The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 10% of your daily calories from added sugars. The majority of American adults exceed this recommendation through overconsumption of foods and drinks that contain high amounts of added sugars. Sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas, fruit juice, and sports drinks contribute to over 40% of the intake of added sugars. Added sugar intake leads to excess calorie intake and can contribute to adverse health effects such as obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, and heart disease. This means that it may be time for you to find some alternatives to fight those sugar cravings. Lucky for you, you've come to the right place!
What Foods Can I Eat To Fight Sugar Cravings?
Have you ever sunk your teeth into a perfectly ripe watermelon on a hot summer day? My mouth is watering just thinking about it. It’s sweet, satisfying, refreshing, and as my grandma would say, “tastes like candy!” Fresh fruit is mainly composed of water making it not only hydrating but filling too. Watermelon, for example, has a 91% water content, pineapple has 87%, and peaches have 88%. Fruit is also a good source of fiber, which has a myriad of benefits including balancing blood sugar, and is rich in vitamins and minerals. It’s a great snack and the perfect choice to suffice a sugar craving.
Berries, although fit in the fresh fruit category, get their own recognition. Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc. are rich in anthocyanin's. These are a group of antioxidants that give fruit and vegetables their bright blue, red, and purple color. Berries have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which help protect against cell damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Berries are sweet, a good source of fiber, and lower in sugar compared to other fruits, making them a great choice to beat a sugar craving. You can add them to yogurt, or oatmeal, blend them in a smoothie or enjoy them on their own.
Chia seeds are rich in important nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fiber, and protein. They really are a superfood that can fight sugar cravings. There are many studies that show how a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids can lead to neurodegenerative disorders like depression, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson’s disease. They are crucial for the normal functioning and development of the brain. Not only that, but omega-3 fatty acids increase dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released from the brain that makes us feel satisfied and crave more as part of our reward system. Because of this, we can actually crave omega-3s, which is a good thing! Sugar also releases dopamine which is why we tend to crave sugary foods. By consuming more omega-3-rich foods instead of sugar, we can actually begin to want more of this highly nutritious nutrient.
Chia seeds are also a great source of soluble fiber which is an indigestible nutrient that swells in our GI tract making us feel full and can prevent sugar cravings. They also contain a high amount of protein which is a very satiating macronutrient. Add chia seeds to smoothies, homemade granola, yogurt, and oatmeal, on top of fruit, or you can make your own chia pudding. Try out a tasty recipe here!
Yogurt is a rich source of protein and calcium. Studies have shown that these key nutrients influence appetite, energy intake, and curve cravings. Choose a yogurt that contains live probiotic cultures and is free from added sugars. Try adding your chia seeds or fresh fruit on top for the added benefits.
Smoothies are a great option when you’re hungry and looking for something sweet. When adding the right ingredients, they can be packed with all three macronutrients and antioxidants, making them a great addition to your menu for the day. Smoothies can be made with fresh fruit, yogurt, and chia seeds which, as we know, can fight sugar cravings and are satisfying.
You may know sweet potatoes to be the ultimate complex carbohydrate. They contain fiber, and a little protein, and are rich in Vitamin C, A, and potassium. As mentioned in the name, sweet potatoes are very sweet, so they are a great food choice when your sweet tooth hits. Although don’t let the sweet taste fool you, sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index meaning that they don’t cause a major spike in your blood sugar. They help regulate a healthy rise in insulin while avoiding a sudden crash, which can lead to fatigue and more cravings.
Nuts and seeds are energy-dense and contain essential nutrients including protein and omega-3s. They can help you feel fuller longer so you are less likely to experience sugar cravings later in the day. Although very nutritious, nuts have a high-fat content so be mindful of how much you are eating in one sitting. Overconsumption can make it more difficult for those who are trying to lose weight. Try having a handful of walnuts or almonds as a snack, or keep some on hand with you to satiate your hunger.
Yes, chocolate made the list! Many people reach for chocolate when craving sugar. Next time opt for dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Dark chocolate contains less sugar and contains 70% or more cocoa than milk chocolate. Cocoa is high in healthy polyphenols that may help prevent the risk of certain diseases. Choose a few squares of dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate next time you need to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Dates are nutrient-dense dried fruit that contains important nutrients such as fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron, and antioxidants. Suprisingly, they are also very sweet and can easily help you fight sugar cravings. Many people may be familiar with dates but may not consume them because they don’t know how to prepare them. Dates have many different uses such as being blended in smoothies or sauces, they can be chopped and added to salads and different dishes, or they can be baked and made into energy balls, or other baked goods. Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up some dates and experiment with the many ways to enjoy them.
Meat and Fish
As mentioned earlier, protein is a satiating macronutrient. Opt for high-quality sources of protein such as lean meats (turkey, poultry, beef), and fresh fish. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, and mackerel are also rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids as well. It is important to maintain a higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratio through our diet in order to lower inflammation and sharpen cognitive function. Omega-3s also produce dopamine which makes us feel good!
Be sure to include a a good source of protein with every meal and snack to regulate appetite and cravings.
Eggs are another high-protein source that can curve your cravings and suffice appetite. In addition to being high in protein, they also contain various nutrients such as Vitamin B12, iron, selenium, Vitamin E and potassium. Studies have shown that including a rich source of protein with breakfast was associated with increased satiety throughout the day and reduction in appetite. Prepare a batch of hard-boiled eggs in the morning and have them on hand for an easy, nutritious snack.
Foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and yogurt go through a fermentation process that produces beneficial bacteria. Regular consumption of these foods help increase the number of good bacteria in your gut and can outweigh the “bad” or un-beneficial bacteria. Maintaining good gut health directly impacts the health of your entire body. You have probably heard of the gut-brain connection. These two organs are constantly in direct communication with one another, and help regulate body processes and the production of hormones - including hunger hormones. Therefore, a health gut microbiota can influence appetite and hunger cues.
Fight Those Sugar Cravings
Cravings; we all experience them at one point or another. When the occasion sugar cravings becomes a regular occurrence, it may be time to look into ways to break these habits in order to feel your best. Try some of these delicious foods to fight your next sugar craving, and kick your sweet tooth to the curb!
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Sara Chille See all the author’s articles