The Sweet Solution - How to Curb Sugar Cravings and Improve Your Health Without Feeling Deprived

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An Epidemic of Sugar Cravings

Sugar cravings are no joke – the intense desire to enjoy something sweet is an urge that many people struggle with. Over 75% of Americans are eating excess amounts of sugar.. But sweets themselves aren’t the ultimate enemy. It’s rather the type and quantity of sweets that we often crave – ones filled with loads of refined sugars and carbs combined with saturated fats that tend to burden not only our weight, but also our energy levels, heart health, gut microbiome, mental health, and of course our glucose regulation. 

Can Sugar Cravings Be An Addiction?

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, one reason it might be so hard to quit sugar is not the just the sweet taste, but the addictive properties of the sugar itself. Many studies have shown that the part of the brain known as the pleasure center “lights up” when you consume high amounts of sugar. That is why you get a feeling of happiness when eating a bowl of ice cream.. Some researchers warn that sugar might be just as addictive as cocaine, and since refined sugars are hidden in so many prepared foods, it could be just as dangerous for public health

Why Do We Have Sugar Cravings?

Sugar cravings can be caused by a myriad of things, including hunger hormones, inadequate sleep, nutritional deficiencies, habit, and even some health conditions. If you experience sugar cravings or symptoms that could indicate a serious health condition like hypoglycemia or diabetes, you should seek out a health professional to rule out conditions. 

  1. Habits Can Cause Sugar Cravings – often we reach for a sweet treat as a course of habit. For example, after dinner, while watching TV, mid-morning or mid-afternoon.are all common times that we may reach for a treat. Next time you feel the urge to satisfy your sweet tooth, ask yourself if it’s a habit. Then, try to find a healthier habit to either replace or add to the habit of eating sugary foods….. Slowly, you can replace the habit altogether with a healthier one. Download my Free Resource Here to get practical, real-life examples of how to kick the sugar cravings and reduce your consumption. 
  2. Hunger Hormones – the hunger hormone ghrelin can trigger sugar cravings. To help satiate hunger, try eating complex, high quality carbs like whole grains and vegetables, as well as quality protein and some healthy fats (virgin olive oil drizzle, anyone?). Additionally, eating foods rich in fiber help the body to feel full and may help curb sugar cravings. 
  3. Serotonin Levels affect Sugar Cravings – Low levels of Serotonin, the “happy” hormone, can cause sugar cravings. When you’re feeling sad, depressed, or stressed, the body can crave sugar to stimulate the body’s pleasure response. Also, stress causes elevation in cortisol levels, which in turn triggers hunger hormones and can be a key contributor for sugar cravings for a lot of people. Being able to stimulate the relaxation hormones associated with the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest response) may help ease the urge to seek pleasure with sugary foods. 
  4. Lack of sleep – Sleep is important for so many reasons, but did you know the lack of it can exacerbate sugar cravings? When your body is tired and running on empty, sugar provides a quick burst of energy that can seem like a temporary fix – until your blood sugar crashes later and causes you to repeat the cycle. Making sure you have a solid night’s rest can help ensure your body is well-rested and prepared to meet the demands of the day. Read this article to learn how to improve your sleep hygiene for overall health. 

How to Fight Sugar Cravings and Reduce Your Sugar Consumption

  1. Don’t keep sweets in the house or near you. Instead, keep high-fiber fruits or other healthy alternatives freely available and within sight. 
  2. Sweeten foods yourself. Buy unsweet tea, plain yogurt, etc and add your own sweetener. You’ll be able to reduce the amount over time, and are likely to put in less than the manufacturer would have anyway. See this recipe for my favorite strawberry greek yogurt.
  3. Watch for added sugars. Everything from canned soups, condiments, and even foods like lunchmeats, cheeses, and frozen meals can have several grams of added sugars. Often called hidden sugars, these sugars sneak into your diet, increasing your glycemic load without you even realizing it. 
  4. Eat breakfast, that helps curb cravings. Download my free guide to see some examples of healthy breakfasts that may help keep you satisfied all the way to lunch. 
  5. Find a replacement habit for the after-dinner sugar snacking. I.e. eat a piece of fruit or a small pre-portioned handful of nuts, homemade or low-fat, low-sodium popcorn.
  6. Give in a little – allow yourself up to 150 calories of your favorite snack- This helps keep you from overeating and allowing (guilt-free!) a small amount will keep you from feeling deprived. 
  7. Combine foods -Have a little bit of dark chocolate, but mix it in with some fresh berries and walnuts, for example. See our free resource for more ideas on this.
  8. Chewing gum can reduce cravings. Be sure to chew gum without sugar, like xylitol-sweetened gum, and be sure to chew after a meal, as chewing gum triggers digestive process and hunger hormones, and can be less desirable on an empty stomach.  
  9. Skip artificial sweeteners – they don’t curb the cravings and have not been shown to reduce obesity. Additionally, many people have concerns about artificial sweeteners actually worsening sweets cravings and may have some other health concerns. 
  10. Get support – here’s where having a coach can help. When you’re struck by a craving, having someone who understands and is able to provide support and reiterate your own goals is a huge asset and way to effect lasting internal change. 
  11. Magnesium can be helpful, as magnesium helps to regulate glucose and insulin levels, as well as the neurotransmitter dopamine. A deficiency can lead to sugar cravings. I like the one from Trace Minerals Research in the liquid form. I add it to my lemon water in the morning.

Foods that Fight Sugar Cravings

Want more practical advice and a list of foods that help fight sugar cravings, as well as practical tips on how to reduce cravings and overall sugar intake? Download our free resource here. 

Please Note: No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified professional. This information is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.