4 Steps to Stop Sugar Cravings

Reducing sugar will have a profound impact on our health and well-being, positively impacting weight management, heart health and mental clarity. However, in a world where temptation lurks everywhere, battling sugar cravings can feel like a constant struggle.

Science offers valuable insights into how we can control our cravings. By understanding the underlying mechanisms driving sugar cravings and adopting evidence-based strategies, we can pave the way for healthier eating habits and improved overall well-being.

Please enjoy this 25 min live video where we discuss the 4 reasons why we crave sugar and how we can stop this:

Or you may prefer to read on:

Why do we have sugar cravings?

Hormones:

The hormones implicated in food cravings include insulin, cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, leptin and ghrelin. Disruptions in the delicate balance of these hormones eg. during menopause, can lead to cravings despite not being hungry.

Physiological factors:

Our bodies are hardwired to crave sugar due to its role as a quick source of energy. When we consume sugary foods, our brains release dopamine, a hormone associated with pleasure and reward. This dopamine response reinforces the desire to consume more sugar, leading to cravings.

Psychological factors:

Emotions and stress play a significant role in driving sugar cravings. Many people turn to sugary foods for comfort or stress relief, creating a cycle of emotional eating.

Temptation:

The abundance of sugary foods in our environment, coupled with endless marketing tactics, can also contribute to sugar cravings. From enticing dessert displays at restaurants to catchy advertisements for sugary beverages, the temptation to indulge is everywhere.

If we want to stop sugar cravings we need to:

  1. Balance our hormones.
  2. Create good habits that release dopamine.
  3. Control our emotions.
  4. Avoid temptation.

Step 1: Balance hormones

These hormones play a significant role in regulating appetite and food intake:

  1. Insulin
  2. Cortisol
  3. Estrogen
  4. Progesterone
  5. Testosterone
  6. Leptin (causes a feeling of fullness)
  7. Ghrelin (causes a feeling of hunger)

When these hormones are in balance, we can eat a meal and leptin will be released to signal to our brain that we are full and to stop eating. Then, after a period of fasting, ghrelin is secreted from the stomach, signalling to our brain that we are hungry and prompting us to eat another meal.

The regular consumption of high-sugar foods can disrupt our natural cycle of Leptin and Ghrelin. This disruption resembles interference in a radio signal, causing the brain to misinterpret hormonal cues. Consequently, we may experience persistent cravings, despite having consumed sufficient food.

  • Eat a Balanced Diet: Consuming a balanced diet rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates, can help regulate hormone levels and stabilise blood sugar.
  • Manage Stress: Chronic stress can disrupt hormone balance and contribute to increased cravings for sugary foods.
  • Get Adequate Sleep: Prioritise quality sleep as insufficient sleep can disrupt hormone production and regulation, leading to imbalances that may increase sugar cravings.
  • Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can affect hormone levels and exacerbate cravings.
  • Exercise Regularly: Engaging in regular physical activity will help regulate hormone levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce cravings for sugary foods.
  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Excessive consumption of caffeine and alcohol can disrupt hormone balance and contribute to cravings for sugary foods.
  • Manage Weight: Excess body fat, especially around the abdomen, can contribute to insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances that may increase cravings.
  • Hormone Testing: Consider consulting with your healthcare provider or endocrinologist to identify any hormonal issues and possible treatments/strategies to rebalance your hormones.

Our 4 Week SBF Challenge addresses each of these components to ensure you’re doing everything possible to encourage a healthy hormone balance.

4 Week Challenge results showing body transformation

4 Week Challenge results: Kate

Step 2: Create good habits that release dopamine

Creating and reinforcing habits that release dopamine and provide pleasure and reward can be an effective strategy for stopping sugar cravings.

  • Exercise Regularly: Physical activity is a powerful way to release dopamine and improve mood. Find activities that you enjoy and incorporate them into your routine every day.
  • Take an ice bath: Cold exposure causes the prolonged release of dopamine. Even short bouts of cold water plunging can increase blood concentrations of dopamine by 250% which is similar to the effects of cocaine. (If you are serious about your cold plunging, like I am, here’s the ice bath I have & you can use the code: Sally10 for a 12% discount).
  • Get Creative: Activities that allow for self-expression and creativity can boost dopamine levels and provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Find outlets for creativity that resonate with you and make time for them regularly.
  • Human Connection: Social interactions and meaningful relationships can stimulate dopamine release and foster feelings of happiness and connection. Spend time with friends and family, join clubs or community groups, and engage in activities that involve collaboration and teamwork.
  • Set Goals: Setting realistic goals and working towards them can activate the brain’s reward system, leading to increased dopamine release. Break larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks, and celebrate your progress along the way.

By incorporating these dopamine-boosting habits into our daily life, we can reduce sugar cravings and cultivate a healthier relationship with food and our overall well-being.

Step 3: Control emotions

Controlling our emotions can play a significant role in reducing sugar cravings, as emotional eating often leads to eating sugary foods as a means of seeking comfort.

  • Identify Triggers: Become aware of the emotions or situations that tend to trigger your cravings. By recognising our triggers, we can take proactive steps to address them and develop healthier coping strategies.
  • Express Emotions Constructively: Instead of turning to food to avoid emotions, find alternative ways to express and process them constructively. Eg. journaling, talking to a trusted friend or therapist, engaging in creative activities.
  • Manage Stress Effectively: Stress is a common trigger for emotional eating and sugar cravings. Develop healthy stress management techniques, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, time management strategies, and boundary setting, to reduce overall stress levels and prevent emotional eating episodes.
  • Create a Supportive Environment: Surround yourself with supportive people who understand our goals and can provide encouragement and accountability.

By implementing these strategies, we can learn to control our emotions more effectively and reduce the frequency and intensity of sugar cravings.

4 Week Challenge results showing body transformation

4 Week Challenge results: Heidi

Step 4: Avoid temptation

Avoiding temptation is a key strategy for stopping sugar cravings.

  • Plan Ahead: Anticipate situations where you’re likely to encounter unwanted sugar and plan your response in advance. Decide on alternative snacks or drinks we can enjoy and mentally prepare to resist temptation.
  • Stock Up on Healthy Options: Keep your home, workplace, and anywhere else you need, stocked with healthy options to minimise temptation.
  • Practice Mindful Eating: Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and practice mindful eating to become aware of your cravings and eating patterns.
  • Limit Exposure to Triggers: Identify and minimise your exposure to things that trigger your sugar cravings. Eg. opt for routes that don’t pass by your favourite bakery and don’t keep sugary food in the house or at least in eyesight. Don’t volunteer for extra projects at work if you know the workload will add stress.
  • Set Boundaries: Establish boundaries regarding when and where you’ll allow sugary foods. Decide on specific occasions or circumstances when you’ll enjoy treats mindfully and in moderation.

Remember that consistency and perseverance are key.

Bonus tip: Know where the sugar is.


Understanding the sources of sugar in our foods is crucial when aiming to reduce our intake. Often, sugar hides in unexpected places, including processed foods, condiments, sauces, and drinks. By reading nutrition labels and ingredient lists carefully, we can identify hidden sugars and make informed choices about what we consume.

Would you like a specific program to lose weight, relieve menopause symptoms and curb your sugar cravings?

We can start immediately!!!

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