Are you addicted to sugar? 5 Ways to Beat the Strongest Cravings

Posted On Jul 14, 2015 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

Are you addicted to sugar? 5 Ways to Beat the Strongest Cravings

Do you find yourself dependent on chocolate to get through the day? Or, if you have a few bites of cake and ice cream does it leave you wanting more? Sugar, for some people, can be just as addictive as drugs. Recent studies show comparable brain activity between drug addicts and people who are sugar-sensitive. If you answered yes to the first two questions, have extreme cravings for sweets and simple carbs, or find that the more sugar and simple carbs you eat, the more you want it, you may be sugar-sensitive.

Once you determine if you're sensitive to sugar, choose one, or a combination, of the following strategies to manage your cravings.

  1. Cut out all added sugar and white flour such as flour tortillas, baked goods, pretzels, crackers, and white bread products, but keep healthier naturally occurring sugars found in dairy, fruit, beans, and starchy vegetables. For example, include fruit at breakfast, plain yogurt at lunch, and corn, squash, lentils, or sweet potato at dinner. This is the most extreme strategy but it works, especially the more intense your cravings.
  2. Have a single portion of dark chocolate when a craving hits. Dark chocolate, 80% cocoa or higher, has a very small amount of sugar, but chocolate has mood-boosting ingredients that produce serotonin and endorphins (happy hormones!) in the brain. Many people find they can have a single square of dark chocolate and feel satisfied, unlike milk chocolate or other candy which only makes them want more.
  3. Find a non-food replacement to make you feel calmer and happier. We crave sugar because it gives us a brief feeling of joy and calm, just like drugs do for addicts. If you take out the source of stress-relief/joy (the food), it must be replaced with an alternative that produces the same result. Deep breathing, even for 2-3 minutes, and aerobic exercise, such as walking for 10-15 minutes, produce the same hormones that eating a cookie does that ultimately make you feel happier, calmer, and less stressed.
  4. Eat 4-5 small meals per day to prevent a drop in blood sugar. Sugar cravings are more likely to attack if you're running on empty. Combined with fatigue or stress and it's a recipe for a candy attack. Eating 4-5 mini-meals or 3 meals and 1-2 snacks can help prevent this.
  5. Eat a high protein snack when a craving hits. This can help fill you up and give time for the craving to subside without starting a vicious cycle of sugar highs and lows.

Do you have trouble with sugar cravings? Are you going to try any of the strategies above? Let us know your answers in the comments below.