Healthy Things to Have with Your Writer’s Coffee

Filed in Writing Well Wednesday (WWW) by on January 30, 2018 4 Comments • views: 632

~Writing Well Wednesday Tip~

When you drink coffee, do you crave donuts, pastries, or other sugary treats?

There’s a very good reason for that. According to recent research from Cornell University, when we drink coffee, we naturally crave something sweet.

The caffeine blocks the action of an internal chemical called “adenosine.” This chemical usually binds to nerve cells to make us feel sleepy. Caffeine binds to those receptors, keeping the adenosine out, which is one of the reasons why caffeine can help you to feel more awake and alert.

Scientists have found, though, that blocking these receptors can also decrease our ability to taste sweetness, which makes us crave sweet tastes all the more.

“When you drink caffeinated coffee,” said lead author Robin Dando, “it will change how you perceive taste—for however long that effect lasts. So if you eat food directly after drinking a caffeinated coffee or other caffeinated drinks, you will likely perceive food differently.”

Previous research by Dando also showed that when you chemically block people’s ability to taste sweet flavors, it makes them crave more sugar and causes them to seek out high-sugar, high-fat options.

Ergo, the donuts.

If you’d like to enjoy your coffee with an accompanying treat but you don’t want to gain weight in the process, try these options:

  • A bran muffin—it’s high in fiber and can be delicious.
  • Whole-grain toast or raisin toast with a very light spread of low-fat butter.
  • Banana—it’s sweet but good for you!
  • Low-fat yogurt.
  • Fig newtons—they’re made with real fruit and are lower in calories than most cookies.
  • Fruit slices, dried fruit, or dates.
  • Hard-boiled egg.
  • High-fiber, low-fat granola bar.

What healthy snack do you pair with your coffee?

Choo, E., Picket, B., & Dando, R. (2017). Caffeine May Reduce Perceived Sweet Taste in Humans, Supporting Evidence That Adenosine Receptors Modulate Taste. Journal of Food Science, 82(9), 2177-2182. Retrieved from

Judkis, M. (2017, August 29). This part of your morning routine could be causing your afternoon sugar craving. Retrieved from

Noel, C. A., Sugrue, M., & Dando, R. (2017). Participants with pharmacologically impaired taste function seek out more intense, higher calorie stimuli. Appetite, 117, 74-81. Retrieved from

Schwartz, J. (2017, August 24). Caffeine tempers taste, triggering temptation for sweets. Retrieved from

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Comments (4)

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  1. Kimberly says:

    I would think if your ability to taste sweets is blocked you would eventually not crave them at all! I drink coffee every day and I don’t crave sweets at all, but once in a while during the year. The more I didn’t eat sweets or sugar the more I didn’t want to. Now, a little bit of sweet tastes very sweet, so a little bite goes a long way when I have some.

    • Colleen says:

      Well apparently the studies have found the opposite. Coffee doesn’t “block” the sweet taste, just dims it, so it seems we crave it even more. That’s awesome that you’ve been able to cut down on sweets. They do say taste is just a habit!

  2. I do like sweet goodies with coffee, but when I’m trying to lose pounds, I toast a no-sugar added bread (Ezekiel) and top it with no-sugar-added crunchy peanut butter.

    Somehow it’s easier to avoid pastries and sweet breads with herbal teas, at least for me. I don’t use sugar in the tea either. My new favorite is Celestial Seasonings Lemon and Lavender. The aroma is amazing.

    • Colleen says:

      That sounds like a good option, Pat, and definitely—tea, especially herbal, doesn’t have the same effect. I never crave sweet stuff with tea, either, but coffee just inspires donuts! (ha)

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