The #1 Best Eating Habit That Crushes Your Sugar Cravings, Says Dietitian
The first step toward overcoming those intense cravings for candy, soda, cookies, and other sugary treats is recognizing what you're up against: a multi-billion-dollar food industry that desperately wants to keep selling you processed food that's inexpensive to produce and highly profitable.
"Food scientists work day and night to create certain foods that they know chemically affect us to crave more and more," says Lon Ben-Asher, RD, LD/N, a registered dietitian nutritionist at the Pritikin Longevity Center. "And sugar has become our drug of choice."
Breaking free of sugar's grip is challenging but certainly doable by using the same sort of behavior-modifying technique that got us hooked in the first place: daily practice. We developed a taste for certain flavor profiles by tasting them over and over, so Ben-Asher suggests one effective way to modify behavior is by "incrementally changing your taste acuity" by focusing on food quality.
You'll want to progressively eat less processed stuff and more whole foods to curb sugar cravings. "Your palate will change over time; it may take a few days for some, longer for others," he says. "But you'll find vegetables start tasting better, fruits sweeter. We have people who start our program saying fruits aren't very sweet and later saying they taste like dessert."
The easiest way to start changing your taste acuity is by eating fruit as a substitute for sugary foods, like highly sugared desserts, sugar-sweetened beverages, and other highly processed foods, says the 17-year veteran dietitian. "No one has ever developed a sugar addiction because they consumed too much fruit," he says. "So, one way to control cravings for sweets is to eat more fruit.
Read on to learn more about how increasing fruit intake can crush sugar cravings, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss The #1 Best Juice to Drink Every Day, Says Science.
Replace sugary foods with fruit to curb sugar cravings.
Fruit is nutrient-dense, and it contains a lot of dietary fiber, which keeps the food in your stomach longer to stave off hunger. It controls blood sugar as well because a lot of fruits contain soluble fiber that acts as a gel in your intestinal tract and helps modulate blood sugars."
For more tips on avoiding high blood sugar, prediabetes, and diabetes, pick up a copy of our book The 14-Day No Sugar Diet.
Pair fruit with other fiber-rich food to crush sugar cravings faster.
Part of the Pritikin diet philosophy is building meals around whole foods and focusing on what they call "the #1 goal: satiety per calorie." That's achieved by choosing foods that will create the highest level of fullness and stay in the stomach the longest at the lowest calorie cost.
That points to another eating habit Ben-Asher recommends to control blood sugar and cravings: "We encourage people to eat fruit not by itself but in combination with other fiber-rich food sources like vegetables. It'll give you your greatest bang for your buck, helping you lose weight, which will also help your blood sugar control." You can also try combining fruit with proteins and fats like nuts and seeds, and no-added-sugar peanut butter to stay fuller longer, he says. "There's no one-size-fits-all approach."
Best cravings-busting fruits
All fruit works to crush cravings, says Ben-Asher, although he's partial to berries due to their high fiber content. All types of fruit offer beneficial vitamins and satiating fiber.
For other ways to get more fiber in your diet, check out our story Popular Foods With More Fiber Than Oatmeal.