It’s 10:30 p.m. You sit down to catch up on the latest episode of your favorite show, but as you’re watching you can’t stop thinking about the pint of Ben & Jerry’s you bought yesterday. That creamy chocolate ice cream with decadent chunks of cookie dough...you can hear it calling your name all the way from your freezer. We’ve all been there. It can be hard to keep your mind off sweets, especially when you’re craving them.
If you’re someone who is trying to cut back on sugar but you’re finding it difficult, you might start to ask yourself “WHY am I craving sweets?” And if you’re someone who hasn’t thought too much about your sugar cravings, now might be the time to start. It’s no secret that sugar isn’t really good for you. And while it’s okay in moderation, consuming too much can have negative short- and long-term health effects like acne, weight gain, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and more.
You can kick a sugar habit if you know triggers and tips to stop. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Aside from the fact that you’re craving sweets because they taste good, there’s evidence that proves the more you eat sugar, the more you crave it.
Additionally, when a person eats sweets, dopamine (aka the “feel-good” hormone) is released in the body. This can make sugar addictive; if you get happy or feel a mood boost every time you eat sugar, your brain learns that and triggers cravings for more.
You could also be craving sugar because you’re not getting enough sleep or are feeling stressed. Why? Sugar can increase energy (briefly before a sugar crash) and energy is needed to solve both of those issues throughout your day.
The good news is it’s very possible to kick your sugar habit. The bad news is, in order to do it most effectively it’s best to stop eating sugar cold turkey. While this doesn’t need to include natural sugars (like fruit) it should include all added and artificial sugars in addition to sugar itself (think: baked goods). Make sure to check all your nutrition labels because sugar can sneak in the ingredient list and is also noted in the “carbohydrate” section on a label.
If you can’t eliminate all sugar right away, start small and work towards the big goal. Cut out these items, some of which are obvious, and some of which you may not realize how sugary they are:
Any dessert (cookie, cake, donuts, pastry, etc.)
Sugary drinks (soda, juice, sports drinks, etc.)
Alcohol (all of it, but mixed drinks are the biggest culprit)
Granola and trail mix
Flavored coffee creamers (black coffee is best)
There are other ways to reduce cravings, too:
Take a probiotic supplement. According to wellness experts, sugar has a negative impact on the bacteria in your gut. In order to have a healthy gut, taking a probiotic supplement (in addition to limiting sugar) is recommended. You may also want to consider eating foods that are high in probiotics (like yogurt or sauerkraut.)
Eat more protein. If you eat sugar to give yourself an energy boost, swap it out for protein. While protein doesn’t necessarily give you energy, it helps keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day (aka avoiding a crash) which can limit your perceived need for sweets. Additionally, if you eat enough protein, you can stay full for a longer period of time — potentially eliminating the room in your stomach for sugar.
If these tips still can’t help you shake sugar and you feel like you need more assistance, you can always consult a dietitian or nutritionist or even speak to your regular doctor about a plan of action that can work for you.
About the author
Maddie is a writer and lover of all things wellness and lifestyle. She’s been featured on doctoroz.com, The TODAY Show Digital, PureWow, The Knot, and now Playbook! When she’s not working on a story, you can find her searching for a perfectly constructed charcuterie board, laying in the sun, or at a yoga class (mostly to work off the charcuterie board).