Kick The Sugar Habit

We’ve all had trouble with Late Night Sugar Cravings Right?? What about “Right Now” sugar cravings or “After Lunch” sugar cravings???

Even me, a professional fitness/nutrition/wellness/trainer/lifestyle/weightlifting/spartan race running/ all things healthy coach, gets sugar cravings. Like……all the time!

I get them after lunch, after dinner, while I’m writing this blog……….You get the picture.

My point is, if you’ve leaned on sugar for emotional support, or maybe as a date night kind of thing like me, you might have troubles when it comes to sugar. Not to say that having a cupcake every now and then is bad. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about those times where you finish an awesome healthy meal and this funky feeling kicks in. It drives you to go on a conquest. A conquest through the fridge, pantry, or maybe that special hiding spot, to look for sugary foods. You almost feel helpless.

It’s not just me right??

Recently, I got this question on our Member’s Only Facebook Accountability Group (we do alot more than just fitness):

“Seriously need help with sweets/dessert, which my brain wants every day. I had my best eating day ever yesterday. No snacking during or after work. Even with dinner out at Epic – I chose a veggie bowl with chicken. But then, the gluten-free carrot cake slice at checkout was irresistible. I know. Ridiculous. The craving usually occurs after work or after dinner. Putting this here, because I am going to be accountable!”

Since I seem to have a similar problem to the person who left this comment, I thought I could share some awesome techniques that I’ve developed over the years as well as some others from some of our most successful clients:

“There are a few things I found that help me.

1) Eating a little extra of the healthier stuff at dinner time to fill myself a little more. This involves another half piece of chicken breast and veggies usually.

2)Also, drinking a full glass of water before dinner, during dinner, and right after. Usually, if I hadn’t had enough water that day, the cravings tend to be stronger.

3) I’ve also found that if im sitting around watching tv after, I’m more likely to eat sweets so, if I can be busy somehow or go upstairs away from the kitchen, that helps as well.

4) (THIS IS A BIG ONE) Chew some gum. I think people forget how much of the craving is related to an oral fixation much like smoking. I haven’t read any research on this but, often times, we have something in our mouths all day. We drink coffee, have breakfast, have water, have lunch, have water or coffee or tea, and then dinner comes and after, we try to stop and it’s challenging. Because we just ate food, we usually don’t want more of it, we want something different so we go for sweets. Plus, sweets literally make us feel good. So, chewing gum helps to satisfy the oral side of things.”

“I SO struggle with this too! But for me personally, consistency is my goal. I know my will-power and limitations well enough to know that if I completely deprive myself, I will go over the edge and EAT ALL THE SWEETS! So, after much trial and error, I am OK with consistency instead of strict compliance to any type of food restriction. It just doesn’t work for me to say NO to sweets entirely. But, I also make sure I’m watching my macros proportions and try my best to balance the carb/fat overload in a dessert with some good protein. And I work out like hell!”

“Try choosing your favorite frozen fruits, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, pineapple, cherries, mango, whatever. I put them in microwave just to soften them up, I like them a little frozen. Then I sprinkle unsweetened coconut on top, then cinnamon. With a cup of your favorite tea it wonderful.”

“I love sweets too but recently I have found that if I wait about 30 min to an hour after eating and just drink water, I can overcome the cravings! I did make peanut butter bites last night and had some of those after dinner because I was stressed after sitting in class for 4 hours. They are a much better alternative to cake and ice cream which is my favorite!” Recipe for peanut butter bites here:

“I keep a bar of dark chocolate at home for emergencies. One little brick usually takes the edge off”

“I can totally relate to what you’re saying. I have an awful sugar addiction, and it is truly an addiction! The thing that works for me is having this protein shake in the morning. It is from one of the previous challenges. It has just the right amount of chocolate and sweetness to it. I have this every morning for breakfast, with a scoop of protein added and some ice, and if I feel like I need a little more chocolate, I add a few semi-sweet mini morsels to it. It makes me feel as though I’ve started my day with something sweet and it gets me through the rest of the day. Maybe if you start the day off with a little healthy “sweet”, it might make the rest of the day and evening easier.” Recipe for protein shake below:

“The problem is most folks are satisfied with “a little dessert.” I just want more and more. For example, the carrot cake was wonderful, but made me want more. I think it is kind of like telling an alcoholic to take the edge off their craving with just one beer or just one shot.”

“I come from a family of sweet tooth, so I feel your pain. And once I start eating the sugar, I crave more. I’ve also noticed that it makes me feel bad, as in tummy troubles, sluggish, headaches after eating healthy for some time. Flavored coffee (my favorite is chocolate) has helped me. It makes the entire house smell good and tricks my brain into thinking it is getting a treat, which it is. Good luck and I hope this tip helps.”

“I brush my teeth!”

So, it seems that some of our most successful clients, some of the strongest and most consistent clients, have habits in place to help them conquer their sugar habits. They also seem to have a healthier fallback for when they absolutely must have sugar.

Natural human tendency would lead us to seek out something to replace the sugar. Dropping the habit entirely would be best but it’s just not that simple. There is a lot going on in the brain when we have sugar. It’s like getting a literal award. So, stopping cold turkey might not work. Here’s a method that could work well using the suggestions above:

  • 2 weeks: Eat a healthier alternative like the peanut butter bites.

  • 2 weeks: Now limit the alternative to 3 days per week.

  • 2 weeks: Now try switching to gum or try the whole food meal replacement shake in the morning

  • 2 weeks: Continue the shake and or gum but limit the after dinner or after lunch healthy alternative to 1 day per week. Once you are comfortable with one day a week, maybe you go back to indulging in some ice cream, once a week or every 2 weeks. The key will be whether or not that puts you back at square one, or if you can move back into the healthier habits.

It’s your call. You have to be at least 90% sure that it’s going to work for you. Comment below with questions and some of your suggestions for kicking the sugar habit!


Coach Joe Rouse

I am a local guy. I was born in new Bern, NC and moved to Wilmington when I was 5 years old. The most important aspects of my life are God and my family. I have a beautiful wife Melody and a perfect son, Aiden. Outside of God and my family, I have devoted my life to learning about health, fitness, and the human body. Through this dedication to learning I feel that I have obtained an education of the highest quality to serve you. I completed my undergraduate studies locally at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education and Health with a Concentration in Exercise Science. Since graduating, I have continued my education through completion of my Master of Science degree in Kinesiology. I have also completed nationally accredited certifications as a Certified Exercise Physiologist, a Level 1 USA Weightlifting Coach, and I am a Master Instructor for Kettlebell Concepts.