Individual blog

20 Foods to Eat When Craving Sugar: Proven Tips for a Healthier Diet

Sugar, oh! We all love the taste of sweet sugar in cookies, biscuits, chocolates, yoghurts, sodas, juices, and even condiments. The truth is, by now, we are aware that sugar is not really the most healthy food component in our diets. 

Is it true that this product is even more addictive than cocaine? Well, the human body is likely to crave sugar. This article will not only show you the lie in that statement but healthier alternatives when those sweet tooth cravings come knocking. We don’t always have to give in to every craving; these tips are right on the money and tummy.

What do sugar cravings mean?

Sugar cravings don't always mean you need sugar. At times, we feel hungry when we are actually thirsty, and vice versa is also true. So our minds are constantly playing tricks on us and, if not careful, can lead us down an unhealthy path. Human taste buds are most excited and drawn to fat, sugar, and salt. If not mindful, we can easily give in to these cravings regularly, which is dangerous. Have you ever heard someone casually mention, 'I'm a sugar addict or sweet tooth.'Craving something sweet goes deeper than being a bit peckish for something sweet. Your brain has been re-wired by your diet to constantly crave sugary foods when hungry rather than a meal or fruit.

What causes sugar cravings?

Sugar cravings are not uncommon, but that doesn't mean they're normal. As said at the beginning of this article, sugar has been identified by scientists to be more addictive than cocaine. How so? Sugar releases a feel-good hormone known as serotonin in our bodies. We all like to feel good, so it's a no-brainer why we constantly draw towards sugary foods; it feels good. We get a rush of feel-good hormones and will continuously chase that "high." 

Some deficiencies, such as magnesium deficiency, make people unwittingly crave the sweet stuff. Mineral deficiencies can cause a person to crave sugar to compensate for energy boosts. Low or imbalanced iron, zinc, magnesium, or chromium in the blood can tire one, and sugar is a quick energy fix.

Your diet also plays a role in what you crave. You will crave sugar even after meals if you have a high-carbohydrate diet. The reason is that refined carbohydrates are converted into sugar in the digestive system and lead to a high sugar surge, which provides loads of energy. But the sugar high comes crashing down, and before you know it, you're reaching out for some ice cream or candy bar.

Hormonal imbalances and changes also cause us to crave sugar more often, especially women. There are points in a woman's menstrual cycle when they are more drawn to sugary foods. Yes, ladies, when you want ice cream and are craving chocolate at that time of the month, it's not in your imagination but your hormones making you crave them. Stress is also a cause for craving sugar as it involves hormones. 

Cortisol, the stress hormone, increases, making you reach out for a quick hit of feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine. This leads you to reach out for all sorts of junk food you like to eat. Insulin spikes and insulin sensitivity are culprits, as well as the hormone insulin. It is meant to regulate blood sugar levels, and the more there is in the blood, the more and longer you feel hungry. Not to mention, insulin also increases a person's blood pressure, leading to further health issues.

Lack of enough sleep will also cause issues with your brain and hormones. Your body and brain need restful sleep to function correctly. Without it, the body's mechanisms start to struggle to work. This leads to hormonal fluctuations that can make you snack at odd hours.

What to eat when craving sweets?

Understanding the source of your craving is the first vital step to stopping eating too many sugary foods. Also, having a conscious mind of your reasons for avoiding sugar will help keep you on the right track. It’s not as easy as you crave, so finding alternatives to wean you off this sugar roller coaster high will go a long way. Our suggestions below include foods and options to help you fight sugar cravings.

1. Fruits

I know you may think, ‘so many fruits are sweet, meaning they have sugar’. You would be right in that conclusion, though a complete statement is more like, ‘fruits have natural sweetness. Many of the sweet snacks we reach for are high in artificial sugar and copious amounts of processed sugar. Fruits, on the other hand, don’t just give you natural sugars but fiber and minerals that the body needs. The fibres in the fruits help with a slower rate of sugar absorption in the gut. This means sugar has been released into your blood at a controlled rate. This prevents the sugar crash you experience once the sugar in the candy bar is digested; a controlled release of sugar helps regulate your blood sugar levels. The natural sugars in the fruit are also not as high as the sugar levels found in processed snacks.

2. Drink water

Your body requires water for survival. You can go up to a month with no food, but barely seven days without a sip of water. Remember earlier when we mentioned that you could be craving food but are thirsty? This applies here. Thirst and dehydration are typically confused with hunger, so consuming water the moment you get a sugar craving may save you from reaching out for sweet foods.

3. Hummus

Pulses, like beans and lentils, are rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Hummus is made from pulverized chickpeas and is delicious and healthy. You can dip almost anything you fancy in this savory dipping sauce, carrot sticks, celery, crackers, bread, and much more. It will leave you feeling full for a longer period of time and makes for a great snack on its own too.

4. Dark chocolate

Craving chocolate? Not to worry, chocolate lovers, your beloved snack can be healthy too. The only condition is that it has to be dark chocolate, not milk chocolate or white. The reason for this is that dark chocolate contains less added sugar than other chocolates. It is also a good source of magnesium, which is needed for hormonal balancing. How many chocolate bars, you ask? No more than 28 grams or an ounce of dark chocolate, so enjoy responsibly.

5. Dates

This is a solution for those of us who find it hard to put down the sweets but really want to. Cold turkey method is not for everyone, and dates are here to save your day. They are incredibly delicious and naturally sweet. Dates are nature’s way of saying it’s okay to have a healthy sweet tooth. They are also rich in fibre and minerals like potassium. You can easily add them to other foods as a sweetener or sugar alternative, especially in baked goods.

6. Cheese

Not all healthy solutions have to be boring. Cheese combines fat and protein, which is fantastic for curbing sugar cravings. Cheese is also high in sodium, saturated fats and calories, so it must be consumed in minimal amounts. Just like chocolate, a few grams will be enough—no need to add another problem while trying to handle your sugar cravings.

7. Eggs

Eggs are full of sugar-fighting proteins. How awesome is that? Eggs are full of 13 essential vitamins and minerals. However, they have saturated fats and should be consumed in moderation—no need to get cholesterol while trying to stop your sugar cravings.

8. Meat, fish & poultry

Yes, fish, poultry, and meat can help you curb sugar cravings. This is because we feel more full or satiated when we eat proteins than carbohydrates. This means you will be satisfied for longer compared to eating a carbohydrate-rich meal. Also, because this meat can be high in saturated fats, they must be consumed as lean as possible. Unsaturated fats are the wrong kind of fat that oxidizes in the body and causes diseases, but saturated fats, if consumed in high amounts, can also cause health issues. Opt for pasture-raised, grass-fed animal meats and wild-caught fish.

9. Greek yogurt

I believe by now, through this list, we can see how vital protein is in controlling our sugar cravings. This is because your body breaks down carbohydrates the fastest before proteins and fats. Greek yogurt happens to be very rich in protein and fats. Always opt for the plain flavor and top it up with fruits like berries or dates, or add flavorings like vanilla extract and cinnamon. The bonus is the beneficial bacteria in yogurt that can further support your gut health.

10. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in fibre which helps you feel full for longer and prevents you from feeling peckish after an hour of your meal. There are many ways to prepare it, so avoid adding unhealthy things like maple syrup or sugar. Bake, steam boil or air-fry, but avoid unhealthy cooking methods.

11. Low-starch vegetables

Vegetables that have little to no starch have a low glycemic index. This means it will not make your blood glucose levels climb high. Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and cruciferous vegetables are great. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibres, keeping you fuller and satiated for more extended periods. Also, try celery sticks, mainly water and rich in fibre, leaving you satiated and hydrated. You can add some hummus or nut butter to flavour it.

12. Beans and lentils

These are plant-based proteins rich in fibre. They will help keep your blood sugar levels steady as they slowly release energy thanks to the fiber. This means you are much less likely to reach out for a sweet treat after having a meal with these fantastic food groups.

13. Pistachios

Nuts are a great and excellent snack, savoury and tasty while still being rich in healthy fat, minerals, and fibre. Though pistachios are unique, a recent study reveals that eating these nuts was associated with a decrease in eating too much sugar.

14. Steel Cut Oats

Oats are a good source of fibre, the soluble fibre in particular, which helps prevent that unsatiated feeling when done with specific meals. The only caution is to avoid all highly processed oats as they have added sugar. Use steel-cut oats, which are whole grains and unprocessed with no additives. You can have a giant bowl of oats and add some sweet fruits like bananas, berries, and nuts to flavor it, as oats are a bland food.

15. Sesame seeds

Sesame seeds are rich in fibre and fats, which are both great for reducing cravings for sugar. The monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats it is rich in pack a lot of punch and helps reduce sugar cravings.

16. Chia seeds

According to research, chia seeds are a nutritional giant packed into a tiny, cute seed. Do not be fooled, as they are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats. They have also been proven to increase satiety and stop sugar cravings. Having  omega-3 fatty acids also means it helps prevent heart disease.

17. Avocados

Guacamole, anyone? This delicious food offers a wide variety of foods to eat and can be blended into many recipes; you must try it. It is rich in healthy fats and fibre that help regulate blood sugar levels. It also reduces the risk of having type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Fibre is important in your diet because it also supports your gut's beneficial bacteria. The good bacteria in your gut thrive on fiber, and refined carbohydrates offer no fibre meaning faster absorption of sugar into the blood and an empty stomach feeling.

18. Quinoa

This seed, yes, seed, is rich in antioxidants, protein, and fibre. You can find it under whole grains in your local store, and this versatile seed is a good whole food option. It will help stop sugar cravings and leave you satiated.

19. Olives & olive oil

Our bodies, especially our brains, need healthy fat to function optimally. They are rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, keeping you feeling fuller for longer. Consuming more saturated fats and fewer unsaturated fats has been observed to improve insulin resistance and prevent blood sugar spikes.

20. Nut butters

Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Their fats and proteins keep your blood sugar balanced and, thus, fewer food cravings. They also pack a punch in terms of calories, so when using the butter, don't go overboard with their deliciousness. Remember, craving sugar means you don't feel satisfied, and that could be because you ate the right food but with fewer calories. If you want more calories in your diet without adding a whole other plate of food, try some peanut butter or almond butter. You can put them in your baking, oats, toast, or a small teaspoon of it and lick away. Just ensure the nut butter has no additives such as preservatives and sugar; try to get the whole food natural type of butter.

5 tips to fight sugar cravings in the long term

This is not a list of quick fixes but rather solutions that can practically guide your diet in the right direction. It’s about ensuring you make it part of your everyday life and continue it for as long as you live. It isn’t easy, so here are a few more tips for the journey ahead.

1. Eat regularly

Avoid waiting too long between meals; you need to eat throughout the day. You run the risk of your blood sugar dipping and creating those unwanted food cravings. Try to eat every 3 to 5 hours between meals and have a small afternoon snack in between if the hours between meals are long. You must eat regularly every day in a similar pattern to maintain blood sugar levels.

2. Cold turkey

Go cold turkey, and I don't mean cold cuts of turkey meat. Just stop eating foods with added sugars and avoid eating sugar itself. This requires a lot of willpower, but it is possible if you are determined enough. Your body will fight you initially, but using the foods mentioned on this list will significantly help. However, it will get easier after a few days or weeks; the less sugar you eat, the less your brain will make you crave it. You're forming a lifestyle, so be patient and kind to yourself on the journey.

3. Say Yes to the craving

Give in a little to the craving. Sometimes it's more in the mind than it is physiological. When you give in, have a bit more than what you would typically consume and combine it with a healthy food option. Have some honey-covered nuts, dip a banana in chocolate or a caramel apple. You will feel less guilty, get rid of the craving, and be satiated enough not to experience sugar cravings. Do not wholly abandon or swear off your favourite snacks; you will come back eating way more than you would have.

4. Chewing gum

Wait, what? Gum is a sugary treat. True, that's why there is sugar-free gum. Chewing gum has been shown to help prevent food cravings. At times, we get bored or stressed and start to get a sweet craving. Also, the taste of 'sugar' will help stop sugar cravings at that moment. We want to eat as a coping mechanism to calm down or eliminate idleness. Get your mouth moving by chewing gum. It can distract your mind from wanting food as a coping mechanism. But avoid chewing gum when you know you're supposed to eat your next meal, as chewing on an empty stomach is unhealthy.

5. Avoid artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners sound like the answer to all your unsweetened foods, but not really. The reason was that they do not decrease your sugar cravings in any way. Also, studies have shown the dangers of consuming artificial sweeteners, such as tooth decay, weight gain, headaches, and more. So if you want more sugar, try the foods and tips you'll find in this article.

Curb a sweet tooth with Eleviate

As you have experienced in your life and read in this article, wanting to improve your quality of life and lifestyle choices is essential. It is the difference between having a healthy immune system and illness. But life is not easy, and we at times knowingly indulge in risky behaviours, including having poor diets. Stopping sugar cravings is not a one-day journey.

You know that you want to be healthier and live better but need help attaining specific goals, and that's great. It starts in your mind. Willpower is sometimes not enough, and you need to be accountable to yourself and your goals. Perhaps you don't have a person to hold you responsible and help you with your sweet fix cravings; Eleviate will help. It is your personalized everyday well-being app that will keep you on track with transforming your mind and body. It will assist you in creating those healthy habits you want, like fighting sugar cravings. Stopping sugar cravings is not as simple as consuming less sugar, but rather a holistic change that is mental, emotional, and physical health. You cannot be physically fit but emotionally in chaos. It is not sustainable as one will fail because not all of you are healthy. Eleviate helps you in all these aspects throughout the day to give you the best chance at the life you desire to have by being healthy as a whole person.

About the Author

Read more