Revisiting My Sugar Addiction

If you’re a long-time reader, you might remember my post How I Beat My Sugar Addiction that I wrote back in 2012 after feeling totally out of control with my sugar cravings. I still use many of the same tactics mentioned in that post to keep my sugar consumption at a moderate level, but, four years later, things have changed. I feel like I have a better handle overall on my cravings, but, like a lot of people, it’s easy for me to slip into bad habits, especially during certain times of year (i.e. my post-holidays sugar bender) or when I’m feeling especially stressed or overwhelmed. That said, here’s what helps me keep my love for sugar in check nowadays!

Tips to Kick Your Sugar Addiciton

Stop the ritual of eating sweets

Being aware of my “ritual” of eating sweets has helped me so much. For instance, I found myself reaching for a handful of M&Ms after breakfast again and again. Doing this every once in awhile is no big deal (I mean, they go sooo well with iced coffee), but it started to become a daily habit and one that my mind and body started to expect. It also set the tone for the day, which made it so much easier for me to continue to reach for sugar. When I finally realized what was happening, I decided to put a stop to it, which meant eating more “real” food and pumping up the protein in my breakfast. Lately, I’m digging eggs for breakfast and they keep me satisfied for quite awhile. I also had a ritual of eating dessert every night after dinner. I still enjoy a little something most nights of the week, but it’s not an every night occurrence anymore. Again, I notice my sugar cravings are less noticeable when I eat a substantial meal, which brings me to…

Eat more “real” food

Absolutely. I mentioned this in my original post, and I can’t stress it enough. If I eat “real” food (i.e. something with substance””carbs, protein, healthy fats, fiber), I feel a lot more satisfied and don’t feel like I need something sweet. And if I am craving something sweet, like after finishing a meal, I go back for a second (or even third) helping. Usually, it’s a small portion, but I figure feeding my body something nutritious is better than something sweet. Physically, I feel full and, mentally, I know I don’t need anymore (sugar) calories. Of course, there are times when I just really want chocolate and no amount of seconds is going to do the trick. If really want something sweet, I have it, but I feel a lot more in control of my cravings if I have a substantial meal in my belly. For example, I’ll have a piece or two of chocolate (and not the whole bar) if I’m satisfied after eating “real” food.

Find healthy alternatives

I sometimes still enjoy healthy alternatives when I’m craving something sweet, but, more often than not, I pick the real deal, but just in moderation (more on this below). I mentioned a bunch of my healthy favorites in my original post and many of them I still love, but I don’t rely on them as much as I used to. Even still, I know this tactic helps a lot of people get control of their sugar cravings– me included– so here are some more of my favorites: 5-Minute Desserts for One, The Best & Easiest Peanut Butter Protein Balls, and Double Chocolate Protein Mighty Muffins.

GO FOR IT (in moderation)  

There are some days that I just want dessert. If it’s a matter of crazy sugar cravings, I eat more “real” food, but if I’m just in the mood to enjoy dessert, I let myself have it, but in moderation. I mostly practice a “Cookie Friday” approach. I say “mostly” because I love treats and rarely ever turn down my favorites, but I typically practice portion control, like having a small piece of cake (usually I just eat the frosting because it’s my favorite part), half of a donut, or a couple of cookies. I also like using small Ramekins to help with portion control (i.e. 1/3 cup Golden Grahams + 1 tbsp of chocolate chips). I don’t deny myself, but I don’t go crazy either.

Question of the Day

Do you struggle with sugar cravings? What are your tips for controlling them?

48 Comments

  1. I also can become easily addicted to sugar! I’ve found its best for me to just go cold turkey and take it out of my life for a while when it becomes a habit. It’s so easy to make excuses and have “just a little” – Great tips!

  2. Many times I’ve found when people crave sugar they’re actually lacking in nutrients. I believe it is an addiction but is a sign that the body needs more of something it’s not getting. Sugar also depletes the body of key nutrients so you need more of them and it causes significant inflammation.

  3. So hard to stop with sugar. I definitely agree with you that focusing on healthier alternatives is key. I don’t like to feel deprived! If it’s not a holiday or special get together, I just stick with 90% dark chocolate or make a chocolate protein shake to satisfy my cravings.

  4. Break the habit, for sure! Every Wednesday, we have donuts in the teachers lounge! They’re sooooo good! But the last couple weeks I walk out of lounge before they’re delivered.

  5. Sugar is much more addictive to the body than any other drug and it is why eating sweets few days in a raw make you starve for them each next day. Remembering that, it is much wiser to satisfy the craving for something consider as unhealthy when the feeling is small. If you like ice cream a scoop during the weekend stroll will do the job. When you are on diet regimen prohibiting make the crawings grow and then, one day you find yourself on a couch in a half way of ice cream container. You start to think bad of yourself and shortly you scratch the bottom because you think you did something bad already, so it doesn’t really matter any more. Thinking of healthy diet as a sacrifice to pleasure doesn’t make it easy to follow.

  6. Totally can relate to this– my problem is I tend to overdo it with the healthy alternatives i.e. dried mango, dates, banana ice cream etc. I’m pretty good with not having any real ‘dessert’ during the week- but still always want something sweet after a meal– thats what I’d like to get rid of!

  7. This is perfect timing post Easter celebrations- I don’t typically buy candy but when my family was in town my mom brought some and I’ve been snacking on it daily, oops! I think buying lots of spring produce will be a great way to get back on track- fresh fruits make a great dessert or mix in with some dark chocolate 🙂

  8. SLEEP! I tend to get that “itchy sugar” craving if I’m over-tired (& over-caffeinated). On days when more sleep’s not possible, filling up on more real food. Keeping ahead of my hydration is important too – a lot of the time I’m just really thirsty and my body’s sending out the SOS signal.

    And I treat Sunday as my treat day when I enjoy a real dessert from a bakery – a cupcake, slice of cake, etc and enjoy as much of it as I want.

    And clean teeth!

  9. Ugh! I so needed this right now. Unfortunatly, I have picked up something sweet after breakfast, lunch and dinner. I know I need to stop. Thank you!

  10. When I really need to get out of the habit, I will go cold turkey for a few weeks so I am forced to find alternatives. Sometimes that’s fruit or peanut butter or homemade granola. Usually the cravings subside then I can go back to eating it when I really want it, not just every time it is in front of me!

  11. Habit and stress are my two biggest sugar-craving triggers. Habit is a lot easier for me to control, in that I can just study/work somewhere other than my apartment (which has a lot of food…) and reduce my snack habit. Stress is harder, because I have plenty of healthy outlets for that, but sometimes leaning on sugar just feels easiest and most automatic. I’d like to work on retraining that.

  12. Needed this today. Gave in to a serious sugar craving/binge last night and feel pretty gross today! Did really well with avoiding sugar for years, but have struggled these past 18 months or so. Not sure why. Trying to troubleshoot cravings to get to bottom of things! Ugh!

  13. I’m also working on my sugar cravings! Sugar is so addictive and the more you indulge the harder it is to stop. I also try to substitute with a healthy alternative – say an apple that is still sweet but also has some fiber to keep me full. At night I ALWAYS want dessert, so I instead start with a cup of tea and then evaluate if I’m still craving something sweet.

  14. I certainly do struggle sometimes and my number one solution is to throw those things out (get them out of the house!) or hand them off to co-workers, lol. This past weekend I had to throw away starburst jelly beans and cake because my husband is traveling and its just me at home to eat them. I didn’t however throw away the reeses pieces eggs or mini cadbury eggs and I’ve been dipping my hand in them once a day!

    So for me it is “out of sight, out of mind”

  15. thanks for sharing this. i was just thinking about my sugar dependency, and how it ends up making me feel sluggish. i think you’re right, i need to stop the “ritual” aspect of it and treat it as more of a treat

  16. So guilty of wanting dessert after dinner, it’s like my body expects something sweet even if I’ve eaten a substantial dinner! I started drinking Yogi vanilla hazelnut tea and it has really helped satisfy the sweet craving without the sugar, I’ll have a large mug and the sweet craving will subside. I highly recommend it! (Note, it is caffeinated for those who are more caffeine sensitive than I am, years of working in finance has increased my caffeine tolerance)

  17. I absolutely struggle with a sugar addiction. This post is extremely timely for me as I feel like it’s gotten out of control lately and it’s time to reign it back in. Thanks for the tips!

  18. I absolutely struggle with sugar cravings. I’ve re-read your original post at least 5 times! I always go back to it, just to remind myself of some helpful tricks. But for me, I have to remember that what works for you (or anyone else) may not work for me! Another big key for me is not having a “trigger food” in the house. For example, I LOVE M&M’s, and will often buy that big bag from Target. Well, I know I’m not just a “one handful and done” type of girl, so I can’t buy those big bags anymore. I also have to NOT turn down treats when they come up. Restricting myself leads to bigger binges later. Thanks for another great post!

  19. The candy jar at work is within two steps of my desk, so I got in the habit of taking a piece or two after lunch EVERY day. I finally started tracking my sugar intake along with my daily calories and realized that little snack would be an easy thing to cut out…and after a few weeks I don’t even miss it anymore.

  20. I find something to do for a half an hour. If I still want dessert, I eat it, often my brain realizes that the meal I just ate is enough and I’m full.

  21. I really need to hear this today! I have a “ritual” of snacking and sugar cravings after dinner. I noticed this is where I’m in the least control of my thoughts. I was just telling myself this morning it’s probably a big part of why I have haven’t reached my wellness goals.

  22. Whenever I get a sugar craving, I instantly go for lean proteins. For me, sugar cravings remind my body that I am lacking protein and when I eat something lead, I immediately feel satisfied and the sugar craving leaves shortly afterwards.

  23. I gave up sugar for almost an entire year last year because I was on a therapeutic diet (it was terrible!). Now that I can eat it again (hypothetically in moderation), I find that I totally fall into routines. Lately, it seems to be raspberry dark chocolate every. single. night while we watch Netflix. I realized the other night that it was “time for some chocolate” and I wasn’t even that excited for it. When treats become routine they really aren’t “treats” anymore and that’s no fun at all!

  24. Reading everyone’s comments, I’m in agreement that sugar is addicting. I’m realizing the “ritual” aspect of the equation more so today, too. My problem is once I recognize the craving and succumb to the treat, thoughts of “Well, I’ve blown it for the day, may as well have something else I’ve been missing out on.” creep into my mind. Anyone else fight those thoughts?

  25. Whole30. My sugar cravings were completely out of control, to the point at which I wonder if I have a candida imbalance. I’m on my second round of W30, because truly the only way for me to overcome the cravings is not to substitute for it (because then I just get repeated cravings) but to really get it under my control.

  26. This post was perfect timing since I ate about a million Peeps and Cadbury Mini Eggs on Easter! I have a major sweet tooth so I’ve read your original post many times to get back on track and it has helped tremendously. I especially identify with breaking/not forming habits/rituals as well as eating “real food”, as these are tips that keep my sweet tooth in check the most. I think you should form a “sugar lover support group” on your blog! LOL =)

  27. I totally struggle with sugar cravings and I loved your original post. For me sometimes in my mind it is all or nothing, and while I can do that for a while, it doesn’t work for me long term. I love the tip to stop the ritual because it really does become a routine for me to eat sugar every day.

  28. I totally agree! I like to use rakemkin bowls for ice cream. I could eat cups of ice creams but if I just get what will fit in a small bowl I am stratified and haven’t over done it.

  29. I know I definitely struggled with this for awhile and I think the one thing that helped me was allowing myself that treat in moderation because then you no longer think you need a couple pieces of chocolate here and there that in end adding up to a lot! I also have found that changing habits works great! I used to think I needed all the sugar in coffee and now I drink it black and wouldn’t have it any other way!

  30. After finding out I have Type 2 Diabetes, I HAD to do something about my sugar/sweet cravings. Sweets have always been a problem for me. Then, I was introduced to Plexus products. They have been a tremendous help for me. Drinking Plexus Slim once a day, I don’t get sweet cravings anymore. I didn’t realize how bad I was feeling until I started on Plexus products along with my diabetic medicine.

  31. For me, cold turkey was the way to go (I gave up treats for Lent). Now I don’t crave sugar like I used to. I broke the habit of something sweet after lunch and a little dessert after dinner. I find it helps if I brush my teeth right after dinner. It signals my body that I’m done with food for the day. Then if I still feel like a little something, I have a cup of herbal tea with peppermint or licorice.

  32. I don’t really have too much of a sweet tooth, but I think the things that help mindless sugar snacking the most are just (1) not having too easy of access (I’m always surprised by people who keep a bowl of candy on their desks at work! Seems like you’re asking for it.) and (2) having good alternatives. For me, I like fruit flavored teas, fresh fruit, etc.

  33. Usually I don’t have a problem but I gave up sweets for Lent and ever since Lent is over, I’ve been craving chocolate non-stop!! It’s gotten ridiculous. I need a reset!

  34. Great tips! I loved the one about breaking the ritual. This is SO ME. I have learned to “break the ritual” by substituting for a flavored hot tea instead. I find the warmth from the drink and a touch of sweetness from the brew is really the only “finishing note” I need for my meals. It signals the meal is over and still lets me linger a few minutes long with something in my hand and something to occupy my mouth.

    I would also add to this incredible list, ADEQUATE SLEEP! I find I am the most vulnerable to sweets and overeating when I’m super tired. It’s like my body is craving and looking for quick energy even more!

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