5 Tips to Beat Sugar Cravings

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With the “I Quit Sugar” Challenge under way, those of you joining in may already be struggling with a bit of sugar withdrawal or cravings. In my experience, the first couple of weeks are usually the most difficult when embarking on a new lifestyle change. But don’t worry, it will get easier!

If you find yourself with a sudden sugar craving, the following strategies may help you overcome it. Remember, every time you flex your “discipline muscle,” the stronger it gets!

1. Eat something nourishing.

Sometimes our cravings are simply a sign that we’re lacking nutrients. When you’re taking something out of your diet, be sure to compensate by eating plenty of nourishing foods, including a variety of sweet and non-sweet vegetables, high-quality protein and healthy fats. The latter two are especially important for making us feel satiated!

One of my favorite snacks?

almond butter freezer fudge in a small white bowl

Raw almond butter freezer fudge, made without the honey. As your taste buds adapt to less sugar, almond butter tastes surprisingly sweet on its own! Mix up a small portion of this fudge, made with just almond butter, coconut oil and salt, and watch your cravings melt away!

Other quick snacks include:

  • A handful of raw nuts or seeds
  • Guacamole, with veggies for dipping
  • A hard boiled egg
  • Sliced raw goat cheese, served on cucumber slices, if desired
  • Raw zucchini hummus, served with crunchy veggies for dipping
  • A cup of plain goat yogurt, sprinkled with cinnamon (and stevia, if desired)

2. Sip on some tea.

There is something so comforting about sipping on a warm cup of tea. If you’d rather avoid caffeine, there are plenty of herbal varieties available that are delicious!

boxes of teaThroat Coat and Bengal Spice are two herbal blends that taste surprisingly sweet, with no added sugars.

Sometimes, I’ll also mix up a teaspoon of Slippery Elm powder with boiling water, for a maple-scented warm drink with a boost of fiber!

3. Create new habits.

Often times, we’ll eat something sweet simply because we’ve become accustomed to having a “treat” at certain times of the day. We need to re-train our brains to crave something else! Hitting a 3pm slump? Perhaps a walk around the office, a warm cup of tea, or a handful of nuts will suffice.

Craving something sweet after dinner? Try having a cup of homemade almond milk, a few slices of your favorite cheese, or go for an after-dinner stroll.

homemade almond milk in a small mason jar

A warm bath or a good book can be just as comforting after dinner, too!

4. Remind yourself why you’re giving up sugar.

If you find your motivation waning, remind yourself why you started this challenge in the first place. Start a journal to record your thoughts– be sure to mention why you’re quitting, moments when you’re feeling great, and moments when you’re feeling bad– and re-visit this journal often to keep yourself motivated!

You may also find re-reading the “I Quit Sugar” book to be helpful, along with reading over these 144 Reasons Sugar Ruins Your Health.

In case you’re curious, a few of them include:

  • Sugar can suppress your immune system.
  • Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides. (Hello, high cholesterol!)
  • Sugar reduces the body’s ability to defend against bacterial infection.
  • Sugar interferes with the body’s absorption of calcium and magnesium.
  • Sugar can cause two blood proteins – albumin and lipoproteins – to function less effectively, which may reduce the body’s ability to handle fat and cholesterol.
  • Sugar is the number one enemy of the bowel movement.
  • Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance – some hormones become underactive and others become overactive.
  • Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.

Motivated yet?!

5. Indulge in natural sweetness.

If all else fails, there are always “safe” options that you can indulge in to satisfy that sweet tooth. If you’re including fruits in your plan, this should be no problem. They’ll naturally squash those sweet cravings!

scooping peanut butter soft serve

A few recipes that are naturally sweetened with only fruit include:

If you’re omitting fruit, but would like to include stevia-sweetened desserts, there are options for you, too:

Don’t worry if you need to indulge in a bite of dark chocolate, either. Sometimes just a taste is enough to remind you that you really don’t “need” sweets as much as you might think!

I hope these tips will prove useful over the next few weeks!

Reader Feedback: For those of you participating, how is the challenge going so far? Any additional tips to share?

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Danielle @ Clean Food Creative Fitness

Love this list! I’ve done a sugar detox before and it definitely is tough in the beginning! These tips would have been very helpful for me!

the delicate place

sometimes i need to cut fruit cold turkey to stay afloat when i’m cutting out sugar but other times like now when i’m stressed i’ll have 1-2 pieces of fruit a day. usually in season stuff like yesterday i had 1 granny smith and 1 fuji apple. better than downing some ice cream or candy 🙂


    That’s why I’m keeping fruit, too! Banana soft serve is always a better option than what I might grab otherwise! 😉

Jen @ Existential Evolution

Thanks for keeping us motivated. I blew it last night as I was licking coconut nectar from a spoon and off the side of the bottle. Not my proudest moment. It just goes to show how freaking dependent I am on it. I don’t have issues with refined sugars though so that is a start. Back on the horse today.


    I love the idea of being “gentle” with ourselves during this challenge. One little slip up is no big deal, and won’t affect us in the long run unless we beat ourselves up about it! If it makes you feel any better, I had a couple pieces of dark chocolate while staying up late to watch the election coverage last night. 😉 Baby steps!


I’m not doing the sugar cleanse at the moment, but I have done some in the past. I went sugar and starch-free for two weeks this summer and boy was I cranky! One thing that was helpful was reminding myself that after the cleanse, I could have a little honey or maple syrup, but at that moment, I was supporting my body with sugar-free foods. I also found that going to be earlier helped. Sometimes we reach for sugar to reenergize us, and the extra sleep made it easier to stay away from sugar. Good luck everyone!


    Very good reminder! If I don’t get a good night’s sleep, I crave sugar like crazy!

Amanda Jewell

Since starting the IQS program, I’ve been limiting myself to only 1 piece of fruit in the day (I was eating way too much fruit, gaining weight and feeling very bloated) which for optimal food combination reasons is a persimmon by itself in the morning before my workout.

I’ve completely replaced my sweet afternoon cravings (normally piece of fruit + unsweetened vanilla almond milk latte) with 2 eggs in coconut oil with avocado. I’m definitely a creature of habit and find myself craving something dessert after dinner so I’ve been making unsweetened hot cocoa (unsweetened vanilla almond milk + 100% unsweetened cocoa powder) + a side of some Kaufmann’s unsweetened pumpkin butter with a tablespoon of freshly ground crunchy peanut butter.


The last few days I have been eating chocolate/sugar at night in insane quantities. And then I see a few blogs mention this “I Quit Sugar” thing. I wonder if the two are related .. some people quit sweets which causes others to get unusually high urges for them. As they say, we are all connected, so it stands to reason everything has to balance out in some way. yin/yang


    How interesting! I know when I just *think* about cutting out sugar, I tend to crave it more– but that’s interesting to think that it may affect others, too!

Red Deception

I go back and forth with white sugar. I don’t normally eat it in my daily life, but sometimes I want to make a batch of banana chocolate chip muffins to bring to work, and I add organic white sugar. It’s only an issue when I get stressed and tend to overindulge in the white stuff.


I appreciate this post, I love sweets. I think I may overdo it on the stevia, and hope to cut down a bit on that. Even though there’s no sugar, it’s still not highly researched what the side effects could do. Moderation is key, and I don’t need it for everything!


    I’ve been there with the stevia, myself! I do feel better without it now, but it took me a while to transition away from that, too. 😉


      Ah! I’m even afraid to cut the Stevia out, and I’ve been all-sugar free for over a year now!

kaity @ kaityscooking

though im not really doing this challenge i always keep a check about my sugar intake and ofcoarse i go overboard (more often then not around the holidays 😉 ) but the stuff you posted is everything i try to do once holiday season is over! my snacks become mostly stuff like the banana soft serve and it still usually is stuff like that everyday and the more i eat like that the less i ever really want anything to sweet and if i really want a sweet treat i reach for dates as my sweetness and make a recipe with that! goodluck!

Gabby @ the veggie nook

I have a question for you! Are you using stevia at all during this challenge? I am debating whether to use it or not…

    kaity @ kaityscooking

    i actually just got stevia last week for the first time and the liquid version i have put it in a few recipes im trying out but i rather it not in my soft serve and some of the recipes she posted..i think if it helps to use it at first go for it then slowly phase it out !


    Hi Gabby! I’m not using stevia myself, but it’s totally a personal choice. I’m hoping my taste buds will adapt to using less “sweetness” overall. If you think using stevia will help you with the transition, then I’d say go for it!


My tactics:

1) Carrots! Don’t know what it is about carrots, but when I’m craving sugar, I’ll eat some carrots and that seems to eliminate the need for more sweets. Probably bc they’re already naturally sweet (but not super sugary like dates) and full of fiber

2) I definitely do the herbal tea thing. I just bought some Celestial Seasonings called “sugar cookie sleigh ride”, with no added sugars, of course. Haven’t tried it yet…

3) I keep a list on the fridge of “things I can eat”, to remind myself of healthy and delicious alternatives to junk (complex carbs, treats, etc.). That way when a craving strikes, I can look at my list and say “Oh yeah, a bowl of cherry chocolate pudding sounds WAY better than that plate of cookies my friend brought over!”. 🙂


    Ditto to the carrots! Sometimes a bowl of steamed baby carrots is as good as dessert to me. 🙂

    Love the list on the fridge idea!


Hi there—really enjoying your blog, but am surprised that you use copious amounts of peanut butter. While I love peanut butter, Ive been reccomended by a few health professionals to steer clear of it due to its affinity for fungus


    Hi Maria! I actually agree with all those health professionals– I don’t think peanut butter is at all ideal. Personally, I prefer almond butter and use it in place of peanut butter in all of the treats I make for myself.

    However, peanut butter is a favorite of my husband’s, and while I’ve been upgrading his diet over the past few years, that’s the one thing he’s NOT willing to give up yet! He seems to be in good company, as peanut butter based recipes tend to be the most popular here on my blog. I try to please everyone by offering substitution options– almost any nut or seed butter will work in most of my recipes. 🙂


Hi! I finally began my challenge and have been sugar free for a little over two weeks. I’ve been doing really well with trading sweets for fats and protein, but I am super fatigued. I am wondering if you experienced this and if so, for how long? Thanks!


I loved all the recommendations, I’m on the diabetes borderline and I want to shred some pounds. I can’t sleep well due to GERD. I need to get better sleep.

Thanks nice site and you have a new follower here in Puerto Rico.

Finding Arcadia

What about “complex carbs” or foods that “turn into sugar” such as white starches (pasta, bread, crackers, rice, pretzels, etc). Do I include them on the Do Not Eat List? I feel overwhelmed by how much I cannot eat. I mean, I eat like probably around 10 whole fruits a day to try and avoid sugary replacements. I also emotionally eat which is probably the hardest part for me…


I know this is kind of late, but I’m doing my own sugar cleanse right now. It is probably the worst time to do it, too: with the holidays approaching, I am tempted by saccharine treats everywhere I turn.

I usually am fine until after lunch. From the stretch between 4 pm and 8 pm, when I commonly have dinner, I am hit by intense cravings for sugar/chocolate/similar junk, most of which I give in to and later cause me deep regret.

Do you have any tips on how to overcome this late afternoon hump?

Leandro Russo

Very good article with simple and very practical tips to fight our desire and temptation for sugary foods. Sugar cravings is an issue that is increasingly becoming a very worrying and disturbing subject these days because of our hectic lifestyle, job-related stress and anxiety, money problems and personal or family issues. As a result, we do have neither the time nor the peace of mind to eat frequently and properly good-quality, home-made food during the day or night. Sooner or later, we end up craving for and bingeing on sugary and fatty foods (pastries, cookies, candies, etc) not only throughout the day but also during the night, even late at night. This article very effectively analyses 5 ways that can guide us to fight and overcome our addiction and temptation for sugary foods. Personally, I immensely enjoyed the healthy, naturally-sweet and with high-protein foods and snacks I read in this article and I will definitely apply them on my daily nutritional plan. http://www.lifetoliveit.com

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