Introduction: Linkages between alcohol dependence (AD) and abstinence and aspects of food ingestion and preference have been described in animals and humans, including (1) eating sweets decreases urges to drink alcohol; (2) preferences for highly sweet tastants is associated with alcohol dependence; and (3) food deprivation leads to increased alcohol intake. Methods: We randomly assigned AD subjects in early abstinence to 3 different sets of dietary instructions (eat sweets for alcohol urges; eat a balanced diet; avoid sweets). We compared the groups on urges for alcohol, alcohol consumption, weight, and sweet preference at baseline, one, and six months. We also compared these AD subjects with light-drinking C's and compared AD subjects who remained abstinent for 6 month follow-up with nonabstinent AD subjects. Results: Recruited AS subjects, 38 of 68, completed 6 month follow-up; 27 of 36 C's completed the follow-up. 21 AD's were abstinent while 17 were non-abstinent. There was no effect of dietary recommendations on urges to drink or alcohol consumption. AD's were more likely than C's to prefer highly sweet tastants. The proportion of AD's preferring the sweetest tastant decreased over time. AD's gained more weight than C's over the 6-month follow-up. Discussion: While the use of sweets did not affect urges to drink or drinking, important relationships between sweet preference, weight gain, and alcohol dependence or abstinence were identified.