5 Foods That Curb Sugar Cravings

by Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
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5 Foods That Curb Sugar Cravings

Today’s food landscape is rife with quick, cheap access to sugar whenever we are craving it — and even when we aren’t. Grocery and convenience stores are stocked with cookies, candy, sugary beverages and other sweet snacks strategically placed at the checkout prompting unhealthy impulse buys.

Vending machines dispense sugary sodas and pastries to beat your 3 p.m. slump, and every office seems to offer donuts for breakfast. In a sugar-saturated world, it can seem impossible to curb those nagging cravings for sweets — because they’re everywhere!

Even after a satisfying meal, sugar cravings can hit you hard. One explanation of this feeling is hedonic hunger — or eating for pleasure rather than for satisfaction. Researchers are still trying to figure out why this happens, but before we take the first bite, the sight of a sugary or fatty food causes the brain’s reward circuit to get excited.

Once the sweet treat hits your tastebuds, signals are fired off to the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that causes an intense feeling of pleasure. Overeating sugary foods not only floods the brain with dopamine, but also creates a pattern of sugar cravings. In a short amount of time, the brain starts to crave more sugar and fat to reach the same threshold of pleasure it once got from small amounts of these pleasure-inducing foods.


Whether you reach for sugar after every meal, first thing in the morning or as a bedtime snack substitute these foods instead:


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  • Ronnie

    I can’t stand raw celery so I’d use carrots instead with the peanut butter. Top and tail the carrot. Peal off the skin and quarter length ways then eat with peanut butter as a dip.

    • Catharine Frost

      problem with carrots is they are high in carbohydrates and natural sugar, try cucumbers if you don’t like celery!

      • Ronnie

        i think i dislike cucumbers even more. i might try some chard next time – i grew some this summer

      • Dog

        Nope! Carrots are considered a vegetable; not a starch, so eat up on carrots. Would much rather someone eat these than loading up on bacon, sausage, ribs, wings, cold cuts, etc.

    • Nancy Law

      apple slices and peanut butter is a fantastic snack and very satisfying … love it and I am Type 2 diabetic who is trying very hard to stay away from muffins, tarts and cookies.

    • Al Hughes

      Try substituting almond butter for the peanut butter. It tastes even better and is a healthier alternative.

      • Luis Urbina


        • Hank Ratliff

          Potato chips tastes great with some good dairy laden and fatty dip.

          • dben9

            Definitely potato chips dipped in pure sour cream. A friend taught me this trick nearly 49 years ago and it’s still The Best!!

        • Dog

          Nutella is mostly sugar, not hazelnuts like the ads share.

      • dben9

        There’s no evidence that almond butter is “healthier” than peanut butter. And we think peanut butter (ground roasted peanuts only) tastes way better than almond butter!

        • Al Hughes

          OK, personal preference I guess…

        • Becca

          Almonds are higher in fiber & contain more vitamins and minerals than peanuts.

  • Lynn

    matcha smoothie recipe has 1 cup of orange juice, not something that seems to make sense for this article on cutting back on sugar

  • Arthur Holmes-Brown

    I guess sprinkling sugar strawberries defeats the whole purpose 🙂

  • Simon Woodward

    What a load of twaddle! SADly Registered Dieticians are still being shackled by the constraints of their Registration Board, to stick to the SAD (Standard American Diet), and look at the burgeoning epidemic of diabetes that has produced. The system needs to get caught up with the modern scientific research. It’s happening only very slowly. If you want to kill sugar cravings, migrate to an Low Carb – Healthy Fats diet, or stronger still, go ketogenic. For more in-depth information explore the various Reversing Diabetes Groups on Facebook – they are so much more than a bunch of zealots – they are recovering diabetics who have found a way of eating that satiates hunger.

    • Fabbbarry

      What a load of twaddle written in response to an excellent article! Simon is talking out of his rear.

      • City of Blue Tile

        Keto is the answer to everything these days before it used to be paleo! I wonder what fad diet will be the answer to life next?

    • Janet Mary Lee

      Actually Simon is spot on. I have had to try to lose weight for almost 50 years, and a low carb or keto diet does stop the cravings almost like magic. I was stunned. Paleo also does, but tends to be rather restrictive and changes your metabolism if you do not continue it, and not in a good way. Many find they feel almost sick if a “bad ” carb is not had occasionally. And some of the substitutes on the Paleo are really awful tasting. A low carb or keto diet is not a fad, more like correct healthy eating with benefits.

      • Michael R Edwards

        Simon, I have talked to several dieticians. None seem to go with a “standard” diet. They work to help one to modify one’s eating habits. Less food and healthier foods. So far with this approach I have lost 50# and still going strong. A good dietician will also recommend safe excersie. I think you are reading old information or talking to old school dieticians.

    • Dog

      RDs base all advice off of documented large scale scientific research, not fad diets. Now, they can tell you about all of these quick result eating hacks up and down, but the focus of dietitians is to always promote heath of the human body through dietary, physical activity, and lifestyle choice alterations. Humans can only stay on fad diets for so long, eventually they will return to consuming carbohydrate because this nutrient provides the glucose that feeds all cells in the body. In ketosis, the body basically perceives it is in a starvation state and will break down lean tissue to convert some of it to glucose and it can derive about 30% of energy from ketone bodies, which are a product of fatty acid breakdown. This process puts a huge demand on the kidneys, liver, heart and lungs as well as your body attempts to normalize pH levels. Yes, you will lose weight and most definitely lose your appetite for sweets, but you also lose your health, lose your lean tissue, damage your body, and drastically decrease the amount of calories needed to survive. Thus, leading to fast weight gain when normalized eating is established again. So, I stand by the advice given in this article. Yes, sugar is a bear to kick and our society saturates access to it, making it harder to kick the habit. Basically, the old advice is great! The problem is everyone is looking for something new and shiny and something that will deliver quick results. Try 7 servings a day of fresh vegetables (organic if in budget) 2 servings of whole fresh fruit (organic if in budget), breads and cereals that are 100% whole grain (again, organic if in budget – try sprouted and ancient grains), 3 servings of organic 1% or skim milk or organic Greek yogurt, 1 to 2 servings (2 T) or unsalted nuts or seeds, and about 5 to 6 ounces of lean protein (fish, shellfish, breast meat, soy, beans or peas) each day. Eat like this, and you will have so much energy, sleep better, have clearer skin, and the texture of your hair will improve. This is the secret diet!!

  • Mahrie Reid Glab

    Imake a dip that is half all natural peanut butter and half plain or low sugar vanilla yogurt. I often use the fermented almond milk “yogurt”. For extra boost I usually stir in a half a tablespoon + – of a vegan protein powder. If ot is too stiff, add a splash of almond milk. Great with apples, Grapes, carrot stick or any other veggis or fruit.

    • Sue

      I’m with you on this Mahrie. I don’t even use greek yogurt anymore, go strictly almond milk yogurt or coconut milk yogurt. I add fresh ground almond butter, chia seed, grind some flax seed, half frozen banana, handful of spinach and about a cup of frozen berries, any type. Tablespoon of turmeric and then Top it off with almond milk unsweetened vanilla. mm m mmm mmmm.

  • Wayne Stone

    I agree with the article and have been eating celery with natural peanut butter (just peanuts, needs stirring)
    a couple years and it helped me to lose weight.

  • Katina Smith

    I have a bag of raw pumpkin seeds by my bed along with a 16oz bottle of water, I eat a spoonful of peanut butter on slice of whole wheat bread, I have switched to a pescatarian diet and I am still compelled to make apple pies, banana puddings, and chocolate cake. Sugar is addictive like a drug. It a constant struggle to not eat it. End of story.