How To Stop Sugar Cravings

One of the best things you can do to improve your overall health, is reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.

This can be difficult if you eat a lot of packaged foods, since sugar is one of the most pervasive ingredients contained in them.

Food manufacturers know that adding sugar to foods makes them taste better, and research has demonstrated that sugar is in fact addictive; this means more sales for them, but more sugar cravings for you.

However, reducing your sugar intake comes with a whole host of positive health benefits:

  • You’re more likely to lose weight.
  • You’ll have more energy.
  • You’ll have fewer of the mood swings caused by energy highs and lows that come after eating sugar.
  • Your ability to concentrate will improve.
  • You may be less prone to the degenerative diseases that come with ageing.

How To Stop Sugar Cravings

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Significantly reducing your sugar intake can make a huge difference to your overall health and wellbeing. So, how do you go about ridding yourself of this addictive habit?

Here are 5 suggestions to kick your sugar addiction to the curb…

1. Be aware
One thing that makes it difficult to reduce the sugar in your diet is that it’s found in foods which you may not be aware of.

One example of this is low fat yogurt. You may think it’s a healthy option, but it is probably loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners to enhance the flavor after the fat has been reduced. Instead, go for a natural yogurt, and add some extra fruit for flavoring at home, if you need to.

Try to get into the habit of checking labels to look for terms indicating a hidden sugar source. Names like sweetener, syrup, or any term ending in “ose”, such as glucose, dextrose, lactose, are what you’re on the lookout for.

Here are 50 names for sugar, to give you some idea of the scale of this problem.

You should avoid high fructose corn syrup in particular, and I don’t recommend artificial sweeteners as a good replacement either. Better to wean yourself off a liking for sweet foods altogether.

2. Eat whole foods
Processed foods tend to be extremely high in sugar and salt.

So, the more you can incorporate whole, fresh foods into your diet in place of overly processed foods, the less likely you are to be eating hidden sugars.

So, what are whole foods? The mainstay of your diet should be foods like,

  • Fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables
  • Lean meats like turkey, chicken, beef, and lots of fish
  • Legumes and eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Milk and dairy foods
  • Healthy fats and oils
  • Wholegrains

Foods like these help to moderate your blood sugar levels and fill you up, this means that you are less tempted to reach for sugary foods between meals, and late in the evening.

If you missed it, check out my article on how to have quick healthy snacks available in your home at all times.

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional dessert. I had homemade chocolate cake and apple crumble at the weekend — I know, what a splurge, right?

Well, it’s the habitual intake of sugary foods that cause the problem. No-one wants to say “bye!” to dessert and cookies for life, but having them everyday is a big mistake in the long-run.

3. Check your drinks
You may be pretty good at watching what you eat, but you need to check your drinks, too, as many of them contain heaps of sugar.

Soft drinks are the main culprit, one can of soda contains around 10 teaspoons of sugar. Also, many commercially prepared fruit juices are just as bad. And, if you are a sweet tea of coffee drinker, that can add up to a significant amount, especially if you drink coffee from places like Starbucks, which are very sugar-heavy.

So, what is the solution?

Water — and lots of it.

I’m not saying don’t ever drink tea or coffee again, but do make sure that water is your main source of hydration.

And, think about completely cutting all other sugary drinks, like soft drinks, fruit juices, etc., from your diet. They provide empty calories, and absolutely no benefit to your body.

4. Exercise regularly
For many people, sugar cravings are a response to low mood, but exercise has been shown to boost endorphins and serotonin levels, which gives you a natural mood-boosting effect.

This is just one reason to exercise for a few minutes everyday, as a way to help boost your mood, and therefore help you to better manage your sugar cravings.

5. Manage stress
Most of us are prone to reach for sugary foods when we’re feeling stressed.

However, getting proper rest, and finding ways to manage your stress levels, will make you better able to fight the sugar cravings when they do set in.

So, how do you stop sugar cravings?

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About Melanie
Melanie is a Registered Dietitian who started Dietriffic in March 2007. Her aim is to make good health attainable and sustainable, without guilt and torture, making her approach popular with those who desire a level-headed approach to good health. Have you got your copy of her free book yet?


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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Gail March 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Sugar cravings are the worst! Every time I get the least bit stressed, I grab sweets and wolf them down like I’ve never eaten. I was fortunate enough to see one of the tv specials entitled “I can make you thin” where he did a type of hypnotizing. He had everyone sit very still and think of the one sweet you can’t live without and then picture it covered with hair from a barbershop and other things like that and it actually worked for me. I gave up candy that day and as for the other sweets like cookies, etc. I went cold turkey. It takes three days of torture (wanting so bad to cheat) but then it’s out of your system. I find that as long as I don’t eat sugary foods, I can pretty much eat all the other things I want without gaining. The hardest times are holidays and birthdays. You are very right about the beverages we drink. Soda is one of the worst things for you and yet I see little children drinking it all the time. Thanks for your post. Very informative.

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Melanie March 26, 2011 at 10:12 am

Hi Gail,
I know what you mean, I hate to see little children drinking sofa and other sweet drinks. Water or milk is all they need. My little girl loves water, it’s the only thing she wants to drink, because that’s all I’ve ever given her. Sugar is so bad for their little teeth, too… agh, annoys me so much!!

Your experience was so interesting, I wonder would that work for most people? lol I think the best cure is just to avoid sugar as much as you can. I find that when you eat it you want to eat more, but when you avoid sugary things it doesn’t have the same hold on you.

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Barbara March 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm

I have a very sweet tooth and sugar cravings are my #1 problem… whenever I’m tired or stressed I reach for sweets and that is definitely one bad habit I would like to get rid of since otherwise I have a well balanced healthy diet. Very helpful informative post, thank you very much!

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Melanie March 26, 2011 at 10:14 am

Hi Barbara,
I’ve written an article on overcoming stress, I hope you find that helpful. Best wishes.

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Cathy in NZ March 26, 2011 at 8:47 pm

before I comment, Melanie – I am in the process of moving to a new email address because I have been having miles of problems with Outlook…

Although, I still access to a lot of foods/drinks that aren’t actually doing me a lot of good or whatever…some of the items have become almost luxuries and I only imbibe in them on occasions. Sometimes for a fast snack to tide me over.

what I noticed though afterwards I am not thinking ‘fondly’ of them and wonder why I chose xyz…

So at this point in time I am going back to basics until I feel I am really coping – I might put them back on the menu once a week or so…

I need to start making more homemade things as well which I think is part of the problem – the processing of certain foods are going to the sugary/salty way a bit too much

I have never been fond of anything like low fat-lite-diet as they do seem to use more artifical items to enhance as you have said..I would prefer to buy regular and just eat a little less :-)

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Melanie April 8, 2011 at 9:01 am

Hi Cathy,
I agree with you about getting back to basics, home cooking is the best way to improve your health. And, it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, lots of meals can be made quicker or at least in the same time as putting together a meal with more processed items.

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Cathy in NZ March 26, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Melanie, Oops that was the wrong address in first message

cedar51@gmail.com

is correct

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Paolo Volpi April 27, 2011 at 8:02 am

The average North American comes 140 pounds of refined sugar a year. That explains why so many people are getting sick at younger ages. Some people have extreme cravings for sugar. Rather than just throw it away completely, the first step should be to have raw cane sugar, which is glucose based. At least that way they have a healthier replacement.

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Melanie April 30, 2011 at 9:50 am

Or just cut back on sugar altogether? :-)

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Paolo Volpi April 27, 2011 at 8:03 am

Sorry, I should say “consumes”

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Alex Lim@luxury kuala lumpur hotel May 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Excellent post indeed. I have to say i had to try really hard. In general when a craving hits, i wait about 10 minutes. And while waiting i do something else like take a walk, grab a magazine and read that article you have been meaning to read, make a phone call and jabber for a few moments; do anything but NOT to grab those sweets :)

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Melanie June 4, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Hi Alex,
I know it takes dedication to do those things you’ve mentioned, but it’s worth it in the long-run.

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Candy November 25, 2011 at 12:05 am

Recently my doc told me that i have to stop eating sugar completely for two weeks as he wants to put me into observation . Not that i have diabetics but i have heat boils . I didnt know that sugar can lead to many health problems.It was instill in my mind that DIABETICS is the only sickness. I am new kids on the block to cut back sugar. Day one went very well. I turned into fruits ..I am still struggling but i hope i can get over it. As your article mentioned, by cutting back my sugar, i can also reduce my weight : )

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Melanie December 2, 2011 at 10:27 am

Hi Candy, are you allowed to eat natural sugars then, such as from fresh fruits?

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Mona December 3, 2011 at 8:07 am

Hi Melanie, I have extreme cravings for sugar and I’m only 13… Im worried that I may be diabetic! Yet I looked up on the internet “how to know if you are diabetic” and none of the symptoms matched to me. Do you know what this is?

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Melanie December 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Hi Mona, The only way you can know for sure it go to the doctor to have your bloods checked for diabetes. If you eat a lot of sugar, you will crave sugar. Do you find you are eating a lot of sweet foods?

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Candy December 7, 2011 at 5:14 am

Hi Melanie, sorry i was away hence didnt check the website. Yeah am allowed to consume fruits. One week off from sugar went well. I can see the differences actually – boils have vanished though a few are there but i guess it will go away (finger crossed !) I have stopped drinking coffee as well as it was considered heaty.I hope i can last without sugar for sometimes. Also i need to lose 5kgs as i am 75.5 kgs for 5’6 . So i thought maybe the best way might be cutting back my sugar. Am working out three times a week- Bootcamp workout for an hour. Hoping to shed weight , so badly. How else can i scrutinize my food intake ? I totally against fried stuff ,junks but i definitely have sweeth tooth -chocolates..

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Melanie December 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I’m glad you’ve been able to see a benefit already. Have you tried keeping a food journal, to help you see other areas to improve? I also find that whole, unsalted nuts are one of the best snack options to help get over cravings. The protein content is very satisfying. Stick with one 1oz serving each day, though.

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Barbara January 1, 2012 at 9:41 am

I can be good all day, I come home from work, feeling great, no allergies happening, in control, all well, then I see it, chocolate, biscuites, whatever, my husband buys them for him, he can eat one chocolate I have to eat the packet, and I do, then I feel guilty, my eyes water, my nose runs, I can’t think, so I eat more sugar, What the heck is wrong with me, it is driving me nuts. The amount of sugar stuff I have thrown away, and as soon as it is back in the house I have to eat it….ahhhhh

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Melanie January 10, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Hi Barbara, Would it be possible to get your husband to hide it from sight somewhere?

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Candygal January 10, 2012 at 5:25 am

@ Melanie – I have just started with my food journal. Also i have taken up Yogalates to workout .A quick question- Can we eat fruits as much as we want ? If i am not gonna consume sugar base food, i can get natural sugar from the fruits right ?Is losing weight 5kgs in 3 months ideal ? Am 75.5 and my target is to be at least 70-72kgs by end of March. I am not a member of gym -well i was then i stopped. I dont like gym ..I do have dumbbells at home and i m planning work on the video aerobics .

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Melanie January 10, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Hi Candygal, I would suggest if you are trying to lose weight that you don’t eat too much fruit. You are right that you get natural sugar from fruit, so 2-3 portions a day is adequate. Then try to eat about 5 portions of vegetables, too. A good rate of weight loss is around 0.5 to 1 kg per week.

It’s great that you’ve set yourself goals to aim for. Also, don’t worry about not working out at the gym, I don’t either, and an exercise video is a perfect idea.

Here’s a home workout routine you may find helpful.

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