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5 Worst Eating Habits for Sugar Cravings, Says Dietitian

Sugar cravings got you feeling out of control around food? We've got you.

Craving sweets every now and then is totally normal. If you find yourself overwhelmed by constant sugar cravings, do not fret—there might actually be some unconscious habits that you don't realize are making them worse.

Typically, we crave sweets when we need quick energy. Sugars and carbs are digested super fast. Our body remembers this and increases cravings for sweets during times when we need fast energy and calories.

We can prevent these signals from getting stronger by eating enough food throughout the day, focusing on balanced meals, and creating some mindful practices around food. Keep reading for the exact eating habits that may worsen your sugar cravings. Then, for more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of 22 Meals to Melt Belly Fat in 2022.

Skipping meals

Displeased young woman doesn't want to eat her breakfast

Skipping breakfast might sound tempting if you've got a big meal coming up later in the day, but this strategy usually backfires.

Skipping a meal typically uses up your willpower reserves and might actually cause you to overeat later. Willpower is a limited resource; meaning, once you use it up for the day, it's gone!

This is the main reason why sugar cravings feel so powerful at night: we have used all our willpower for the day! Instead of skipping, opt for a balanced meal that will keep you on track the rest of the day so that you don't have to rely on willpower to push through.

Cutting carbs

woman saying no to bread

We need carbs for brainpower, energy between meals, and endurance during exercise. Carbs are stored in the body as glycogen for energy to utilize later.

Cutting carbs slowly chips away at our glycogen stores. Low glycogen stores bring on feelings of fatigue, brain fog, and yep— sugar cravings!

Instead of cutting carbs completely, focus on high-fiber, nutrient-dense carbs the majority of the time. These carbs have tons of vitamins, minerals, and fiber to help stabilize energy levels between meals.

Ignoring cravings

Sad woman in anticipation of an order.

If you've ever experienced a craving growing so strong that you can't ignore it anymore, this one's for you.

Instead of ignoring the craving, can you tune into what your body really needs? Maybe you would be satisfied with some dark chocolate and a piece of fruit, or maybe you want to go all-in and order your favorite dessert from a local restaurant.

Spend some time noticing your cravings when they pop up. Ask yourself, "if I ignore this now, will it come back stronger later?"

Mindless eating

woman eating potato chips

Mindless eating habits affect us in sneaky ways. Sometimes, not being fully present at your meals results in not being completely satisfied. You might notice cravings later despite already eating a meal or feeling full if you weren't mindful while eating.

To practice mindfulness, remove distractions like TV, your phone, or other disruptions. Focus on your senses while you eat. Chew slowly and spend time savoring your food.

Notice whether or not you feel more satisfied by the end of the meal!

Exercising to burn off extra calories

young woman running on treadmill
Shutterstock / ESTUDI M6

While it's true that we can only lose weight if we burn more calories than we take in, that doesn't necessarily mean we need to start burning off all of our indulgences.

Strenuous exercise has significant effects on appetite and cravings and may actually make sugar cravings worse if you are hitting the gym for lengthy cardio sessions.

For an exercise routine that won't ramp up hunger and cravings, focus on lower level cardio like walking and strength training to build muscle.

Caroline Thomason, RDN
Caroline is a women's health Registered Dietitian and diabetes educator based in Northern Virginia. Read more about Caroline
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