Overcoming strong cravings to eat sweets is a common struggle today.
The human brain is designed to seek immediate pleasure, avoid immediate discomfort, and keep us safe.
This worked out great for humans back in the caveman days. But today most of us have constant access to comfort and immediate pleasure — especially in the form of sugar and highly processed food.
That’s why it’s so important to find ways to change our brains and learn to conquer cravings for sweets.
So, today I’m providing three powerful, proven strategies for conquering your sweet tooth, once and for all….
My story with sugar
First, let me say that if you feel like you’re battling your cravings for sweets daily — I GET IT.
…I used to eat ice cream almost every single night.
…Up for a late night fro-yo runs? I was your girl!
…Pancakes and syrup at brunch? You know I was down.
There was rarely a time when I was offered a sweet treat and turned it down. I didn’t want to gain weight and I did care about taking care of my health. However, I also believed that having a sweet tooth meant I was going to struggle with it forever. I thought that was just a fact.
Fast forward a few years — I had a major revelation about food and health.
I turned my diet upside down by cutting my sugar and processed food intake down. I started eating mostly real, whole foods and I felt amazing!
But there was just one thing I still struggled with…
Every night I felt the urge to eat SOMETHING sweet after dinner.
Even when I made treats using better, healthy ingredients I felt the urge to eat more than I knew I needed…
My cravings for sweets were causing me to consume more food than I really needed to look and feel my best.
So I went on a mission to conquer my cravings for sweets once and for all. I’ve done my research, tested different strategies, and eventually found a combination of three strategies that works for me.
Now that I have an arsenal of tools to utilize when my cravings come up, I no longer fear sugar!
When I do indulge in something sugary, I’m doing it intentionally. I’m confident in my ability to move on with my life afterwords, without spiraling into sugar craving frenzy!
Is Sugar Really Addictive?
Before we discuss the strategies to combat your craving for sweets, we first need to first understand them. Are they all in your head, or is sugar addiction as real as any other addiction?
The answer is yes…to both.
Scientists have been studying the affects of sugar on the brain for a long time. The evidence that too much sugar can lead to true addiction has been mounting for a while…
One study done on rats shows that Oreos stimulated more neurons in the pleasure-center of the brain than cocaine!
Sugar stimulates the brains reward processing centers in the same manner as many drugs. It can actually change our brain chemistry leading to binging, craving, withdrawal symptoms, and sensitization — the hallmarks of addiction.
So yes, sugar addiction is a real thing…
But unlike drugs, overloading on sugar is socially acceptable. Sugar is in almost all our food in America today. We have to eat, so we’re coming face-to-face with sugar all the time.
While it’s true that sugar has the capacity become addictive, you have to ask yourself the question…
Is thinking the thought, “I’m addicted to sugar”, helpful?
Most likely, believing the thought “I’m addicted to sugar” makes you feel out of control, helpless, and stuck. When you feel that way, you give in to your craving for sweets again. You may tell yourself other unhelpful thoughts like…
“I just can’t say no”
“It takes too good to pass up”
“I can’t help myself”
These thoughts are reinforced as truth in your brain the second you give in to the urge to eat sweets. So the next time the urge hits, you believe even stronger that these statements are fact…and you give in. The cycle continues.
However, when we take a step back and look at the circumstance from an unbiased point of view, we can recognize that none of those thoughts are truly FACTS.
You CAN just say no — you’ve done it tons of times before with other things.
You CAN pass on something that tastes good — other people do it all the time.
You CAN help it — no one is tying you down and forcing the cookie into your mouth!
So even if it is true that over-consuming sugar can lead to addiction, believing that you are addicted isn’t likely to help you achieve your end goal of conquering cravings for sweets.
Decide to think and believe new thoughts intentionally that will be more helpful for you and your goals like…
“Every bite that goes in my mouth is my choice”
“I can stop eating sugar whenever I choose to”
“I enjoy a having a healthy brain and body way more than I enjoy overeating sweets”
3 Strategies to help you overcome your cravings for sweets:
Now let’s talk about some of the different ways you can approach your cravings.
You can choose to go all in on one of these strategies, or combine them all to craft your own game plan.
The best choice for you depends on your health goals, your personality, and your history with sugar cravings.
Let’s talk throughs the pros and cons of each so you know exactly which one will work best for you…
#1 – The Cold Turkey Cleanse
What is it?
This is exactly what it sounds like. You commit yourself to going a certain number of days with no added sweetener whatsoever. I recommend a minimum of 30 days with no sweeteners, but 60 days is preferable for this type of cleanse.
If you’re going this route, it means putting a BAN on ALL added sweeteners.
That means no cane sugar, stevia, monk fruit sweetener, honey, maple syrup, agave, coconut sugar, date sugar, molasses, allulose, rice syrup, malt syrup, or any other natural or artificial sweeteners. For an extensive list of all the sweeteners to watch out for, click here.
Why it’s great!
This is probably the most effective and efficient way to overcome your cravings for sweets. This is the route I took personally and it worked like a charm.
If you’re someone who loves a challenge, I highly recommend doing this type of cleanse.
It sounds difficult, but actually, this is the easiest route to take because it reduces your cravings down to practically nothing. Essentially, you’ll just reduce the frequency of cravings so you no longer have to bother with overcoming cravings when they hit.
Not to mention, the change that occurs with your tastes buds during this process. By the end of 60 days, a strawberry tastes like the sweetest thing ever!
Why it’s not so great…
By instilling a hard-and-fast no sweetener rule in your life, you never learn how to face sugar and cravings head-on and overcome them.
Instead of figuring out how to handle the occasional treat, you’re reprogramming your brain and taste buds to no longer want them.
As soon as you begin to reintroduce sweeteners into your diet, you’ll begin to slowly start wanting them again…
If you’re not careful, it’s easy to slip into old ways and end up back where you started.
The cold turkey cleanse is a really effective way to jump-start some healthier eating habits. You just need to be very careful when and how often you reintroduce sweeteners after it’s over.
In my experience, after 60 days, it’ll be much easier to limit sugar because your taste buds change so much.
#2 – The Healthier Alternative Route
What this means?
There are a lot of really awesome natural sugar alternatives that can be used to curb your cravings for sweets without the negative impact on your health and weight long-term.
Things like stevia, monk fruit extract, erythritol, and allulose are available for purchase in many stores and are even starting to be used in lots of pre-packaged food products too — which is very exciting for nutrition nerds like me!
Please note! — I would never recommend switching to artificial sweeteners as an alternative to real sugar.
Consumption of these artificial chemicals can have negative side effects ranging from headaches to weight gain. There is even some research linking them to more serious conditions like cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and IBS!
However, all-natural sugar alternatives can be used in place of sugar in your favorite recipes and treats to create the same delicious taste without the negative impact on blood sugar levels and thus, overall health.
Who this is great for?
If you’re looking feel more energized throughout the day, have clearer skin, or improve your general health and wellbeing, swapping sugar for one of these could an easy way to do just that.
You’ll get to continue eating all your favorite sweet treats, but just upgraded with healthier ingredients…it’s a win – win!
Usually you won’t even notice a difference when you switch to baking your cookies with monk fruit, sweetening your coffee with stevia or switching to allulose sweetened cereal (like this one)!
Who this may not be right for…
One thing to be cautious of is that these switching to healthier sweets won’t do anything to reduce your cravings…
You may notice yourself indulging in MORE treats than normal because now you can more easily justify it in your mind.
If weight loss or reduced cravings are your goal, swapping out sugar for a sugar alternative isn’t ideal.
You’ll likely continue battling the urge to eat more food than you need for fuel because, let’s face it — sugar free cookies are still cookies and they taste dang good.
They’ll trigger the same reward pathways in your brain, prompting you to overeat and making weight loss pretty freakin’ difficult.
#3 – The Urge Jar System
What it is?
This is a system I first learned from The Life Coach School Podcast. It can be used to truly conquer cravings for sweets once and for all. Here’s how it works…
Buy a clear glass jar and some beads and you put it out somewhere in your home, preferably the kitchen.
Every time you feel an urge to eat sweets and you resist it, you get to add a bead to the jar.
It’s simplicity is why it works like magic!
But it’s not magic…
How it works?
Essentially, every time you get to add a bead to the jar it provides a rewarding visual that gives a quick hit of instant gratification for your brain.
As you see the beads add up in the jar, your brain starts getting used to processing and resisting cravings instead of giving in to them.
You’ll begin to associate resisting a craving with a new form of instant gratification — adding another bead to the jar.
One reason many of us have a problem with resisting cravings is that there is no instant reward for doing so. Like I mentioned in the beginning of this post, our brain’s are wired to seek pleasure in the moment.
Usually when you resist the urge to eat sweets there is no instant gratification.
The rewards comes much later, when you can fit into a smaller size in jeans or you actually feel good about wearing a bikini to the pool.
The urge jar is a system designed to provide an instant reward for sitting with your cravings instead of acting on them.
I’ve wracked my brain on this one and I truly think there is really no downside with this approach.
I can’t think of a single person who wouldn’t benefit from learning to process and resist their cravings and urges.
It could take a little more time and a lot more effort than the other strategies, but this is the best way to set yourself up for a healthy relationship with sweets longterm.
One final note…
Conquering your cravings for sweets can be hard, but it’s so wroth it.
I’m so grateful to my past self for sticking it out, doing the hard work, and overcoming this obstacle so I now get to weigh what I want and eat in a way that makes me feel good, without missing out on any of the fun in my life.
My mission is to help you get to a place where you can one day say the same!
If you’re ready to go all-in and commit to figuring this out, I encourage you to schedule your free consultation call to learn all about how I can help!
Health coaching was made just for people like you who want better for themselves, but just need support and guidance along the way.
Ready to stop getting in your own way and finally create the health and life of your dreams? Come join me!
July 1, 2021