You may be able to curb cravings for sweets by eating foods with certain nutrients or drinking water. Distracting yourself by engaging in other activities may also help.
Many people regularly experience sugar cravings.
Health professionals believe this is one of the main reasons it can be hard to stick to a healthy diet.
Cravings are driven by your brain’s need for a “reward” — not your body’s need for food.
If you can have only one bite and stop there, indulging a little when you get a craving is fine.
But if you binge and overeat as soon as you get a taste of sugary foods, then giving in to the cravings is the worst thing you can do.
Here is a simple 3-step plan to stop sugar cravings.
1. If you are hungry, eat a healthy and filling meal
It’s important to realize that a craving is different from hunger.
It’s not your body calling for energy, it’s your brain calling for something that releases a lot of dopamine in the reward system.
When you get a craving when you’re hungry, the feeling is difficult to resist.
In fact, a craving combined with hunger is a powerful drive that most people have difficulty overcoming.
If you get a craving while hungry, one of the best tricks is to eat a healthy meal immediately. Stock your kitchen with healthy snack foods or pre-made meals.
Protein-rich foods like meat, fish and eggs are especially good for curbing hunger.
Eating real food may not feel very appetizing when you have a craving for sugary junk food. But resilience is worth it in the long run if you truly need to lose weight.
Summary: When you experience a craving and hunger simultaneously, force yourself to have a healthy meal rather than junk food.
2. Take a hot shower
Some people who experience sugar cravings have found that hot showers or baths provide relief.
The water must be hot — not so hot that you burn your skin but hot enough that it’s on the verge of feeling uncomfortable.
Let the water run over your back and shoulders to heat you. Stay there for at least 5–10 minutes.
When you step out of the shower, you will likely have a “dazed” feeling, as if you’ve been sitting in a sauna for a long time.
At that point, your craving will most likely be gone.
Summary: Anecdotal reports suggest that hot showers or baths may be effective at stopping cravings.
3. Go for a brisk walk outside
Another thing that can work is to go outside for a brisk walk.
If you are a runner, running will be even better.
This serves a two-fold purpose. First, you are distancing yourself from the food that you are craving.
Second, the exercise will release endorphins, or “feel good” chemicals in your brain, which can help turn the craving off.
If you can’t go outside, do a few exhausting sets of burpees, push-ups, body weight squats or any other body-weight exercise.
Summary: Walking briskly or running may help reduce cravings.
Other things that may work
I am pretty sure the three steps above would work for most people to shut down a sugar craving.
But of course, the best option by far is to prevent these cravings in the first place.
To do that, toss all junk foods out of your house. If you keep them within close reach, you’re asking for trouble. Instead, keep healthy foods within easy reach.
Also, if you eat healthily and exercise several times weekly, chances are you won’t get cravings nearly as often.
Here are 11 more useful tips to stop sugar cravings:
- Drink a glass of water. Some people say that dehydration can cause cravings.
- Eat a fruit. Having a piece of fruit may help satisfy sugar cravings for some people. Bananas, apples, and oranges work great.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners. If you feel that artificial sweeteners trigger cravings for you, you might want to avoid them.
- Eat more protein. Protein is great for satiety, and it may also help with cravings.
- Talk to a friend. Call or meet someone who understands what you’re going through. Explain that you’re going through a craving and ask for a few words of encouragement.
- Sleep well. Getting proper, refreshing sleep is important for overall health and may help prevent cravings.
- Avoid excess stress. Same as with sleep, avoiding stress can help prevent cravings.
- Avoid certain triggers. Avoid specific activities or places that give you cravings, such as walking past McDonald’s.
- Take a multivitamin. This will help prevent any deficiencies.
- Read your list. It can be very helpful to carry a list of the reasons you want to eat healthily, as it can be hard to remember such things when you get a craving.
- Don’t starve yourself. Try to prevent yourself from becoming too hungry between meals.
Summary: Numerous other methods may help you overcome a sugar craving. These include drinking water, getting good sleep and eating high-protein foods.
If you can eat junk food every now and then without binging and ruining your progress, then do it.
Suggested read: How to lose weight fast in 3 simple steps
That means you are one of the lucky people who can enjoy these things in moderation.
But if you cannot control yourself around such foods, try to avoid them as much as possible.
Giving in to a craving will feed the addiction.
If you resist, the cravings will weaken over time and eventually disappear.