Hot Take: If you were to ask me how to curb your sugar cravings, I would answer with three simple words: just eat it I know, not exactly the advice you would expect from a health coach, but by keeping an intuitive approach to nutrition in mind and armed with all the healthy hacks from Jessie Inchauspé’s book, glucose Revolution, Sugar isn’t that scary anymore. (Hint: the trick is in *how* you eat it.)
To be fair, I’d ask you a few questions before I instruct you to jettison self-control and eat to your heart’s content. what you ate for breakfast (sorry, vanilla lattes don’t count), how you slept last night, and your current menstrual phase affect blood sugar more than you’d expect—until you’ve finished this article, that is *wink*. But the biggest impact on sugar cravings? your blood sugar. Read on for long- and short-term tips on curbing sugar cravings for good.
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
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Why do we crave sugar?
Our body is constantly communicating with us. When we learn to listen to its signals, we can give our body exactly what it needs to keep thriving. A (not so subtle) example of how our body communicates with us: sugar cravings.
Let’s imagine: you have just come home from a long day and a small voice pops up in your head and whispers: Now wouldn’t a sweet snack be PERFECT? It’s your body’s way of telling you your blood sugar levels are about to plummet — and you need something sweet to bring them back into balance. Whenever our blood sugar spikes, there’s a crash, and the aftermath of that crash is the main reason behind sugar cravings.
Remember, life is too short not to eat sweets
let me finish Eating high-sugar foods occasionally is perfectly fine. While a sugar-free diet and lifestyle has many benefits, becoming too fixated on “clean eating” can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food later on.
Don’t get me wrong: Limiting added sugars in our diets is important to our long-term health and well-being. But living a holistically healthy lifestyle means looking at things as a whole, and sugary foods eaten in moderation can be part of a healthy diet. Especially once we’ve established sustainable habits like prioritizing sleep, exercise, and our mental health.
My personal strategy for curbing sugar cravings is to eat a little sugar every once in a while like it’s no big deal — because the way you think about food affects the diet you eat take. Perplexed. Now that some of the shame and anxiety surrounding eating sugar has hopefully dissipated, let’s talk strategies for curbing your sugar cravings and incorporating these sweet snacks into your healthy diet.
How to curb sugar cravings long-term
Pay attention to your menstrual cycle
There’s a reason women crave chocolate and ice cream during their time of the month, but scientists aren’t exactly sure what it is. Scientists speculate that female sex hormones cause blood sugar instability (resulting in higher glucose spikes, crashes, and cravings) and that sex hormones increase appetite.
In the luteal phase in particular, the female body needs more calories to function. While everyone (and everyone body) is different, the average increase in calorie needs at this stage of the menstrual cycle is around 300 calories per day. Slightly increasing your caloric intake can help stabilize blood sugar and keep sugar cravings at bay.
Prioritize sleep hygiene
Sleep quality has a major impact on sugar cravings. When we are sleep deprived, our body’s ability to metabolize blood sugar is compromised. If you wake up after eight hours of perfect sleep and eat a piece of fruit on an empty stomach, it may not cause your blood sugar to crash. But on another day, after just six hours of sleep, the same piece of fruit can lead to a massive blood sugar crash.
A bad night’s sleep also affects our hunger hormones. Leptin and ghrelin, our hunger hormones, play key roles in regulating appetite, and lack of sleep has been shown to affect these hormones and increase hunger stimuli. But here’s the rub: Poor sleep causes us to crave higher-calorie foods. So if you’re wondering how to curb sugar cravings, get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
Eat a piece of fruit
My personal strategy for instantly curbing sugar cravings is usually to eat something sweet. (I know, revolutionary.) I find that giving my body what it needs is a gentle and intuitive approach to healthy living.
When I have cravings for sugar, I look for fruit first. Usually mango, watermelon, or nectarines do the trick for me. Not only do you get the sugar boost your body needs, but fruit is also packed with fiber and balances your blood sugar better than a piece of candy or cake. Not to mention the many vitamins and minerals in fresh fruit that are so important to long-term health and well-being.
Drink an adrenaline cocktail
An adrenaline cocktail is a hormone-supporting drink packed with electrolytes and fresh fruit juices. The fruit juice is high in natural sugars to satisfy your sweet tooth and packed with electrolytes and minerals for extra hydration.
But when it comes to adrenaline cocktails, proceed with caution. Since fruit juice is de-fibered, it is not best Option to stabilize blood sugar. However, when you pair the functional drink with a handful of almonds or a scoop of high-fat coconut cream, you can keep your blood sugar stable and keep cravings at bay.
Eat dates with nut butter
Dried fruit has a higher sugar content than fresh fruit. This means that dried pickaxes are more likely to spike blood sugar and lead to sugar cravings. However, combining dates with high-protein nut butters that are packed with healthy fats can give us the stable blood sugar levels our bodies need. A quick snack of dates and nut butters can satisfy your sugar cravings while giving you an extra boost of fiber, iron, potassium, and many other vitamins and minerals.
The best way to indulge in sugar cravings
Take a shot of apple cider vinegar
Yes it’s right. Drinking apple cider vinegar or topping your salad with dressing before eating something sweet helps reduce blood sugar spikes, crashes, and cravings. I call that a WIN. Just be sure to dilute ACV in water before drinking.
Remember to order food
The order in which you eat your food is important. The best way to eat a meal is to eat the foods highest in fiber first, followed by protein, fat, and starches last. But please don’t tear up your sandwich and eat it piece by piece. These rules should improve your life, don’t make it more complicated. Prioritizing a plate of high-fiber vegetables, like a salad, before each meal is an easy way to pull off this healthy trick.
“When you eat the elements of a meal containing starch, fiber, sugar, protein and fat in a specific order, you reduce your total glucose rise by 73 percent and your insulin rise by 48 percent.”
– Jessie Inchauspe, Glucose Revolution
Enjoy mindful movement
Exercising our bodies, whether it’s jumping jacks, squats, or a walk around the block, lowers blood sugar levels after eating sweets. This is an incredibly powerful trick on days when sugar cravings are at an all-time high.
It doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t have to take a long time. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, do some chores, or turn up the music and dance to your favorite song.
Combine your sugars with protein, fiber and fat
Remember the dates and nut butter snack above — you can use this formula anytime you’re craving something sweet. Look for foods that you can eat alongside sweet treats that are high in fiber, fat, and protein. These macronutrients slow our digestion, which slows the release of sugar into our bloodstream, thus reducing sugar cravings. Light snacks on hand include prosciutto, cheese, or my personal favorite, a boiled egg.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and we encourage you to always consult your healthcare professional.