high on the glycemic index scale, so don’t get carried away.
  • The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to slowly decrease the amount of regular naan you have. Basically, if you normally eat 2 regular naans, try eating 1 regular naan and 1 whole wheat naan.
Indian Food – Protein and Vegetables
  • Paneer, technically not a vegetable but frequently found with other vegetables like palak (spinach) paneer. Although paneer does have protein, it also has fat. I would get this only if you’re not eating fatty protein in another source like meat.
  • One of the best sources of protein is legumes, so lentils or chana masala is a really good source of lower fat protein.
  • As vegetables go, it’s best if you switch anything with aloo (white potatoes) for other vegetables like palak (spinach) or gobi (cauliflower).
  • This is because white potatoes have a high glycemic index and will raise your blood sugar more.
  • A lot of times dishes come as a mix of vegetables including potatoes or paneer. In that case, you should try to eat more of the other nonpotato/paneer vegetables and leave the potatoes/paneer behind.
Quick review on why glycemic index is important
    • High glycemic index foods will raise your blood sugar faster and higher, and your body will then want to keep you at that higher blood sugar level.
    • So when you eat high glycemic index foods, you will be more likely to feel like eating more to keep your blood sugar stable at a high level.
    • For weight loss and health reasons, it’s better to try and switch higher glycemic index foods to lower glycemic index foods.
Want to learn more about how to lose weight, improve your cholesterol and blood sugar levels with science-backed advice? Get my free guide  Lose 15 Pounds Without Cooking or Calorie Counting and start living healthier this month

P.S. Do you want to start exercising, but you’re worried about getting injured? I gave advice about this to The Hartford, you can read it here.

Should you exercise to lose weight?

Exercise and weight loss

As a cardiologist I get a lot of questions about weight loss and exercising, I’ve answered a few of the questions I get asked most commonly below.


  1. Should you exercise to lose weight?

No, you should exercise because it’s good for your health, toning and strength, preventing heart disease. It also helps with anxiety and depression, among many other benefits.


  1. Doesn’t exercise help you lose weight?

Yes, it does, but it’s more efficient to change the way you eat.

For example:

  • If I eat Peanut M&Ms every day at work as my afternoon snack (1250 calories/week) I would have to run 2 hours/week @ 5.5mph – 6mph. That’s just to burn the Peanut M&Ms off, to maintain my weight not to lose weight.
  • Alternatively, I could not eat an afternoon snack, or more realistically I could change what I eat as my afternoon snack to something that’s easier to burn off.  Sugar and fat calories take more work to burn off.


  1. How much do you have to exercise to lose weight?
  • This is very person to person dependent. Hypothetically let’s say you need to burn roughly 3500 calories to burn 1 pound of fat. Then you would need to run 5-6 hours at about 5.5-6 mph over what you already exercise to burn off 1 pound of fat a week.
  • So if you work out 3-4 hours a week already then you would need to work out 8 – 10 hours a week. Personally, I’ve tried this before, working out more to lose weight. I find it ends up being hard to schedule this much time to work out every week regularly. Really it’s just more efficient to change the way you eat.


  1. Do you have to exercise every day to lose weight?

No you don’t have to, but you may find it useful to exercise every day in the following situations:

  • If you’re exercising to help with stress and you stress eat then yes it probably would help you to exercise every day. It will help decrease how stressed out or anxious you feel on a daily basis, and then hopefully you’ll eat healthier.
  • You find it easier for planning purposes to have a schedule. For example, you schedule 30 minutes to workout every day at 6 pm. This way you can schedule other things like dinner plans or evening meetings around that time.


P.S. I recently gave some tips to Reader’s Digest about what I think you need to know about developing heart disease, you can read it here.

Want to learn more about how to lose weight with science backed advice? Get my free guide  Lose 15 Pounds Without Cooking or Calorie Counting and start losing weight this month.

Will diet soda make you gain weight?

In the News: Diet Soda and Weight Loss

You may have heard more in the news about artificial sweeteners, like the ones in diet soda, and recent lawsuits about whether or not they make you gain weight or keep you from losing weight.  

Here’s what recent research studies say:
  1. Early-Life Exposure to Non-Nutritive Sweeteners and the Developmental Origins of Childhood Obesity: Global Evidence from Human and Rodent Studies.

This study reviewed studies done in human children and rats exposed to non-nutritive sweeteners (acesulfame-K, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, and stevia) in early childhood and prenatally. It found some studies showed that they’re at risk for obesity related outcomes but other studies didn’t show this. Overall the evidence was inconsistent.

2. Health outcomes of non-nutritive sweeteners: analysis of the research landscape.

This study reviewed 372 other studies and evaluated if non-nutritive sweeteners affected healthy people and their appetite and short term food intake, risk of cancer, risk of diabetes, risk of dental caries, weight gain and risk of obesity. This study also found the evidence to be inconsistent on the harmful effects of non-nutritive sweeteners.


Some studies show non-nutritive sweeteners have harmful effects like causing weight gain, some studies show they don’t.  

If you’re wondering how something like diet soda with (almost) zero calories and zero sugar can keep you from losing weight, the experts aren’t sure either. One theory is that it messes up how your body regulates your blood sugar and insulin levels and this is what could cause you to gain weight or have trouble losing it.

What you should do about it:
  1. If you drink regular soda, it still seems to be worthwhile to transition to diet soda. This is because there are clear benefits to decreasing your sugar intake, including weight loss.
  2. If you already drink diet soda try testing this by transitioning to water or carbonated water. Then see if it decreases how much other sweets you eat and drink and helps you lose weight. I would try it for a few months because it will take some time to get used to not having diet soda.


P.S. I recently spoke on the Alpha Female podcast about some of my daily health habits and how I wind down at night before I go to sleep. You can listen to it here.