If you find yourself craving sugar all the time, you’re not alone. Sugar can make people feel almost powerless at times, but it doesn’t have to be that way. So how do you take control of things before they take control of you?
Why do I get sugar cravings?
There could be lots of factors at play for each person. However, a lot of times, sugar cravings start with the state of your gut health. We have trillions of different bacteria in our gut that all want different things. Our good bacteria want foods rich in fiber, while more undesirable gut bacteria want you to feed them highly processed cakes and donuts. When there is an imbalance of gut bacteria related to an unhealthy diet, the gut bacteria that crave not-so-healthy foods will speak the loudest, often coming in the form of a strong sugar craving.
How can you fix this?
Not to worry! There is always time to get ahead of sugar cravings and support your gut and the rest of your body to reach its peak. As a dietitian, here are my best tips to help you effortlessly silence the cravings:
Eat a filling breakfast
Rushing out the door with a piece of toast in hand won’t do much for you. It doesn’t set you up with a filling, nourishing, and truly satisfying start to your day. It mainly just shoots your blood sugar up, starting you off strong with imbalances that can throw you off for the rest of the day. Blood sugar imbalances are one of the biggest culprits of sugar cravings, so making sure you are eating a balanced breakfast with fiber-rich carbs like oatmeal, healthy fats like peanut butter, and protein like eggs, will keep you on track.
Don’t skip lunch
You’ll realize that the theme so far is to dedicate time to creating a versatile and well-rounded meal schedule. Skipping lunch is an easy way to continue to throw your blood sugar, hunger cues, and energy levels off track. Not eating lunch, or only eating something like a quick slice of pizza will leave your body without what it needs to power through the rest of the day.
It also makes you more likely to reach for a sugary snack at 3 p.m. to get you through the rest of the day. Eating a satisfying lunch with a high-quality protein (like tuna or chicken salad), fiber-rich greens (carrots or a salad), and healthy fats (avocado, nuts, or seeds) will again keep you going throughout your busy day by keeping blood sugars stable and preventing great fluctuations.
Snack on fruit
The answer isn’t to just cut sugar out entirely. I will always advocate for people to eat more fruit, especially if you have intense sugar cravings. Fruit has sugar, but it also has fiber to slow down absorption and prevent large spikes in blood sugar.
Fruit is also packed with water, vitamins, and electrolytes to keep you feeling sharp throughout the day. If you really want to make things sweeter, opt for dried fruit. Just be sure to read the labels to spot any added sugar, which you don’t want to find. Medjool dates, dried pineapple, and dried strawberries are always winners.
Understand your cravings, and why you’re having them
The reasons you may get sugar cravings could be completely different from someone else’s. For a lot of people, the answer isn’t always physiological — it’s psychological.
Stress, boredom, or just wanting comfort can all be reasons for feeling like you just need the fix right this second. If that sounds like you, try to address any reason behind why you have those feelings, and see if you can channel a release through an outlet other than food. Many people struggle with this, and it can be difficult to do alone. If you think you may need extra support, consider working with a dietitian that specializes in emotional eating and building a trustworthy relationship between yourself and your body and mind.
Sugar cravings are very normal. Sometimes there isn’t any explanation except that you just want a cinnamon roll, and that is okay. At the same time, regularly indulging in your sugar cravings may lead to unwanted health effects like weight gain or chronic disease.
There are many reasons for sugar cravings, but listening to your body and making sure that you eat balanced meals that aren’t high in refined carbohydrates (especially without the support of fiber, fat, and protein) are two fantastic places to start to crush your cravings easily.