This article was written in collaboration with TOVI's nutrition expert, Dr. Tara Coletta. Learn more about Dr. Coletta here.
When you have a craving for something sweet, it can be incredibly hard to resist. Unfortunately, most sweets like candies, cakes, and desserts are loaded with added sugar. Added sugar can refer to sugar that has been added to food or drinks or sugar found naturally in honey, syrups, and unsweetened fruit juices. Added sugar in high amounts has been linked to a variety of ailments like weight gain, dental cavities, Type 2 Diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
The emergence of so much data about the effects of added sugar has made avoiding sugar a cultural movement. Cutting back on sugar means opting for unprocessed foods (like whole fruits and veggies, homemade sauces and condiments, and lean meats) over processed choices that are often high in added sugar. Making these kinds of food choices can help you take in fewer calories, control blood sugar levels, and increase your intake of vitamins and minerals.
That said, people often still struggle to “quit sugar” cold-turkey because of the strength of their sugar cravings. Cravings can occur for a variety of reasons like stress, hormones, or because sugar has become a long-term habit. Regardless of the cause, cravings can be hard to ignore. Luckily, we have a few tips that can help you out when sugar cravings hit.
1. Distract yourself.
At the end of the day, a sugar craving is just an intense desire for something sweet, and a great way to avoid giving in to your cravings is to distract yourself. Go for a walk, practice deep breathing, or have a conversation with a friend to take your mind off the sweet stuff you’re trying to avoid.
2. Have a healthy alternative available.
You can have something sweet without ingesting lots of added sugar. Have something satisfying and healthy available to snack on when your cravings hit. Whole fruit and dairy products (that haven’t had extra sugar added) are both sources of natural sugar that can satisfy your body’s need for something sweet. You can even save time by prepping fresh fruit at the start of your week.
3. Don’t stock up on treats.
If you don’t buy sweet treats, you won’t have an easy option to reach for when you’re having a craving. Remove the temptation by avoiding sweets at the grocery store (it helps if you don’t shop when you’re hungry). If you live with other people, encourage them to also avoid buying sweets or ask them to keep their sweets hidden so you won’t be tempted.
4. If you can’t resist, keep your portions small.
When you do give in to your cravings, don’t throw self-restraint to the wind. It’s okay to have sweets every now and then, as long as you’re staying mindful of how much you’re eating. Instead of plopping down in front of the TV with a full bag of gummy bears, prepare a small serving for yourself and put the rest of the bag away.
For more information, check out these other TOVI blogs:
Written by Ashley Miller-Dykeman, MA
Ashley is a science communicator and writer with a background in biology (BA, Boston University) as well as bioethics and science policy (MA, Duke University). In addition to writing for TOVI, Ashley is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and a loving dog mom.