10 Tips for Overcoming Sugar Cravings

Hi everyone!

I’m so glad I’m not alone in my sugar battle.  Thanks for your enthusiasm for the Sugar Detox challenge!

Before we jump in on Monday, I wanted to share a few tips to help set you up for success.  Feel free to add your own tips in the comments as well, so we can all help each other.

1) Drink more water– Sometimes it really is this simple.  Most Americans are chronically dehydrated, which can bring on headaches and other symptoms that send us running to sugar.  Carry a water bottle with you and refill it several times to ensure you stay well hydrated.

2) Identify your triggers: When do you want sugar? Mid-afternoon slump? Post-dinner? Is it a time when you’re tired, stressed, bored, sad, or feeling other emotions you don’t want to deal with? If you don’t know this about yourself yet, pay attention to your body and use this week to write down when your cravings hit.

3) Plan Alternatives– I find I’m drawn to sugar when nothing else appeals to me.  Make a list of go-to foods that could be a replacement snack or dessert for you.  Some examples might be an apple and cheese, trail mix with raw nuts and dried fruit, plain yogurt with banana slices or fresh berries, or sweet veggies (red pepper, carrots, beets).

4) Increase your protein: High protein foods and healthy fats are best for satiety and can keep you content, especially when combined with  lots of vegetables.  You can also incorporate protein rich whole grains, such as quinoa, amaranth or millet.

5) Incorporate Sweet Vegetables: It’s natural to crave sweeter tasting foods.  Plan to include sweet vegetables (sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, cooked onions).  Other vegetables that can help stabilize blood sugar and reduce sugar cravings include green cabbage, red radishes and daikon.

Carrot Beet Salad

6)  Enjoy Nature’s Candy: Although some detoxes require you to give up fruit, this one is not that extreme.  Whole fruit, especially with the skin, is packed with all sorts of nutrients, and can help satisfy a sweet craving.

7) Meal Plan: Put it all together in a meal plan with breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas.  Make a list of snacks as well, and place it somewhere visible- on your refrigerator or a bulletin board in the kitchen.

Join us on Sundays or check out past links for inspiration!

8) Stock up your fridge!! Make a list of all the foods you need to have on hand by Monday to be successful, drawing on all of the above.  And go get them!

9) Ask for support: Ask friends, family, coworkers, kids, etc to hold you accountable. Use the #sugardetox hashtag or feel free to facebook/tweet/email me for extra support.

10) Embrace the Challenge: Expect it to be hard!! But know that you can do it.  Prepare yourself to stick to the plan, and know that there will be many moments you won’t want to.  Tell yourself now that you’re going to do it anyway!

Oh, and one bonus tip… if at all possible, get the sugar out of the house!

Well, it’s easy enough to write the list… let’s go for it.  In the past, I’ve given up all sweets for Lent, so I know I can handle 7 short days.  And so can you!  🙂

What would you add? What has helped you in the past? What alternative foods will you stock up on?


100 thoughts on “10 Tips for Overcoming Sugar Cravings

  1. Definitely have fruit on hand. When I don’t eat sugar I notice how sweet grapefruit, oranges and other fresh fruit seem.

    Good tips!

  2. Great tips. I’m going to share this with my husband. He has a terrible sweet tooth and eats so much junky sweet stuff. He does not have a weight problem, is actually underweight, but has decided that his recent lack of energy and motivation may be related to his sugar intake (finally, after years of not hearing my little hints!).
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..IHRSA 2013: The Sessions, Part 1My Profile

  3. I gave up sugar almost 10 years ago. It’s really not that difficult. I’m not a fan of “substitutions” (but huge yes on the increase your protein and water) and, rather, think you just need to power through it. Keep yourself busy and active. The first three days will be tough as you go into withdrawal but once you get through those it’s just done and you’ll wish you had done it years ago and you might (hopefully) just make it the new way you eat (or rather don’t eat). I’m not sure if you’ll notice the same benefits I did if you replace sugar with things like sweet potatoes or a large amount of fruit, and if you don’t cut out things like white pasta and many breads. I’m not saying you won’t – I’m honestly saying I don’t know. The whole thing was a life changer for me and although I don’t deprive myself of things I crave (but I don’t crave the same things anymore) I’m pretty picky about what I eat simply because I feel radically better.
    Mommy outside recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – Bling w/linkyMy Profile

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience!! I definitely agree that it’s ideal to cut out the processed foods/bread/pasta as well, and I made that a “Level two” option for the challenge, but kept sugar as the focus for those who want to start somewhere. I limit almost all sugar except dark chocolate, but slowly that was growing out of control, so I’m ready to go cold turkey. I always like how I feel without sugar, too. But it tends to creep back in! Hoping to keep it away for longer this time. 🙂
      Laura recently posted..10 Tips for Overcoming Sugar CravingsMy Profile

    • Personally, I’m not training for long distances right now, so max is 10-12 miles on the weekend and I don’t fuel for those (other than banana/pb beforehand). In marathon training, it would be much harder, but I know some people use dried fruit for mid-run fueling, and sweet potatoes as extra carbs before hand.
      Laura recently posted..10 Tips for Overcoming Sugar CravingsMy Profile

  4. Yup, I think all of this makes sense. I have been thinking of your challenge all day and I think I want to do it! My only concern is that I will have at least one long run during that week and I am addicted to Shot Bloks. Oh well, I can find an alternative. Also, I think I will give up caffeine that week, too. Not a bad time for a spring cleanse!
    Amy @ Writing While Running recently posted..Another Food Movie: A Place at the TableMy Profile

  5. I think you have it covered! I’d add to MEASURE your water. I think I drink enough but actually rarely do until I’m drinking out of a measured bottle.
    Also know that it will get easier once you make it thru the first couple of days. I do better if I make myself REALLY busy at times I know I will crave sugar the most. Sugar habits are tough!
    Marcia recently posted..Jerky GiveawayMy Profile

  6. I love the tips. funny they’re similar to the weight loss tips we give clients. Replace bad foods with good, distract yourself, seek support. I’ve been wanting to give up processed sugar. I have it maybe 1-2 times a week, but I’m PMSing so I’m not touching the dark chocolate this week! Maybe next!
    Carissa @Fit2Flex recently posted..Healthy Enchilada CasseroleMy Profile

  7. I second the fruit and sweeter veggies . . . after staying away from sugar for a few days, they really do taste like nature’s candy. All of a sudden, roasted veggies taste even better than before! And personally, I love fruit for dessert. Also, I’ve heard that cinnamon helps to stabilize blood sugar levels so I always include it in my morning oatbran.
    Michelle @ Eat Move Balance recently posted..Mixed Vegetables with Hummus-like DressingMy Profile

  8. Getting it out of the house will be the biggest thing for me, if it’s not there I won’t eat it. I also need to remove the chocolate stash from my desk in my office.

    The other big thing is having someone hold you accountable for support like you said. I told my fiance about it last night so he knows to support me but make sure I stick to it during the challenge.

    I am also going to log my food all week. In my blog post yesterday I said how I only do it about one week a a month to keep me on track, I plan on doing that next week so it’s all written down and helps me see it and hold myself accountable.
    Laura recently posted..What’s up WednesdayMy Profile

  9. Great tips! Keeping a stocked fridge helps me the most. Boy those triggers are frustrating too though, eh? haha Good luck with the detox.
    Tiff recently posted..Food of VegasMy Profile

  10. Next week is going to be HARD I am fairly prepared shopped last night and stopped myself from buying things I know would tempt me next week. I crave sugar/sweet things after I eat and it depends on what I eat that makes me have the craving. Stress is a trigger for me to want soda which will be hard next week to give up my occasional soda.
    Shelley recently posted..Race to the Rocker race recapMy Profile

  11. Your tips are really good. I am unable to give up sweets completely, but I certainly limit my intake so as not to feel guilty with an occasional treat of the sugary variety!
    Pam recently posted..Homemade Kale ChipsMy Profile

  12. I have not eaten sugar in 10 YEARS!!! 10 YEARS, can you believe it!!! 🙂 Stevia has been a life saver for me, but to be honest, I am not a “sweets” person – throw a salt lick my way any day and I would totally get to licking… As opposed to sucking on a lolli-pop or something!! These are great tips though! The increased protein consumption is especially good! 🙂
    GiGi Eats Celebrities recently posted..BREAKING NEWS: Justin Timberlake & Justin Bieber Duet About ArtichokesMy Profile

    • I am in awe! That is so impressive. Yes, stevia is a great alternative. And I wish I could say I wasn’t a sweets person! That would definitely help. 🙂

  13. i was just going to ask about stevia! Is that allowed? I can’t drink my coffee without it ;). Also my protein powders (Sun Warrior and Vega) are sweetened with it. If I can have those, that’s a big help to my sweet tooth. Protein “pudding” totally satisfies my sweet cravings at night. But then, are those protein powders considered processed??
    And getting sweets out of the house after Easter with two little kids would probably cause an uprising in my house! They don’t get candy very often, so they definitely treasure the little they get at Easter and Halloween. It’s just going to have to be good old fashioned self-control ;).
    Brooke recently posted..Where I’ve Been – A CollageMy Profile

    • Hmm, I’d say it’s up to you. I’m going go try without stevia and protein powders (yes, I’d consider them processed) but if you want to focus on sugar/added sugar, that’s fine with me! I hear you on the discipline- young kids and Easter baskets makes it hard to clear the house!
      Laura recently posted..10 Tips for Overcoming Sugar CravingsMy Profile

  14. oh man… me and sugar are friends. we go on walks together, we talk about the weather, we even dream about our futures together…

    kudos for making the right steps to a healthier alternative. I’ll pin and share to help others that may be in search of similar steps.
    Pavement Runner recently posted..Playlist Thursday: My First TimeMy Profile

    • Haha, I know. I think it’s the hardest for runners- we run off those simple carbs and crave that energy. I don’t think I could give it up for good… just 7 days to prove to myself I’m the one in control in this relationship. 🙂
      Laura recently posted..10 Tips for Overcoming Sugar CravingsMy Profile

  15. I am working on reducing my huge sugar binges and am using lots of the tips you mentioned: more protein, stocked fridge, and mostly know when I am about to be triggered to go overboard.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted..A Thin LineMy Profile

  16. These are all great tips for dealing with sugar cravings. One tip I would add is drinking herbal tea when a sugar craving hits. I like to keep my tea cabinet stocked with plenty of flavored teas like orange, peppermint and lemon ginger.
    Lauren recently posted..Right HereMy Profile

  17. I’m looking forward to the sugar detox! I think my hubby might do it too. I noticed today just how much more I’m craving sugar lately than I was just a few months ago. I think after doing my paleo challenge, I let myself slide back into old habits like a few chocolate chips after lunch, ginger chews while driving in the car, handful of granola for a snack… Getting back on track will help me cut those cravings!
    Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome recently posted..Misleading Food LabelsMy Profile

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  19. Great tips! I’m trying to get myself prepared for next week. For the last 2 mornings I gave up my favorite cappuccino I usually drink for flavored regular coffee with a little non fat creamer. Not as hard as I thought. Then instead of my usual Kashi bar for breakfast I’m going to try hard-boiled eggs-since I eat on my commute to work 🙂 So 1 meal dealt with, now for the evenings….yikes!

      • That’s great Laura! I kind of blew it last night. I have good control during the day but when I walk in the door from work I turn into another person! I’m really going to have to work on that.

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  21. Be aware of the hidden sugars in the likes of sauces and nut butters as well as cereal and bread. Choose low GI foods and combinations to prevent the blood sugar rollarcoaster, try and eliminate sweeteners and particularly avoid those which have known side effects and potential long term ill health effects. Supplementing with chromium can really help, a trace mineral most people are deficient in!
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  24. I could give up the normal “sugar” foods like cookies, cakes, etc. even chocolate, but I crave crave crave pizza, bread, chips, pretzels, pasta! Any suggestions on how to eliminate those cravings???

    • Hi Irene, great question! I work with my health coach clients to do so, but it’s over months… usually going cold turkey is not going to work! I would start by thinking about what you can add to your diet, rather than eliminating- more veggies, more healthy fats, more protein to help leave less room for the sweets/carbs. You certainly don’t have to cut them out for good, but you can learn to crave other things and you’ll start craving those less. I’m happy to chat with you, if you would like more support or ideas!
      Laura recently posted..The Sky is the LimitMy Profile

      • Thanks Laura. Breakfast is still my main source of difficulty! I get tired of eggs, eggs and more eggs! I eat yogurt & 1/4 cup of grapenuts for crunch, but even that is getting old…help! I need ideas that are quick & easy to fix because I work.

        • Great question. I get tired of eggs, too! Do you like oats? Steel cut oats have 8 grams of protein in a 1/3 cup and you can add flax, chia seeds, walnuts or stir in nut butter for more protein or if you are okay with dairy, also cook it in organic milk (I vote for full fat, in moderation). You could do a breakfast quinoa- here’s a pumpkin baked quinoa option: http://www.mommyrunfast.com/family-recipes/recipes/?recipe_id=6048622 or try cottage cheese with fruit. You could also think outside of the box and have a lunch or dinner leftovers, or a salad for breakfast with beans/tofu or meat and seeds in it. Hope that’s helpful!
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  25. I would love ideas for breakfast, going to work makes it hard to eat breakfast and fix a healthy lunch, that doest always include bread! Ideas?

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  27. I an officially starting tomorrow. When I stopped smoking they had us write all the reasons we wanted to stop on notecards, so plan to do that tonight. Things like “sugar causes premature aging” etc. The amino l-glutamine is supposed to help with withdrawel so stocked up on that.
    This is life and death for me. My diet has become more sugar and chocolate than anything else, with peanut M&M’s being my meal of choice. The addiction is so insideous and just continues to increase over time. I signed up for sugar only but amgoing off most processed foods also and sticking with limited whole grains.

    Has anyone here tried E.F.T. for cravings?
    Thanks for sharing!

  28. Nighttime is usually my problem time. After I workout or when I am really tired I go for the sugar. I have those mini mandarin oranges or if I really need something sweet I keep dried prunes and a handful of almonds seem to do the trick.
    Kristina Walters recently posted..In the beginning…My Profile

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  30. Sugar for me takes on the form of chips, pasta and pretty much anything that is processed white flour! Cakes, cookies, ice cream, candy, etc. really has no appeal! so i get rid of my “form of sugar”. I brush my teeth after every thing I eat as much as possible so the flavor doesn’t linger & tempt me to eat more. If I suck on a menthol cough drop I’m not tempted to eat anything at all! My key need for overcoming those cravings is to get extra sleep so I’m not run down and tired.

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