3 Effective Strategies For Dealing With Sugar Cravings

Published on 
June 18, 2024
May 2, 2024
Theresa Link, RD, CDE
Theresa Link, RD, CDE
Theresa Link, RD, CDE

Ask Theresa is a weekly advice column by Theresa Link. A Virta Health Coach since 2015 and a loyal follower of the ketogenic lifestyle, Theresa is a Registered Dietitian who is an expert in living a metabolically-healthy life. 

This week, Theresa describes her own battle with sugar addiction and how she approaches sweets as life’s stressors ebb and flow. Whether it’s turning to sugar-free alternatives when the craving hits, indulging in a bite or two of cake with an effort at moderation, or cutting out sweets entirely to keep cravings in check, read on to learn about three effective strategies that might work for you.

Question:

Theresa,

I’ve been really fighting sugar addiction. I have the worst time curbing my enthusiasm to eat sweet treats. It is really my "keto downfall". Once I get that sugar, it takes me several weeks to get back on track. Any tips or advice you might have?

Sincerely,

Recovering sugar-aholic


👩🏻‍💻 Theresa:

Dear Recovering,

Way to punch me right in the gut with this one! This topic lives close to my heart. Sugar is something I’ve struggled with since childhood, and the struggle continues as an adult. 

As a fellow recovering sugar-aholic, I have learned to change up my strategy throughout the twists and turns of life, because one approach doesn’t work for me every time. For example, if I’m under extreme stress, I can’t trust myself to enjoy regular ice cream in moderation. (As if eating ice cream in moderation is a serious strategy anyway!) So what’s a gal or guy to do? 

Well, it depends on the situation, but I’ll walk you through three different strategies (substitution, moderation, and total abstinence) to choose from based on my own trial and error. It’s normal for me to bounce between these three strategies as my life weaves and winds from season to season. The important thing I’ve learned is to treat yourself with compassion and adjust your expectations to align with your current life phase.

Substitution

Picture this: you’re in the kitchen on a mission, rummaging through the fridge or your cabinets for something to tame that sweet tooth. Gah… why did I buy those Thin Mints? Why did I bake that devil’s food cake for my child?

The trick to taming your sweet tooth in these moments is substitution. For those daring enough to don their baker's cap, dive into the endless world of keto cakes, cookies, and other confections. If you’re no wizard with a whisk, reach for sugar-free gelatin + a couple dollops of whipped cream, a few berries with cream cheese and Splenda, or a handful of Lily’s chocolate chips.

Moderation


Perhaps you take a forkful of your partner’s brownie sundae because it’s Grammy’s birthday. Or enjoy a teeny sliver of the world’s richest, dreamiest lemon curd cheesecake at your anniversary dinner.  Some people can enjoy a few bites of cake, ice cream, or chocolate every now and then without too much trouble. If you can handle certain sweets on special occasions in small doses, more power to you! We’re all unique after all, each with our own triggers and limitations we must honor. 

That said, if you find your ability to sample sweets in moderation is starting to do the cha-cha, it’s time to reach out to your health coach. Together, you’ll be able to come up with some strategies to keep you from backsliding further, flipping that descent into an ascent.

Total Abstinence

For some of us, sweet cravings can be so constant that the only way to move forward is to banish them completely from your life. In this case, abstinence is easier than moderation. 

Don’t panic! Abstention doesn’t have to be permanent! It’s a temporary strategy to regain control, and the likelihood you’ll need to live a sweet-free existence for the rest of your life is fairly low.  But as extreme as it may sound, you may do best if you eradicate all sweet-tasting foods and drinks from your diet completely. 

This includes sugar free packets, sugar-free beverages like diet soda or Crystal Light, and–obviously–all the treats mentioned above. If it tastes sweet, you should avoid it until you feel like you’re in better control of your cravings. And if the thought of kicking your diet soda habit sounds tougher than conquering Mount Everest in flip flops, I see you. Switch to bubbly water. It’s about as close as you’ll get. 

As you notice your sugar cravings subside, you can test the waters again with either substitution or moderation. Or continue a deliciously savory lifestyle if that's your jam! Sweets aren’t the only path to deliciousness, after all.

This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or any advice relating to your health. View full disclaimer

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