How To Stop Sugar Cravings Instantly? Causes and What Will Help

Are you constantly craving sugar at night? Or perhaps at work or school to get the energy to handle just one more task? If so, you’re not alone—the proof is in the numbers. The U.S. candy market is expected to grow to $20.72 billion by 2031 (1), which highlights how much we consume sugar

When it comes to curbing your brain’s pressing demand for sugar, drinking fully raw lemon juice has been proven to be one of the most effective instant treatments. However, there are more options than traumatising your tongue with sour and bitter flavours. In fact, there are up to seven food types you can try to combat your sugar cravings, which we’ll delve into below.

But first, we will discuss the causes of a sweet tooth, as understanding these can help you curb your cravings more effectively in the long run.

What causes sugar cravings?

Why do you crave sweets? Is it simply because you have a sweet tooth, or are there underlying causes? How to stop sugar cravings instantly? Read on to find out!

How to Stop Sugar Cravings Instantly Causes and What Will Help 01

Low Magnesium 

Magnesium plays a vital role in the human body. It helps synthesize serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Besides that, it is a cofactor for enzymes that regulate insulin and glucose levels. So, it’s no wonder that a deficiency can wreak havoc on your body. Without sufficient magnesium, you have lower serotonin levels and impaired glucose use, causing sugar cravings. 

Blood sugar fluctuations 

A drop in your blood sugar may be the culprit causing your sugar cravings. If you have low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), your body will crave sweet things like chocolate or candy. Keep your blood sugar levels within the normal range by exercising, eating foods with a low glycemic index (GI), like whole grains and nuts, or taking medications if you’ve been diagnosed with hypoglycemia. 

Conditioning 

Sometimes, sugar cravings simply result from conditioning. Eating sugar increases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good. This can lead you to associate sugar with reward, hence the constant reach for sugary items. 

Poor sleep 

Do you regularly get a good night’s sleep? If not, this may be the cause of your sugar addiction. In fact, poor sleep can greatly compromise microbiome, metabolic, and hormonal health, causing you to gravitate towards sugary snacks. Your brain may tell you to grab sweets when you’re tired to make yourself feel better. However, this may work in the short term. Yet, the sugar rush turns into a never-ending sugar consumption cycle. 

Stress and anxiety 

When exposed to acute stress, the brain requires 12 percent more energy than it does under normal circumstances (2). This can result in cravings for sugary snacks, which provide a quick energy boost. However, while this may ease stress and anxiety, it’s a temporary and unhealthy solution. 

Diabetes 

A study about the relationship between cravings and type 2 diabetes found that people with high HbA1c levels crave sweets and pastries, which indicates a connection between diabetes and sugar cravings (3). This could result from low insulin levels. In fact, without insulin, cells can’t absorb glucose for energy production. That’s why you may crave sugar as a quick energy source. 

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How to curb sugar cravings

“What can I take to stop sugar cravings?” Sugar cravings aren’t like headaches that you can relieve with an aspirin. You must eat the right foods and make lifestyle changes to beat sugar cravings. Still, don’t put too much pressure on yourself—take things one day at a time and be patient with yourself.

Seven foods that curb sugar cravings

You can’t stop eating sweets? It may be because you’re hungry or lacking essential nutrients like magnesium. Here are some foods that can help control your sugar cravings:

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1. Berries 

Why not replace the unhealthy sugar hankerings with a healthy option? Berries—all kinds—can help. They’re sweet and low-glycemic (their GI ranges from 25 to 53 depending on the type). In fact, they can control your cravings and prevent spikes in your blood sugar (4).

2. Chia seeds 

Small as they are, chia seeds are powerful sugar-craving fighters. Their high nutritional profile—omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein—helps you feel fuller, reducing your likelihood of craving sugar (5). Chia seeds are versatile and can enhance the flavor of your water, milk, yogurt, or smoothies. 

3. Lemon juice 

As mentioned earlier, blood sugar fluctuation commonly contributes to sugar cravings. This means that foods or drinks that regulate your blood sugar levels can help control your sweet tooth. Incorporate lemon juice into your diet, particularly after high-carb meals. Research suggests lemon juice can lower glycemic response and manage blood glucose levels (6). 

4. Dark chocolate 

If chocolate is your favorite sugary treat, you don’t have to give it up entirely. Just switch milk chocolate to dark chocolate to combat your sugar cravings. Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium—roughly 0.00127oz of magnesium in a 100 kcal serving that helps manage extreme sugar cravings. 

5. Avocado 

Sometimes, sugar cravings are your body’s way of signaling hunger. Rather than reaching for candy, eat hunger-suppressing foods like avocados instead of refined carbohydrates like pastries. Avocados provide healthy fats and fibers, allowing you to stay fuller for longer. 

6. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are packed with essential nutrients like magnesium, protein, and healthy fats. These nutrients can help beat sweet cravings stemming from nutrient deficiency. They also have a high fiber content, which can promote feelings of fullness for longer. If you’re full, you’ll be less prone to sugar cravings than when you’re hungry. 

7. Spices

What better way to start your morning than with a warm drink sweetened with syrup or sugar, right? While this may make you feel better immediately, it can condition you to sweet treats. Opt for spices like ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon rather than add sugar or syrup to your morning drink. Studies have found cinnamon to be a particularly favorable spice. In fact, 0.11 to 0.21 ounces of cinnamon can lower blood glucose and sugar, controlling your cravings (7). 

What stops sugar cravings beyond your diet?

What do you do if you incorporate the above-mentioned foods into your diet but still experience sugar cravings? Here are more tips to fight sugar cravings:

How to Stop Sugar Cravings Instantly Causes and What Will Help 03

Get enough sleep 

A recent study has shown a correlation between sleep, blood glucose levels, and cravings (8). According to this study, insufficient sleep or sleep disruptions alter blood glucose levels and increase one’s appetite for sugar. Compromised sleep also disrupts the gut microbiome and causes hormonal and metabolic dysregulation. 

Create and stick to a consistent sleep schedule to prevent cravings. If you have difficulty sleeping, reduce the amount of light in your bedroom, minimize your screen time, and avoid drinking caffeine before bed. 

Get your mind off sugar 

This is easier said than done, right? However, if you assess your cravings, you’ll come to the conclusion that sometimes you simply want to eat sugar because you’re bored. 

Try to get your mind off sugar by keeping yourself busy. You can go for a walk, exercise, focus on your work, etc. Mindfulness is a great tool to begin practicing, as is mind-body attunement (aligning your mental and physical aspects). This way, you can pay attention to real hunger cues or other body needs. To promote mind-body attunement, try techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and journaling whenever you experience a craving.

Drink water 

Before you reach for your favorite candy or cookies, drink some water. Sometimes, we mistake dehydration for hunger and eat sugary foods while all our bodies need is water. Ideally, women should drink around 91.3 fl oz of water and men 125.11 fl oz daily to stay hydrated (9). 

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What causes sugar cravings at night?

“Why do I crave sweets at night?” If you’re wondering this, you’re not alone. Many people experience night cravings for sweets and other sugary treats. These cravings could result from many factors, including:

  • Nutrition deficiency: As with daytime cravings, night cravings may result from nutrient deficiency, particularly among people following restrictive diets. 
  • Blood sugar fluctuations: If your blood sugar drops at night, your brain could send craving ‘signals’ to regulate your levels. 
  • Hormonal imbalance: This can destabilize your insulin and blood sugar levels, leading you to turn to sugar. 
  • Microbiome imbalances: The microbiome is at the epicenter of our health, regulating hormones, mood, and metabolic health. 
  • Circadian disruption: If you don’t get enough sleep or constantly have to deal with disruptions, your glucose metabolism will be off. This state will cause a spike in sugar cravings. 
  • Stress: Stress can cause sugar cravings by triggering the production of cortisol and other hormones. 

So, how do you stop craving sweets at night? Well, start by changing your diet. Incorporate foods rich in magnesium, like nuts and dark chocolate, to regulate insulin levels. Besides that, get at least seven hours of sleep daily, stay hydrated, and manage your stress levels by implementing constructive self-care strategies and incorporating appropriate movement or exercise into your routine (10). 

How to stop eating sweets

Many people can’t stop eating sweets because of sugar’s impact on the brain’s reward system. With every bite of your favorite candy dopamine is released, making you feel good.

How do you stop craving dessert after a meal or the sugar rush when you’re feeling down? Here’s how to get rid of a sweet tooth:

How to Stop Sugar Cravings Instantly Causes and What Will Help 04

Eat filling meals 

While hunger and sugar cravings are two entirely different things, they’re related. When you’re hungry, you’re more likely to surrender to your cravings for sweets than when you’re full. For that reason, add whole foods with a lot of protein and fiber into your diet to stay fuller for longer. This way, you can better fight your urges when you crave candy or your favorite sugary snack. 

Try lemon water after your meals 

This may be precisely what you need if you’re wondering how to stop craving sweets after a meal. Research on the impact of sour stimuli on the brain indicates that sour tastes evoke aversion in mammals (11). That way, taking lemon water after meals rather than sweet desserts may reduce your cravings for anything else. 

Get support 

Sometimes, sweet cravings may be triggered by emotions like stress or anxiety. While the sugar rush may help you feel better for a while, the results don’t last. If you’re constantly feeling stressed or anxious, seek help from a professional like a therapist or counselor. They can guide you on how to cure a sweet tooth by providing practical emotional management tips. 

Alternatively, you can try meditation and mindfulness whenever you feel a craving coming due to stress. These practices can calm your mind and ease stress, potentially reducing your sweets cravings. 

Healthy sugar foods for diabetes and non-diabetes

Contrary to popular belief, the body doesn’t need added sugar to survive. However, resisting cravings is challenging for anyone struggling with cravings. If you’re trying to reduce sugar, opt for natural sugar foods like:

  • Berries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Apples 
  • Pears 
  • Pomegranates

These fruits can benefit people with diabetes as they may help reduce blood pressure and improve post-meal blood sugar levels. Still, you should always seek professional advice from your doctor to determine what’s good for you. 

If you don’t have diabetes, you can eat other fruits, like bananas, pineapples, and watermelons, provided you consume them moderately. These fruits may not be suitable for people with diabetes as they have a high sugar content. 

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Am I diabetic if I crave sugar? 

Not necessarily. Blood sugar fluctuation is just one contributor to sugar cravings. They can result from numerous other factors, including nutrient deficiencies, poor sleep, conditioning, etc. See a doctor for a proper diagnosis. 

What are the three main signs of diabetes?

While there are many symptoms of diabetes, common ones include polyuria (increased urination), polydipsia (increased thirst), and polyphagia (increased appetite). The third may manifest as increased sugar cravings. 

Can pre-diabetes make you crave sugar?

Constant hunger can be a pre-diabetes symptom. So, you may find yourself increasingly reaching for sugary foods if you have pre-diabetes. 

What are the warning signs of pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes warning signs may include increased hunger, thirst, urination, fatigue, weight loss, and blurred vision. Some people also have darkened skin and small skin growths around the armpits and neck. However, it’s worth noting that many people show no symptoms. Therefore, you need to see your doctor regularly for blood sugar screenings.

Can sugar cravings go away?

No. Completely eliminating sugar cravings can be challenging, especially if hormonal imbalances or emotional triggers cause them. However, they can become more manageable with the right strategies. 

Make lifestyle changes, like prioritizing your sleep and emotional well-being, adopting healthy eating habits, and incorporating effective stress management techniques like meditation into your life. 

Summary

Looking for natural ways to curb sugar cravings or stop craving sweets at night? Learn what causes sugar cravings and follow the tips discussed in our post. You can beat sugar cravings by changing your diet, managing stressful situations, getting sufficient sleep, and conditioning your mind to avoid sugar. 

No magic pill exists that can instantly stop cravings. Still, you can control them and, over time, learn how to live without added sugar. Take time to understand the causes of sugar cravings and try different strategies to overcome them until you find something that works. If you have diabetes, seek advice from your doctor.

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Lauren-Ann

Medical reviewed by Lauren Ann Teeter, CNS, LCSW

Functional & Integrative Approach To Mental Health, Functional Nutrition, Functional & Integrative Medicine, Psychotherapy, Mental Health

Lauren-Ann

Medical reviewed by Lauren Ann Teeter, CNS, LCSW

Functional & Integrative Approach To Mental Health, Functional Nutrition, Functional & Integrative Medicine, Psychotherapy, Mental Health

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