What's the cause?
While there is very limited scientific literature to be found about this ‘specific’ craving, I found a number of causes. On the one hand, craving something sweet is a physiological consequence: the so-called thermogenic effect of nutrition (TEF = Thermal Effect of Food). Simply put: you first need some energy to be able to get more energy from your food. When you look at it that way, it makes sense that your craving for sweets increases after a relatively big meal. It’s often the fast sugars that easily get the job done.
Some psychological factors that contribute to the need for sweet
There are also a few psychological factors that contribute to the need for sweet. It may just be a habit to get something sweet after dinner. Sugar in general increases your serotonin levels, which makes you feel happier for a short while. Maybe when you were a kid, you were promised dessert if you finished your plate. That rewarding feeling might still play a part, even if it’s on a subconscious level.
How to I break the habit?
The first thing you can do is check in with yourself on how you got where you are now. Is your need for sweet a craving or a habit? Is the craving stronger in certain situations (when you’re in company or alone)? Once you have this cleared up for yourself, you can make a plan to break the routine.
A good thing to try to control your sugar cravings is applying the 20-minute rule. It may be a bit of a cliché, but it can definitely work to wait 20 minutes after your meal. During those 20 minutes, the slow carbs that you consumed during your meal get the chance to convert themselves into energy. That energy can then be used for digestion. Your food is a bit more down and your cravings may not be as strong as right after dinner.
In conclusion, a tip for those with a sweet tooth: silence your craving with a small piece of pure chocolate (+75% cacao). That might just do the trick!