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4 Unhealthy Snacks That Make Your Sugar Cravings Worse

We all crave sugar, but we don't want to make it any worse than it already is.

When you're hungry, the easiest thing to do is to grab the most convenient food item. Although they can be beneficial to preventing hunger, snacks that are easy to obtain tend to come prepackaged with easy wrappers for you to open and devour, and most of the time they're not too healthy. When you're craving something sweet, it's easy to take a high-processed good out of the wrapper, but does it satisfy your cravings or make it worse?

Although the intention of a snack is to fill you up and keep you satisfied, there are some that do the exact opposite. We asked dietitians from our medical expert board what they think are the most unhealthy snacks that will just make your sugar cravings worsen. One thing they had in common was that sugary snacks are one of the worst snacks to consume, along with some other types.

"In my opinion, the number one problem when it comes to health in this country right now is the crazy excess of added sugar in our food supply (and your diet)," says Laura Burak, MS RD CDN, founder of GetNaked® Nutrition and author of Slimdown with Smoothies. "You don't even realize how much sugar you're eating and it's not your fault. Food companies disguise ingredients with healthier-sounding words like syrups and brown sugar but it's all the same when your body processes it."

Burak continues to state that food with excess sugar can send your blood sugar quickly up and down and then signal your body to search for more. Sugary foods also release those "feel good" brain chemicals like dopamine which make you want to keep eating them.

For specific types of snacks that make sugar cravings worse, keep reading. Then, for more on unhealthy snacks, check out 6 Unhealthy Snacks to Avoid When You're Craving Salt.

Sugary breakfast cereal

sugary cereal

"While many of us think it's healthy to begin our day with breakfast cereal or even snack on cereal for a boost of energy, many cereals are sweetened with sugar, contain no fiber, and are the equivalent to eating cookies," says medical expert Lisa Young, PHD, RDN Author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and The Portion Teller Plan.

Young advises that these cereals contain no fiber or protein. Due to this, they cause a rapid rise in your blood sugar. She suggests if you want a breakfast cereal as a snack or in the morning, aim for one that has at least 3 g of fiber with as little added sugar as possible, or preferably no added sugar.


diet soda

"Consuming sugary foods makes your body used to the sweet taste. So if you're used to having a soda with your meal daily, and you skip it– your body will be craving that sugar," says medical expert Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, author of Diabetes Create Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook.

Young says that soda and other sugary drinks are lacking nutrients and are pure sugar. You will digest the liquid calories immediately, and therefore you will crave more sugar after guzzling down a large soda.

"We also do not recognize that we've ever eaten anything and we do not feel satisfied," says Young.

Sugary snacks

Various candy

"If you like to keep candy in your purse or car to snack on, that may not be the best idea," says Amidor. "That burst of sugar is quickly digested and just gets your body used to all that sweetness."

Amidor suggests if you want a better-for-you snack, pair sweet dried fruit with nuts in a homemade trail mix. The fat and protein from the nuts will slow the digestion of the sugar and keep you more satisfied.

"Sugar can feel addictive both mentally and physiologically, which is why a few pieces of candy easily turn into multiple handfuls and you literally feel like you can't stop," says Burak. "Snacks that are made with mostly sugar like candy, chocolate, cookies, muffins, and even breakfast cereals can make your sugar cravings worse and make it hard to stop."

"Jelly beans and other candies are pure sugar and the more you eat, the more you want them," says Young. "Because these contain pure sugar with no other nutrients,  they are not filling and cause a spike in your blood sugar, craving you to want more."

However, if you feel like you need a small piece as a treat, Young suggests portioning it out and eating it after a meal that contains fiber and protein.

Salty snacks

ruffled potato chips

Although sugary snacks are the common denominator for emphasizing worse sugar cravings, Burak also says that salty snacks like chips and pretzels are also contenders. This is because they're mostly made of simple carbohydrates and can lead to eating them in excess.

"Pick better quality snacks that contain protein to help stabilize blood sugar like nuts paired with fruit, or cheese paired with whole-grain crackers, and they will help you feel satisfied and branch the gap until the next meal," says Burak.

Kayla Garritano
Kayla Garritano graduated from Hofstra University, where she majored in Journalism and double minored in Marketing and Creative Writing. Read more about Kayla