Sugar cravings are nothing to joke about. Here’s how to get past them without giving in.
Food cravings are a real thing, and lots of people have them. But what causes a food craving? “We may crave foods in response to hunger, visual stimulation, as a way to decrease stress, or even an external cue such as time of day or watching TV,” explains Leslie Bonci, MHP, RD, CSSD, LDN, nutrition consultant for the Kansas City Chiefs and Carnegie Mellon University athletics and author of The Active Calorie Diet.
One specific type of food craving is sugar, and it’s a serious one. Some research has found that sugar can be even more addictive and rewarding than drugs.
But it is one that can be curbed. “The issue is not the sugar itself, but the volume consumed of typically sugar and fat together, which is the combo most people crave, or salt and fat, like chips,” explains Bonci. “The problem is the calorie load, and perhaps excess fat and added sugar.” And a large calorie load may lead to weight gain.
Looking to kiss your sugar cravings goodbye? Here are some tips and tricks to help you curb your sugar cravings today.
Tips to Beat Your Sugar Cravings
1. Limit how often you eat sugar.
Yes, it’s great to give up sugar in general and eat as little of it as possible, but that’s easier said than done. Instead, try limiting how often you’re eating it. Research from a 2017 study suggested decreasing the frequency of consumption of sugar may be more helpful than decreasing the amount consumed.
2. Have some variety in your diet.
If you’re eating the same thing all the time, your body may just be craving something different. “Don't be so monotonous,” explains Bonci. “Increase the satiety with better variety.”
3. Vary your flavor profile.
Consider adding more flavors to your food profile, explains Bonci. “Instead of just reaching for sweet sugary foods and snacks, try some sour, bitter, and even umami.” New flavors may help satisfy your cravings, sans sugar.
4. Don’t get to the point where you’re starving.
When you wait too long to eat and end up extremely hungry, you’ll reach for anything in sight, explains Bonci, which could include sugar. “Don't let yourself get too hungry because you may end up eating more than you’re craving,” she suggests. “You should have about four to five hours between meals, and meals should keep you full for the same amount of time.”
5. Monitor your cravings.
What do you want to eat? How much do you need to satisfy your cravings? When during the day do you crave sugar, and where are you — at home or out? “Consider monitoring your cravings to help determine what the trigger is,” says Bonci. “What do you really want and is there anything other than food that might satisfy your craving? Make a list of foods you typically gravitate to if you’re craving sugar and figure out the smallest quantity that would satisfy the craving.”
Pair these strategies with a product like alli. For every five pounds you lose, alli can help you lose two to three pounds more when used as directed. It’s a great way to jump-start or continue on your weight-loss journey.