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  • Dr. Nancy

Trouble Breaking Up With Sugar?

Did you know that your diet is likely fueling your sugar cravings? Depending on what you’re eating (or not eating, in many cases!), you could find it almost impossible to quit sugar. If you’re not eating enough of certain food groups, it can make sugar cravings take hold and never want to let go.


Here are some things to consider from a food strategy perspective to help you kick sugar cravings.

Protein and Sugar Cravings

Protein helps slow down the rate that sugar is released into your bloodstream. If your protein intake is on the low side, your blood sugar can fluctuate between extreme highs and lows. And this means more sugar cravings!

It’s your body’s way of trying to get a quick energy boost. According to studies, eating a high-protein diet can reduce night-time snacking by as much as 50%. If you find yourself reaching for sugary snacks in the evenings and towards bedtime, eating more protein during the day can be a helpful strategy.

Smart protein choices include grass-fed meats, poultry, wild Alaskan salmon, pastured eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes.

Fiber and Sugar Cravings

Fiber is another way to slow down the absorption of sugar in your body. A lot of the time, fiber passes through your digestive system without being digested, which means it doesn’t have adverse effects on your blood sugar levels. And it doesn’t pave the way for huge sugar cravings.

Fiber also helps keep you feeling fuller. If you’re genuinely satisfied after eating, you’re less likely to have sugar cravings, especially if you’re also eating ample protein, and healthy fats.

Fruit and vegetables are a great source of fiber. There’s a good reason to eat the rainbow and make sure you get plenty of fiber-rich fruits and veggies to help keep your sugar cravings in check!

Simple Carbs and Sugar Cravings

You don’t always need to be eating sugary foods to get sugar cravings? Carbs can have much the same effect since they’re broken down into sugars in the body and cause the same blood sugar fluctuations as sugar. White bread, pasta, and rice are common culprits for this, along with refined starches like crackers, bagels, and potato chips.

Simple carbs get in your bloodstream quickly. This results in an equally fast spike in your blood sugar levels. This is why you can get such an instant “sugar high” from eating a sweet treat.

The trouble is, it’s quickly followed by a blood sugar crash as your blood sugar levels dip. Your body tries to deal with this by looking for a quick energy fix and guess what it chooses? Sugar!

If you eat simple carbohydrates, and you are not eating enough protein, fiber and healthy fats, you will continue to struggle with sugar cravings.

And when you start to cut out simple carbs, you can get extreme sugar cravings — in the short term, at least. After that, it gets easier to reset your body’s expectations, and it learns how to get energy from other sources (and not just sugar).

Swap simple carbohydrates for complex carbohydrates that don’t have the same effects on your blood sugar levels. Think brown rice, quinoa and oats.

Healthy Fats and Sugar Cravings

If you tend to lack focus and have “brain fog” more often than not, looking at your intake of healthy fats could help with this and your sugar cravings. Stock up on avocado, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil, and coconut oil to get more healthy fats in your life.

As a bonus, healthy fats also keep your brain tuned up to function well. Since your brain is largely made up of fats, this is important for a happy and healthy brain.

Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar Cravings

Swapping sugar for artificial sweeteners might seem like a sensible choice. They have lower calories, so they must be better, right? Not always!

According to studies, you’ll still get sugar cravings — sometimes more extreme than sugar. Research has indicated that artificial sweeteners can change the way your body uses glucose, which has a compounding effect on sugar cravings and calorie intake in general.

Artificial sweeteners can hijack your brain into “needing” more calories. You can wind up eating more calories than you realize. Quite ironic given that people often switch to artificial sweeteners to lose weight and avoid the effects of sugar.

Hydration and Sugar Cravings

One of the cheapest and easiest ways to curb sugar cravings is to drink water. It is estimated that about 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. We just don’t drink enough water.

According to a study published in 2008 in the journal of Physiology & Behavior, water constitutes only about 10% of beverage consumption. Consuming energy-yielding beverages, those containing sugar confuses and disrupts your natural thirst instinct and your hunger instinct. You may eat when you are actually thirsty.

Start the day with at least 16 ounces of water. Strive to drink at least ½ your body weight in ounces of water each day.

Remember, small steps taken consistently can yield big results.

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