Managing Sugar Cravings

We all seek the taste of sweet foods naturally in our diet, however it can be easy to crave excess high sugar foods for many varied reasons.

We have 5 basic recognised tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami (savoury) however we can become imbalanced in our food choices due to stress, low energy, eating on the run, looking for psychological reward or treat or nutritional deficiencies, just to name a few.

sugar cravings

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Refined sugar is addictive due to the release of dopamine from the brain. Dopamine is one of the principal neurotransmitters involved in creating substance dependence on things like alcohol. The excess dopamine that is produced gives rise to powerful feelings of pleasure; however these excess levels also take a long-term toll on brain chemistry and promote substance dependency (like sugar cravings) which can contribute to obesity, type two diabetes and nutritional deficiencies.

When assessing a person’s current eating plan, it is not uncommon to discover the following habits which can cause imbalances and sugar cravings to occur:

  • Missing breakfast
  • Added sugar in breakfast cereals
  • Lack of protein and/or excessive complex carbohydrates during meals
  • Dependence on alcohol, consuming 1-3 units per night
  • Coffee and tea with sugar or chocolate (45-50% refined sugar) mid-afternoon or after dinner

If some (or all!) of these eating practices sound like yours, keep reading for 10 tips to help regain your balance.

Did you know? 30% of people doing Dry July have changed their diet & ate healthier during the 31-day challenge. Join them today

Top 10 healthy tips to manage sugar cravings

  1. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner more slowly, with small healthy snacks in between if hungry
  2. For breakfast, enjoy protein rich foods such as eggs, yogurt, chia seeds or muesli with nuts
  3. For lunch and dinner, fill your plate with healthy foods, low in carbohydrates (vegetables and salads) along with a palm sized portion of lean protein (fish, chicken, lean meat, eggs, tempeh or legumes)
  4. Before reaching for chocolate when you need a pick me up snack, try a small handful of raw nuts and seeds with a few raisins for sweetness, hummus with veggie sticks or a small tub of yogurt
  5. Eat a variety of whole real foods with good fibre to increase consumption of nutrients, the feeling of fullness and to improve metabolism
  6. Cravings can sometimes be caused by slight dehydration so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your day
  7. Add some cinnamon to your cooking or tea. Cinnamon is excellent for insulin efficiency and used for treatment of Diabetes, metabolic syndrome X and insulin resistance
  8. Try Licorice tea, as it has a sweet taste and is an adrenal tonic which is helpful for low energy levels
  9. Eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir or probiotic foods which provide beneficial bacteria to the gut and can assist in reducing sugar cravings
  10. If stressed – practice deep abdominal breathing, become mindful of stress related eating habits and distract self with a walk, get out into fresh air, drink water, talk to someone or book a Golden Door Retreat and come and do all of above!

Improve your diet by doing Dry July

Dry July is a fundraiser that challenges people to give up alcohol for the month of July. It is a great opportunity to challenge yourself to quit drinking for July to reap the long term benefits of an improved wellbeing and lifestyle, reduced risks of health problems, saving money and having a fresh approach to alcohol consumption.


Written by Peter Rule

Always speak to your doctor before changing your diet, taking any supplements or undertaking any exercise program. The information on this site is for reference only and is not medical advice and should not be treated as such, and is not intended in any way as a substitute for professional medical advice.