A lot of us struggle with sugar cravings—myself included. In the past, my cravings were so out of control, they wreaked havoc on my mind and body. I was tired, cranky, and dealing with acne breakouts—it wasn’t pretty.
Since then, I’ve managed to gain control over my sugar addiction, but from time to time, I fall into patterns of overdoing it on sweet treats (who doesn’t?). Instead of letting these occasional dessert binges take over my life again, I fight back with a few key strategies, which ultimately prevent my cravings from spiraling out of control.
Here are some of the ways I cut sugar from my diet, and I hope they help you, too!
For me, this means delaying any sort of sweet treat until after dinner. If I start with sugary snacks in the afternoon, for example, I end up craving them for the rest of the day. This works for me, but maybe planning an ice cream outing twice a week or a cookie splurge on Friday afternoons might work for you. One of my favorite low-calorie treats are these gluten-free almond brownies, which have fewer than 250 calories each and are oh-so-chocolaty!
Eat “Real” Meals
I can’t stress this one enough. Eating real meals—ones that are well-rounded with a mix of lean protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich carbs—makes all the difference in controlling my sweet tooth. Having all of these nutritional elements together in one meal really satisfies me, so my sugar cravings are less intense and more manageable.
Feast on Fresh Fruit
Ok, I wholeheartedly agree that fruit is not dessert. But if you find yourself experiencing intense sugar cravings, fresh fruit is a healthier way to take off the edge. My go-to tactic is splurging on expensive organic fruit. (My favorites are berries, grapes, and apples.) I hate wasting both food and money, so this trick encourages me to reach for the fruit first when my cravings kick in. Gotta eat it before it goes bad!
If you’re a fan of sweet meals, like oatmeal for breakfast or a smoothie for lunch, you can use less sugar in your meals and snacks by adding flavored extracts like vanilla, almond, or butterscotch. Same goes for spices like cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and ginger. Add them for a punch of flavor without all the sugar!
Time It Right
If you’re going to indulge in a sugary treat, be sure to time it right. For example, if you just worked out and your body is running a calorie deficit, you may be more likely to burn off your splurge. But, of course, be mindful of what you’re taking in. A slice of New York-style cheesecake can pack around 500 calories, which is equivalent to running for close to an hour on the treadmill. So depending on your workout length and intensity, you might not be doing yourself any favors!