Train Your Brain: Beating Sugar Cravings

By: Tayler Glenn

Did that breakfast donut leave you daydreaming of another all morning? Are you someone who heads to the breakroom for a candy bar to get past that afternoon slump? You aren’t alone! Sugar is a sneaky, addictive substance that isn’t easy to walk away from, or even avoid if we’re being honest. A modern lifestyle usually includes highly processed foods, inconsistent sleep schedules, and lack of movement, and cravings are a growing symptom.  But, that doesn’t mean we can’t find a way out!

Why do we crave sugar?

There are a number of reasons behind sugar cravings, but some suggest that the craving is hard-wired. Carbohydrates tell your brain to stimulate the release of the chemical serotonin, or “the feel-good chemical”.  As sugar is a carbohydrate, it causes this chemical to be released as well as endorphins which cause a natural “high”.[1]

As we age, this natural desire for sweet foods continues and is actually reinforced over time as your body receives that physiological sense of reward. When food was scarce or immediate energy was constantly required, these cravings were key for survival.  In today’s world where sugar is added to a number of processed foods, hidden with new terminology, and often cheaper than healthy options, it has become much more harmful.


How to beat sugar cravings:

If you struggle with sugar cravings, here are a few ways to help cut the sneaky, addictive ingredient out of your life:

Eat Regularly

Waiting too long between meals can leave you reaching for a sugary, fatty foods to satiate those hunger cues.  Incorporating snacks between larger meals (i.e. a morning + afternoon snack) can help stave off midday cravings and prevent the spikes + dips in blood sugar levels!  Planning your eating times and choosing healthy combinations including fiber + healthy fats are great ways to stay satisfied and able to make healthy choices!


Use Gentle Sweeteners + Spices

Adding cinnamon to your coffee, smoothie, sweet potato, or anything else you can think of is a great way to take a step away from sugar. This warming spice has proven especially beneficial for satisfying cravings + leveling blood sugar levels because it tastes sweet and satisfies your taste buds![2] All of this without causing sugar spikes + the dreaded crash.  For maximum benefits, splurge a little on the slightly more expensive Ceylon cinnamon.

Get Moving

Did you know that exercise releases many of the same endorphins as sugar? It doesn’t have to be a 5-mile run or 60-minute kickboxing cardio class, but being physically active can help you ward off cravings while you’re improving your cardiovascular health. Try going for a brisk walk, jumping rope, or a quick bodyweight workout when you know those cravings are about to hit! This is great news for those of us trying to shed a few excess pounds since the exercise will burn calories while helping you avoid them in their worst form in the first place.


Catch Some Z’s

Sleep deficiency has been linked to a number of health risks. But, it can have a large impact on your cravings, too! It is vital for balancing blood sugar and regulating the hormones in your body that manage insulin levels, but the cognitive effects aren’t to be ignored.  When you’re tired, you have less willpower and are more likely to give in to the initial craving which can put you right in the middle of another blood sugar see-saw. Making sleep a priority should be at the top of your list!


Give In A Little

Have you ever heard the phrase “Learn to bend so you don’t break”? If you’re trying to walk away from intense sugar cravings, that phrase definitely applies! If you just feel like you have to have it, try giving in in the most satisfying way possible!

You can:

  • Pair chocolate chips with a handful of almonds
  • Reach for a cold apple or frozen banana
  • Whip up a protein or nutrition shake
  • Choose a smaller, decadent treat instead of a cheaper but less satisfying one
  • Eat mindfully


Whatever you do, make sure you find a balance between being accountable and going easy on yourself.  Gaining control over sugar cravings can be a process. So, it’s important to take small steps and make manageable changes over time. With a little patience and persistence, you won’t even think twice when you walk past the candy aisle!



What tips do you have for beating sugar cravings? Let us know in the comments!






1. 13 Ways to Fight Sugar Cravings

2. Stopping Sugar Cravings with Cinnamon