The question of how to beat sugar cravings is a common one because it’s a real problem that most people are struggling with. In fact, sugar cravings are one of the most common food cravings in the United States today, and many people are searching for ways to beat it once and for all.

The average American consumes about 152 pounds of sugar a year. That’s roughly 22 teaspoons every single day. And for kids, they consume even more, at 34 teaspoons every day, which makes nearly 1 in 4 teenagers prediabetic or type 2 diabetic. This is why 70% of Americans and 40% of kids are overweight.

According to research, 98% of women and 68% of men have experienced sugar cravings. And the more sugar you eat, the more you’re likely to crave it because sugar is eight times as addictive as cocaine.

It’s easy to crave sugar when you’re stressed, tired, or otherwise not feeling your best—not to mention that it can make you feel better in the moment. In the long term, however, excessive sugar consumption can lead to weight gain and health issues such as diabetes and heart disease. So, if you’re craving sugar, the best course of action is to curb those cravings before they get the better of you.

While there’s no magic bullet to stop sugar cravings, these 10 ways can help you learn how to beat sugar cravings and stay on track with your diet.

How to Beat Sugar Cravings

1. Incorporate sweet spices as sugar alternatives

Going for an alternative will help trick your mind into thinking that you’re having actual sugar.

Instead of the usual warm drinks with sugar and syrup, go for sweet spices such as cardamom, coriander, pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger), and Ceylon cinnamon.

If you’re a fan of hot chocolate, you can use a small amount of cocoa powder or unsweetened cocoa mix in place of sugar (I use carob instead). When baking, try adding one teaspoon of ground cinnamon or 1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger per cup of flour called for in your recipe.

These spices generally have a sweeter taste but do not contain sugar. When you add them to foods, you will get that sweet taste, and your mind will think you are having something sugary when you are not.

2. Swap carbonated drinks for carbonated water

Nothing can beat carbonated water when it comes to quenching your thirst and curbing sugar cravings. Carbonated drinks like soda, sweet tea, and Energy Drinks have a lot of sugar and are generally not good for you. However, it can be difficult to let go, especially if you are attending parties or in the summer when you want something to calm the heat.

If you’re trying to curb your sugar cravings, you may want to consider replacing these carbonated beverages with seltzer water (read the label and make sure there are no added sugar). Note that drinking Seltzer water can possibly cases gastrointestinal disturbances, like bloating and gas so you might want to avoid it. Instead stick to water, herbal tea, and lemon water. 

Try infusing your water with freshly squeezed fruit juices like lemon or natural herbs for a different flavor experience. You can also include any sweet spice and add a splash of natural juice such as cranberry or cherry juice to give it color. See Is Soda Bad For You?

 

3. Eat whole foods

Still, wondering how to beat sugar cravings? Quit processed foods! Table sugar is hidden in many processed foods, from sauces and salad dressings to seemingly innocent snacks. When you’re trying to stop a sugar craving, it’s important that you stay away from sugary foods or foods with added sugars. And if you find yourself constantly craving sugar, switch to a diet focused on whole foods instead. The natural nutrients found in these healthy options will curb your sugar cravings. See How To Avoid Processed Foods.

Eating whole foods beats sugar cravings in a number of ways. When you eat fresh foods, your body gets a variety of nutrients that it can absorb instead of just empty calories. Also, because whole foods are more satisfying, you’ll eat less without even thinking about it—which is often where sugar cravings come from in the first place. Some research has also found that people who eat mostly fresh fruits and vegetables don’t have much desire for processed, sugary junk food anyway. So if you want to curb sugar cravings, start by eating real food!

When purchasing food products in-store, most individuals may want to go for fat-free processed foods thinking they are better. But eating whole foods containing their natural fat, fiber, and other nutrients will help control cravings until your next meal.

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4.   Avoid simple carbohydrates

Are you still wondering how to beat sugar cravings? Quit processed foods!

Table sugar is hidden in many processed foods, from sauces and salad dressings to seemingly innocent snacks. When you’re trying to stop a sugar craving, it’s important that you stay away from sugary foods or foods with added sugars. And if you find yourself constantly craving sugar, switch to a diet focused on whole foods instead. The natural nutrients found in these healthy options will curb your sugar cravings.

Eating whole foods beats sugar cravings in a number of ways. When you eat fresh foods, your body gets a variety of nutrients that it can absorb instead of just empty calories. Also, because whole foods are more satisfying, you’ll eat less without even thinking about it—which is often where sugar cravings come from in the first place. Some research has also found that people who eat mostly fresh fruits and vegetables don’t have much desire for processed, sugary junk food anyway. So if you want to curb sugar cravings, start by eating real food!

Simple carbohydrates such as white flour, white pasta, bread, and white potatoes release high amounts of sugar when digested. This gives you a quick spike in blood glucose, thus a quick boost of energy. But you’ll get a crush because these foods lack the fiber to sustain their sugar release. The craving will also worsen because you’re now craving more of the energy you experienced than the food itself.

5. Eat protein and fat with every meal

Protein and fat slow down digestion, making you feel full longer and curbing sugar cravings better. Snacking on nuts or a small handful of trail mix when your sugar craving comes on strong can do wonders. If you must snack, stay away from sugary sweets—it will only make things worse! Stick with fruit or yogurt. If you must have something sweet, stick with fresh or frozen fruit (not canned). You’ll get less added sugar that way.

6. Go cold-turkey

Although the first few days can be challenging, eliminating any form of simple sugars, including artificial sweeteners from your diet, can be the best way to approach your cravings.

This method works best when you have someone to keep you accountable, at least at the beginning. Be it your spouse or friend, find someone interested in doing the same and let it be a form of challenge, for example, a ten-day sugar-free challenge.

By the time you’re on the tenth day, your taste buds would have adjusted, and you wouldn’t want to go back.

7. Cut off energy drinks and fruit juices except for green vegetable juice.

Juicing strips off all the fiber that could help slow down the release of sugar, meaning you will not get that quick spike. This also means you’ll experience the rest of the benefits in the fruit.

Consuming fruit juice or energy drinks will cause a spike in blood sugar, followed by a drastic drop. This is because these drinks have no fiber, so the sugar will quickly be released into the bloodstream. This will trigger insulin release, which will quickly move glucose out of the blood, causing a drop with a subsequent craving for more sugar.

8. Manage your stress

When you’re stressed, cortisol goes up, which makes you hungry and crave sugar.

High-fiber plant-based foods such as green peas, flaxseed, pistachios, kale, broccoli, almonds, berries, and sesame seeds can help reduce your stress levels and help prevent cravings. How To Balance Cortisol Levels Naturally.

9. Get enough sleep

Less than 8 hours of sleep a day increases your hunger hormones and drives you to overeat. Also, too much caffeine and alcohol can deprive you of sleep.

The best plant-based foods to help enhance your sleep include chamomile tea, tart cherries, tart cherry juice, seeds, and kiwi.

Craving is a good indication that something is missing. If you’re craving sugar, it indicates different things, including brain conditioning, mineral deficiency, blood glucose imbalance, inadequate sleep, or high-stress levels. So examine yourself and take that bold step in tackling the individual causes of your cravings. With time the cravings will fade off. How To Sleep Better.

10. Practice healthy habits in the morning

One of my favorite ways to curb sugar cravings is practicing healthy habits in my mornings. Eating a wholesome breakfast, getting some exercise, and planning your day all set you up for success—and make it easier to avoid unwanted calories later in the day.

Why Do You Crave Sugar?

From ice cream and cake to cookies and candy, sugar has found its way into just about every food imaginable. But it’s not just the sweet treats that you crave; bread, chips, starchy vegetables, and even savory meats have been coated with sugar or otherwise enhanced with extra sugar to make them more appealing to your taste buds.

But why do we crave sugar so much? Let’s take a look at some possible explanations below.

 

1. Conditioning

Sugar can be highly addictive, and many of those who crave sugar can’t imagine life without it. Sugar cravings are driven by various factors, including hormone fluctuations that affect the way you process sugar and the simple fact that eating sugary foods releases dopamine (a feel-good hormone) in your brain.

A part of your brain then makes a memory of how good that spike of dopamine felt, leading to the creation of a conditioned response to that stimulus. So now your brain craves the stimulus. Your brain craves sugar!

The effects of sugar give you that same high you get from other addictive substances like nicotine or cocaine.

2. An imbalance in blood sugar

Another reason to crave sugar is if you have reduced glucose levels in the blood.

Sugar in the form of glucose acts as fuel for different cell functions. When the glucose supply is insufficient, the body will send hunger and sugar cravings as a signal to provide it a quick sugar boost.

This is especially common if your diet is full of processed foods and lacks fiber. Fiber controls the release of sugar, while processed foods will cause an immediate spike and fall in sugar, again causing you to crave sugar.

3. Magnesium deficiency

Magnesium is responsible for regulating glucose, insulin, and dopamine, and low levels can lead to sugar cravings, especially chocolate.

4. Stress

When stressed, your body will release high levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that allows your body to deal with stress. However, if your cortisol is constantly high, it will start to lower serotonin, another feel-good hormone.

The body doesn’t like it when you have low serotonin levels. So it will do whatever it takes to increase these levels. And in this case, your body will crave sugar to help raise your feel-good hormones.

5. Lack of sleep

Your appetite is regulated by two hormones: leptin and ghrelin.

Leptin suppresses appetite by increasing the feeling of fullness and satiety, while ghrelin is a hunger hormone that stimulates hunger and cravings. According to research, a lack of sleep increases ghrelin levels while decreasing leptin, leading to an increase in appetite and hunger.

6. Lack Of Exercise

Going for regular brisk walks will reduce sugar cravings, a study shows that taking short bouts, about 15 minutes of brisk walking reduces cravings for sugary snacks in obese people

Final Thoughts

If you are like most people, you have probably battled a sugar craving at one point or another in your life. Sugar cravings can be difficult to curb, especially if you eat them often, but there are ways to help yourself fight against the urge to eat sweet foods and drinks when you are hungry.

These may include incorporating sweet spices instead of sugar, eating whole foods while keeping off processed ones, incorporating enough protein and fats, cutting off energy drinks, and starting your day with various healthy habits, including exercise.

Addressing the main factors leading to sugar cravings is also a greater step towards beating sugar cravings.

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