5 Ways to Satisfy Sugar Cravings

Danielle Omar
by Danielle Omar
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5 Ways to Satisfy Sugar Cravings

Giving up sugar has many upsides including feeling a lot better. Cutting out sugar can help boost your mood and jumpstart your weight loss. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar daily, which equates to almost 350 calories. Removing those added calories can make a big difference in weight loss, especially when it comes to losing stubborn belly fat.

Sugar contributes to chronic inflammation, which plays a negative role in almost every function of your body, including how well you fight off the bug that’s been going around the office. One study found that eating 100 grams of sugar (the amount in two 16-ounce bottles of soda) reduced white blood cells’ ability to fight bacteria by up to 50%. Which is why you’re not doing your immune system any favors with that extra-large caramel macchiato habit. But while it’s common knowledge that there are no actual health benefits to eating sugar, its addictive qualities make it hard to give up.

Here are five ways to satisfy your cravings when you’re giving up sugar:

Eat small, balanced meals more frequently throughout the day to keep your blood sugar level steady. It’s also important to not get too hungry between meals so you don’t search for a quick sugar fix. Make sure your meals contain a healthy mix of protein and fiber to keep you full and satisfied, prevent sugar cravings and help you stay on top of your self control.

Sticking to naturally sweet foods, including berries, apples, pears, carrots, sweet potatoes and beets is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth. Since these naturally sweet foods are packed with fiber, the sugar gets absorbed into your bloodstream slowly. That means you skip the sugar high (and resulting crash) that leaves you craving more sugar in a vicious cycle. When a craving hits, reach for a piece of fruit (or other naturally sweet produce) to satisfy your sweet tooth while still getting nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber.


Not getting enough sleep doesn’t just make you tired and sluggish, it also affects the hormones that play into your cravings. When you’re sleep deprived, your body produces more of the “hunger hormone” called ghrelin. One study found that when men were sleep deprived, their ghrelin levels spiked all day long, causing them to eat an average of 340 calories more than their well-rested counterparts — most of those added calories came from sweet snacks. Another study found that not getting enough sleep was associated with drinking more caffeinated sugary sodas. Getting enough shut eye is key for combating sugar cravings!  

Your gut microbiota has a surprising amount to do with what you crave. Research shows that the bacteria in your gut has a strong influence on the types of foods you crave. Consequently, changing the makeup of bacteria in your gut can influence your cravings and food preferences. The best way to alter your gut microbiota for the better is to eat fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, tempeh, sauerkraut and kimchi. The probiotics in fermented foods supplement the “good” bacteria in your gut and provide an atmosphere for more good bacteria to grow.   

Since bitterness is the opposite of sweetness, eating bitter foods when you crave sugar can help slide back the scale of your sweet tooth. Examples of bitter foods include: grapefruit, leafy greens like arugula, radicchio and kale and veggies like Brussels sprouts and radishes. Not only that, but eating bitter foods before consuming naturally sweet foods makes sweet foods taste sweeter, so you can easily satisfy a craving with fruit rather than a candy bar. As you continue to cut back on sugar and counter your sweet tooth with bitter foods, your taste buds will adjust.

Your taste buds turn over about every 21 days, just like most other cells in your body, so the longer you cut out sugar and counter your sweet tooth with bitter foods, the fewer sweet-craving taste buds you’ll have left.

About the Author

Danielle Omar
Danielle Omar

Danielle is an integrative dietitian, culinary nutritionist, author and consultant, frequently lending her love of creating to high-profile food and nutrition media outlets. She’s a regularly featured blogger and founder of foodconfidence.comwhere she inspires men and women on their journey to become their healthiest self. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.


18 responses to “5 Ways to Satisfy Sugar Cravings”

  1. Sam says:

    Eating small more frequent meals throughout the day is an outdated idea which recent studies proves will set people up for overeating and increased hunger. I’m sad to see this kind of advice still persisting. It goes along with the fat is bad and low fat high sugar advice of the 80’s.

    • LittleD says:

      Not so much about the eating small more frequent “meals” throughout the day, but 3 meals supplemented with snacks (healthy ones, of course) is the way to eat. I got weight loss surgery (which was reversible, thank God), only to lose 31 pounds in several years. Finally, the surgeon asked how I was eating (this should have been asked at the start, wtf!) and I told him once or twice a day, if that. I’ve never had a big appetite and could easily forget to eat for a day or two. He explained to me, “OMG, you need to be eating something every 2-3 hours! You need to talk to the dietitian!” So she, of course, confirmed what he said. Even though it sounds counter-intuitive, eating more frequently keeps your metabolism running. Whereas, how I was eating, was putting me in “starvation mode” as I’ve always heard it called. And always thought it was BS. It took a doctor and dietitian to tell me before I finally believed it. They described it as your body not knowing how much fat is already stored on it, so if you eat as infrequently as I was, my body wanted to immediately store most of the food because it didn’t know when the next time would be that I ate again. So, needless to say, after I started following the advice of the doctor and dietitian, I lost another 60 pounds (with the surgery reversed), and am still losing. With no appetite, I have to force feed myself a lot, but I’m losing weight and very happy!

      • Charles says:

        “Starvation mode” from eating twice a day! You’re kidding right? This is modern day American psuedo-science. A large percentage of the inhabitants of this planet would consider themselves wealthy if they were guaranteed two meals a day and they don’t appear overweight by anyone’s standards. Ancient humans who didn’t have the luxury of easy food access often had to survive for longer periods without food. This is why fat is the nutrient our bodies use last as a fuel supply. No one is ‘starving’ eating two meals a day.

        • LittleD says:

          “Starvation mode” is a term, it doesn’t mean literally starving. The people you talk about aren’t overweight because they barely eat anything at ALL. You can’t be overweight if you’re not even eating what your body requires to function. And the people you talk about also don’t eat typical Western diets. Their diets are much different than ours.

          • Charles says:

            Although it may be used unwittingly, the term “starvation mode” is not just a made up phrase, it is based on scientific evidence. When the body is deprived of food for prolonged periods (starvation) it clings to fat as its last resource for energy after its expenditure of carbohydrates and proteins. So if you’re not starving then your body does not go into starvation mode. If I’m understanding you correctly, you’re saying that you can’t be overweight if you’re not eating excessive quantities of food, which is exactly my original point on why advising people to eat every 2-3 hours is poor weight loss advice.

          • LittleD says:

            That depends on what, and how much, you’re eating.

    • Linda says:

      But eating more frequently stabilizes your blood sugar best. If i would go too long without eating my blood sugar would drop as low as 30s at times!

    • anon says:

      I agree, fat is not the enemy, inflammation is. Sugar, starches etc are so bad for us, very inflammatory to our gut etc.

    • absolutely agree with you Sam. break your sugar addiction by not giving into cravings.

  2. dadsafrantic says:

    i agree with sam. maybe though in the beginning of losing the sugar crave eating more small meals may be the right way to go for some people. however once the sugar craving fade away eating less frequently is better as it gives your body time to work on things besides digestion. at least for me.

  3. 234559 says:

    Excellent overview – thanks for the links to other articles. That was helpful.

  4. Brandy says:

    When I have a sugar craving I just eat simple candy like gummy bears, wine gums, candy canes. I only get a craving every few weeks or so.

  5. Ginny Trierweiler says:

    Great points in this blog post. Thanks for not “sugar-coating” it!

  6. RickNSanDiego says:

    I was addicted to sugar for a long time. I would exercise at least 5 times a week and see very little positive results. I stopped 01/15/2018 and dropped over 10 pounds to date. I also have more energy now than I had while eating sugar.

  7. D Hall says:

    You had me until the end, with this utter nonsense from a medical standpoint:
    “Your taste buds turn over about every 21 days, just like most other cells in your body, so the longer you cut out sugar and counter your sweet tooth with bitter foods, the fewer sweet-craving taste buds you’ll have left.”
    Your taste preferences may adjust to less sweet flavors over time, just as happens with salt reduction, but the taste buds on your tongue don’t stop regenerating – nonsense.

  8. Anon says:

    So please tell me how people cut sugar cravings by eating sugar???

    • anon says:

      I agree…. sugar is like crack for the brain, it fires up more cravings. After you stay away from sugars (including starches) for about a week, your cravings go away. I can have cookies, cake, ice-cream sitting in front of me and no temptation at all. BUT Falmin’ Hot Cheetos? I gotta remove myself, I’m so so tempted, LOL

  9. anon says:

    oh my gosh sugar is so bad for us. I’ve given it up but our miraculous bodies sabotage us by turning too much of anything else into glucose / sugar …

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