Sugar Cravings: Why You Have Them and How to Beat Them

Sugar cravings. We all have times when cravings sweets is all we can think about. Whether it’s craving sweets at night {it’s when the snacking desire comes on strong} or during the day – we can all relate to the feeling of being controlled by our sweet tooth.

An uncontrolled sweet tooth can prevent you from reaching weight loss goals. Sugar cravings derail you. Drive you crazy. Cause you to question, “What’s wrong with me?” and ask yourself, “Why can’t I be more self controlled?”

healthy cookies to combat sugar cravings

Feeling controlled by sugar isn’t fun. But guess what: you’re not alone!

I know what it’s like to suffer from sugar cravings at night and all throughout the day. That’s why I’ve placed such an emphasis on how to control our sugar cravings in my 4-Week Challenges and when I work with clients.

Like most women {and men}, you’ve wondered on more than one occasion, “How do I get over sugar cravings?!

And before you click away you should know that I’m not going to tell you to give up sweets entirely. In fact, you should also know that I eat something sweet {almost} every day. But more on that later.

Sugar is what’s making us fat and sick and it’s time we shed some light on it. Studies are showing that sugar is causing us to be overweight and the leading cause of heart disease. So whether you want glowing skin, more energy, the ability to lose some weight, or just be freed from the control of sugar, this article is for you! I’m going to help you combat your sugar cravings so you can still enjoy it, but not feel enslaved to it’s control.

chocolate breakfast cookies with less sugar

Why you crave sugar.

The sad truth is, people are addicted to sugar. We depend on sugar and it puts us in a dangerous cycle: We have sugar, then we feel good, then we crash, have more sugar, and feel good again. And the cycle starts all over!

When you have sugar it activates the brain’s reward system...causing the release of dopamine.Your brain sees sugar as a reward – it physically causes opioid production, which triggers dopamine {the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure} making you want it more.

This picture is a powerful illustration of the addictive nature of sugar. When you eat sugar, your brain lights up the same way it does for some someone using consuming cocaine.

sugar addiction and the brain

In fact, research shows that sugar is 8 times more addictive than cocaine! Just let that sink in for a moment. Studies conducted with rats found that rats were 99% more likely to choose and become addicted to sugar water than cocaine laced water.

Dopamine has an important role in the brain. It directs our attention towards food around us that are linked to feelings of reward. The dopamine system becomes activated at the anticipation of feelings of pleasure.

This means our attention can be drawn to cakes and chocolates when we’re not necessarily hungry, evoking cravings. Our routines can even cause sugar cravings. We can subconsciously want a bar of chocolate or soda in the afternoon if this is a normal part of our daily routine.

Think for a moment: Are there regular times you crave something sweet or always have something sweet? Do you do this out of habit? I have to be careful about this too. Sometimes I get in the habit of always having dark chocolate after lunch. If I’m not careful it becomes a routine and I go to the pantry to grab chocolate even when I’m not necessarily wanting something sweet!

Sugar is in everything.

We all know access sugar isn’t healthy. But unfortunately it’s in almost EVERYTHING now. Ice cream, cake, and candy are obvious sources of sugar. But sugar is also in salad dressings, peanut butter, bread, and the list goes on.

It’s no wonder we’re all addicted to sugar. Most don’t realize that these seemingly healthy foods are actually loaded with sugar. This is why it’s so important to read labels and know what’s in our food. Hint: Fat free and low fat foods add SUGAR to make it taste better to compensate for the lack of fat! Sadly, we’re misguided into thinking those are healthier when in fact, they aren’t.

I’m not going to lie and tell you that it’s going to be easy to combat your sugar cravings. If you’re used to eating sugar all.day.long like most Americans, it’s going to be hard. You’ll go through a little detox period that can last a few days or a couple weeks depending on how addicted to sugar your body is.

I will say this, EVERY SINGLE CLIENT who has gone through the sugar detox phase has said how AMAZING they feel, how much ENERGY they have, how there SKIN IS GLOWING, and have ZERO CRAVINGS for sugar!

It’s definitely worth it! But how do you do it?

chocolate and peanut butter

Stop sugar craving by going cold turkey.

Once you take away sugar and allow your taste buds to change and recalibrate, fruits and veggies will taste sweet. I remember a client saying grapes taste like candy now. You start tasting natural sugars and those are sweet enough.

My husband used to an avid soda drinker. Shortly after we were married he tried my flavored sparkling water. He thought it was disgusting because he was used to sugar loaded soda. Today, now that his taste buds have recalibrated, he loves sparkling water. I don’t mind that he’s traded his 3-4 sodas per day for a a couple sparkling waters.

Until your tastes buds have had a chance to change, this will be normal. I often hear people say they don’t like fruit or veggies because they’re plain and boring. But when you’re eating candy, sweet salad dressings, and sugar-filled granola bars veggies and fruit won’t taste very good. When our taste buds are used to experiencing highly processed foods that are loaded with sugar, they’re not able to enjoy the more subtle sweetness of fruits and vegetables. You’ve got to let your tastebuds change and getting off of sugar does this.

Things to know when your body is detoxing from sugar.

Giving your body the chance to flush out the excessive amounts of sugar allows your taste buds to adjust so you enjoy healthier options. But, your body will go through a period of detoxing when you cut back your sugar intake. Like a child being cut off from her binky, your body may freakout for a few days.

As your body goes into detox mode there are a few things you should be aware of.

  1. Be patient. It could take 3 days or 2 weeks. But be patient during this time. It will get better and won’t last forever. Just remember: you’re eliminating your sugar cravings through this process. It’ll totally be worth it!
  2. You may experience headaches. This is common among the women I work with. They complain of headaches for a couple of days – similar to if you were to wean off caffeine. But then a few days later it’s gone and they feel even better than before.
  3. Cravings may be worse. If you aren’t giving your brain the reward it’s used to, cravings are going to be worse. HANG IN THERE. It will pass.
  4. Drink lots of water. Don’t take this lightly. Drink water constantly to flush out any toxins and to keep your body hydrated.
  5. Eat regularly. Eat regularly to keep your blood sugar levels stable and from getting too hungry. Often times we crave snacky, sugary foods when we’re overly hungry and have little self-control. Fight this by preparing snacks to have on hand.

Does this mean I give up all sweets?

Absolutely NOT. But it does mean choosing healthier options most of the time. I think it’s perfectly okay to indulge every once in awhile but the rest of the time be mindful about your sugar consumption.

One of my favorite ways to satisfy my sugar cravings is to eat some dark chocolate. In fact, I have a whole basket full of dark chocolate in my pantry to help keep my sugar cravings at bay.

Instead of choosing a Snickers or another candy bar choose some dark chocolate with at least 75% cacao. One of my favorite dark chocolate bars is JoJos Dark Chocolate Bark. It satisfies my cravings and has significantly less sugar than other candy bars.  And you can use code KARA10 for 10% off your order here.

eat dark chocolate to combat your sweet tooth

It’s not about completely eliminating sugar. Rather, it’s about not being controlled by your sugar cravings and finding better alternatives when you want something sweet. I also love tweaking recipes so they contain less sugar. I also like to use better-for-you sweeteners like coconut sugar, pure maple syrup, and honey.

Below are some of my favorite healthier treat options to make that won’t spike blood sugar levels and helps satisfy sugar cravings too.

 

no bake coconut chocolate bars
Healthier Monster Cookies
4 ingredients peanut butter cups
chocolate chip cookie bars

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars

Summary

Sugar cravings aren’t fun. But being aware of your sugar addiction is half the battle. Whether it’s after a long day and you find yourself craving sweets at night, or any other time of the day – follow one of these proactive approaches. Freeing yourself from sugar’s powerful addiction will give you glowing skin, more energy, the ability to lose weight, and allow you to take control of your eating habits.

Remember, it’s not about completely eliminating sugar from your diet – it’s about not being controlled by your sugar cravings.