Keep Reaching For Candy? 4 Simple Tips To Reduce Your Sugar Cravings

mbg Contributor By Adelma Lilliston
mbg Contributor
Adelma Lilliston helps women create careers and lives that fit who they really are. Before training as a life coach, Adelma spent 15 years in research and management in both corporations and non-profits. She holds an MBA from Yale and a BA from Barnard.
Expert review by Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN is a Registered Dietician Nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Texas Christian University and a master’s in nutrition interventions, communication, and behavior change from Tufts University. She lives in the Greater Boston Area, and enjoys connecting people to the food they eat and how it influences health and wellbeing.

By now, you've probably heard it everywhere—our society’s affinity for added sugar has reached a borderline addiction. And we’re not talking about the sugar from a sweet piece of fresh fruit: Processed, refined sugar can spike your insulin, which has the potential to lead to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, chronic inflammation, and cancer. 

It initially spikes our blood sugar, causing us to feel energized and happy. But since eating pure sugar, like table sugar, is devoid of real nutrition, our blood sugar then quickly plummets, leaving us tired, hungry and moody. So we reach for more sugar in this cycle of spikes and crashes. 

The good news? There are some easy, simple tweaks to reduce refined sugar from your diet. Certain foods can help curb cravings and balance the body, getting you over the hump much easier.

Here are four tricks to reduce your sugar cravings, so you can quit that candy habit:

1. Eat high protein, fat, and fiber foods.

Protein, fat and fiber are highly satiating and keep the body full for longer. Make sure every meal and snack includes a protein source. Aim for about 25% of your meal to come from lean protein and pair it with good fats like omega-3 fatty acids (think salmon). Fatty foods are also very filling, and unsaturated fats from sources like olive oil, walnuts, avocados are associated with reduced risk of heart disease. And lastly, let’s not forget about the power of fibers. Generally speaking, fibrous foods exert their benefit by promoting satiety, decreasing hunger, therefore providing a feeling of fullness. 

So instead of just having an apple (which has fiber!) for a snack, spread some nut or seed butter on it to add protein and healthy fats, which will power you through your afternoon! 

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Good options:

  • Fruit with nut or seed butter
  • Avocado on whole grain bread
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Salmon and brown rice

2. Focus on complex carbohydrates.

Although complex carbohydrates like whole grains and vegetables are still carbohydrates (and still contain sugar), they won’t spike your blood sugar or insulin levels like refined sugar. That’s because these foods are less processed and contain more fiber, vitamins, and minerals compared to their refined counterparts. 

Refined carbohydrates are quickly converted to sugar, perpetuating the same cycle, but vegetables are complex carbohydrates, which keep you full for hours. They take longer to digest. 

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Good options:

  • Whole grain bread
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Arugula
  • Kale
  • Sweet potatoes

3. Switch to dark chocolate for dessert.

Dark chocolate releases endorphins without spiking your sugar, making it a great swap to satisfy your sweet tooth.

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Good options:

  • Chocolate bars with 70- 85% cocoa
  • Baking chocolate that is 100% cacao (if you can tolerate it!)

4. Drink more water.

Maybe you only get sugar cravings when you’re bored or want something to do. If this is the case, reach first for a glass of water. Water can help fill you up, and while you’re drinking it, you may even forget that you were craving sugar in the first place. Or opt for an herbal tea, if you want to add some flavor to your drink. Hydration is always a good idea

Sugar is not inherently bad for you, but, too much sugar from not the right sources can lead to cravings. And actually, adding some sweet foods you like into your diet in moderation (of course) can be a part of an overall healthy diet. There will always be times of overindulgence, but, don’t fret! Here’s what to do if a sugar craving becomes too hot to handle. 

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