Sugar is an addictive substance. According to the National Library of Medicine, we can develop a chemical dependency on sugar. (NIH)
Many people experience sugar cravings. You’ve probably experienced something like it. You’re walking through the grocery store or the mall, and you catch a whiff of something sweet or you see an enticing package. You start to crave your favorite sugary food. Maybe it’s been a week or a day, since the last time you indulged in this particular candy or snack. And you think, it’s just one candy bar, or one pastry, or one mocha. You can handle just one, right?
Maybe you can. Maybe you can’t. The trouble with food culture today, especially in the western world, is that sugary foods have taken over. There’s sugar in everything from spaghetti sauce to low-fat yogurt. (Healthline) The result is fairly unexpected. Since food companies put sugar into so much, it means that sugar cravings come at the same time as a lot of other food cravings. Sometimes, if we think we’re craving ketchup, it might be the sugar in ketchup that we actually crave.
Therefore, if you think you’re constantly feeling hungry, it might mean something else entirely — it might just be a craving. Your body and psychology are likely used to thinking about sugar as the way to satisfy most food cravings.
What to eat when craving sugar is a complicated question, and its answer has a lot to do with relearning damaging rules surrounding food, and retraining your brain and body to react to food cravings differently. If you want to know how to stop sugar cravings instantly, then you might be asking the wrong question. The most effective way to fix sugar cravings isn’t usually an instant fix–although it can be a permanent solution!
What to Eat When Craving Sugar
Should I Give Up Sugar?
The truth is that it’s okay to eat sugar. It’s not only okay, you should totally have sugar. You should enjoy eating, and foods with sugar are fun to eat. Sugar only becomes a problem when your cravings become uncontrollable.
What to Eat When Craving Sugar
Do you want to know how to satisfy a sweet tooth without sugar? It is definitely something you can do. It just means learning about what to eat when craving sugar.
There are two main ways to address a sugar craving problem. Both are useful, but only if you do them within a larger strategy of addressing the underlying problems governing your relationship with food.
The two ways to address a sugar craving are:
- Getting rid of sugary foods. (Healthline)
- Replacing eating sugary foods with a different food or behavior. (Healthline)
Both of these techniques have their place in an effective strategy for reducing sugary foods in your diet. But both of these techniques for addressing sugar cravings have their flaws.
The problem with simply getting rid of all sugary foods in your house is it turns sugar into a forbidden substance. That actually has the potential to increase your cravings. It might be possible to abstain from sugar for a time by denying yourself access to sugary foods, but eventually, you will probably cave in.
Replacing eating sugary foods with different foods or behaviors is useful. However, replacement has to be done within a broader strategy of understanding the underlying reasons behind sugar cravings.
There are some straightforward answers to what to eat when craving sugar. The most straightforward answer is not to punish yourself for an occasional indulgence. Eating sugar is fine–in quantities suitable to you and your biology. The important thing is freeing yourself from the control of sugar cravings.
Things to Eat Instead of Sugar
Knowing how to satisfy a sweet tooth without sugar is a good practice to include in your weight loss strategy. In most cases, it’s important to understand that, when you crave sugar, your body probably wants something else. The experience of craving sugar is generally the result of being raised in a culture that adds sugar to everything. So many sugar cravings aren’t sugar cravings at all, they just feel like sugar cravings.
As a result, an important step in relearning the damaging food rules that are sabotaging your ability to develop a healthier relationship with food includes developing new habits when you have cravings. (Washington)
When you find yourself craving food, there are a few things to try instead:
- Drink a glass of water. Most of us are chronically dehydrated. (NYPost) A feeling of craving sugar might actually be a feeling of craving the energy boost related to eating sugar. Rehydrating can actually address a lot of the same feelings but in a healthier way.
- Eat something with healthy fats. Nuts, avocados, and other foods with unsaturated fats create a similar energy boost as sugar, but with more nourishment.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with healthier alternatives. (Happy) If you mainly have a problem with candy or cookies or other highly processed sugary foods, eating healthier alternatives, like fruits and vegetables, can help address food cravings in healthier ways.
There are plenty of reasons why you might be experiencing a sugar craving that has little to do with sugar, except as it fits into the larger context of an unhealthy food culture. The point of the Ultimate Freedom Approach is figuring out the root cause behind unhealthy eating and addressing it at its source.
Here’s a powerful habit you can adopt to head off sugar cravings when they surprise you.
Eat something bitter.
Numerous scientific studies support this technique. One is called “A Spoonful of Bitter Helps the Sugar Response to Go Down” published on Neuron – a leading Science publication.
Many people have experienced this. In China, people often drink slightly bitter herbal tea with dessert. Diluting the sweetness of sugar likewise decreases the craving for sugar.
Sweetness neutralizes bitterness. Bitter flavors decrease sweet flavors and clean the palate, likewise decreasing sugar cravings. Balance is the key to moderation.
I refer to this balanced approach as “Teassert.” Next time you face down a big piece of tiramisu, have some herbal tea with it. Alternate between bites of cake and sips of tea. It will prevent any lingering attachment to sugar. Try it and see. You may be amazed.
While Teassert won’t totally fix sugar cravings, it will be a good tool to add to your weight loss toolbox.
A Far SMARTER Way
If you’ve been struggling with sugar cravings, you’ll notice a lot of the tips you see on the internet are reactive. A much more proactive approach, instead of just dealing with the sugar cravings, is to subdue the cravings before you have them.
When your food routine and body are well-balanced, your taste buds and senses are reset, and your emotional eating patterns are re-wired. This helps you to avoid experiencing sugar cravings in the first place.
Through this approach, it takes my clients — who’ve been addicted to sugar for over a decade — only 4-5 weeks to be able to fall asleep with a bag of the most tempting sugary food for them next to their pillow. Their old food psychologies, tastebuds, and behavioral patterns towards sugar are altered almost overnight — though they’ve implemented great practices for weeks to pave the foundation for it.
Getting rid of sugar cravings is achievable when you reset your body in this way.
The Ultimate Freedom Approach was created by Leslie Chen from Rise Lean, a pro with the knowledge to help you rebuild your relationship with your body and with food. To transform your whole experience of food, click here to schedule a 1:1 conversation. Fix your relationship with sugar and food obsession.