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3 Reasons You’re Eating Too Much Sugar and How to Stop

how to stop sugar cravings

I have a serious sweet tooth.

On a good day, that means I have dessert after dinner. A bad day? I snack on little handfuls of candy between every meal.

Recently, I’ve realized this habit needs to change.

While there’s nothing wrong with indulging in sweets occasionally (since ice cream cones in the summer and warm cinnamon rolls wintry weekend mornings are some of life’s true pleasures), my sugar habit is just that – a habit. Anytime you recognize an unhealthy habit, it’s helpful to pause, see why it’s developed, and think about realistic ways to change.

So I did this, and found that my own eating patterns are consistent with what science and research tells us about sugar cravings: I’m reaching for sweets when I haven’t eaten enough protein or healthy fat, when I’m thirsty, and at the times I’m accustomed to eating sugar. 

Luckily, addressing these particular sugar cravings is pretty easy (on paper, at least).

Here are three ways to prevent excess consumption of sweets:

1. Eat more protein and healthy fat at meals and snacks.

Ever notice that you’re starving a mere hour after eating a salad? That’s because your body burns through fruits, veggies and grains pretty quickly. Adding protein from fish, beans, or meats really boosts the satisfaction of meals and snacks. Nuts, oils, avocado and other healthy fats help satisfy you for longer too. When you’re satisfied after a meal, you’re much less likely to crave sweets.

2. Before reaching for sweets, have a glass of water.

People often confuse hunger with thirst. If you make a point to drink a glass of water every time you feel like eating something sweet, you may notice that the water prevents the craving some of the time. Water can also help you recognize that you’re full, which makes sweets less appealing.

3. Replace unhealthy habits with healthier ones.

If you’ve been eating ice cream after dinner for the last decade (not that I know anyone like that…eh hem…), your brain and stomach are going to expect ice cream after dinner. Rather than attempting to stop cold turkey, which rarely works, make a list of things you could do instead during this window of time, like taking a walk, organizing a cabinet, doing an art project, etc. If you keep yourself busy with a non-eating activity for three nights in a row, you may find that on the fourth night you’re not craving the ice cream as much. After two weeks you may not even think about ice cream at all. They key here is to replace your bad habit with a good one.

Any other scenarios in which you find yourself craving sweets for no real reason? I’d love to hear about them. Sugar cravings can be intense and we can help support each other in our efforts to eat less sugar!

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  • shelley hudson
    July 29, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    I crave sweets in late afternoon…hormones? habit? The #1 most predictable sweet craving for me, though, is immediately after I’ve eaten something spicy. I think my body’s soothing mechanism is metabolizing sugar–I’m sure it’s written up in a journal somewhere 🙂

  • Amelia Winslow
    July 30, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    I encounter the same issue! Especially salsa or Mexican food. I think I want those tastes out of my mouth when I’m done eating, and chocolate gets rid of them so very well 😉

  • Julia @ Lord Still Loves Me
    August 2, 2015 at 9:28 am

    I have the biggest sweet tooth ever! I have found the less I worry about it, the easier it is for me to handle. Sometimes, the best thing for me to do is to not think about my food so much. That tends to mess with me more than anything.

  • Mary
    August 2, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Oh dang, yup. Nailed it. I definitely need to remember to do this! I have a SERIOUS. sweet tooth!!

  • Amelia Winslow
    August 2, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Such a great point, Julia. For most people, the more they “can’t have” something, the more they think about and focus on that very thing. I prefer to think about all I CAN have.

    However, sometimes I need to check myself and make sure I’m the one controlling my food habits, and not the other way around.

  • Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine
    August 4, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Don’t have a sugar problem here! Others in my family though….that’s a different story!

  • Maria @ Sift & Whisk
    August 18, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Just came to check out everyone’s blogs after our trip and came across this! Sooo true about #1. Whenever I have a meat (read: protein) craving but we don’t have meat in the house, I turn to sugar, which doesn’t solve the problem AT ALL!

  • Amelia Winslow
    August 19, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Haha, exactly! Red licorice ≠ Red meat 😉

  • Amy
    October 14, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    I’m having a problem with sweets!!!! This has just started the last couple of weeks. I have always loved sweets, but it’s much worse and I don’t know why! Today I had two pieces of pie and a huge piece of cake. Yesterday a large KitKat and Reece’s and the list goes on. I’m 5″7 and weigh 130, so I’m not overweight by any means, it’s starting to be concerning.

  • Amelia Winslow
    October 25, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Amy, I’d recommend consulting with your healthcare provider, or a Registered Dietitian near you (there are directories on, to help you get some answers. Best wishes.

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