The Sweet Truth About Managing Sugar Cravings

Managing sugar cravings can feel like an uphill battle in a world brimming with sweet temptations. From the aroma of freshly baked cookies to the allure of a decadent chocolate bar, sugar is a constant companion in our daily lives. While a bit of indulgence now and then is perfectly fine, persistent sugar cravings can lead to overconsumption, with potential negative impacts on our health.

How much sugar is consumed by an average person?

In the United States, the average daily consumption of added sugar by adults, young people, and children is 17 teaspoons, more than twice or three times the recommended daily allowance for men and women, respectively (1).

However, in Malaysia, the daily consumption value of sugar is 12 teaspoons, according to NHMS 2019 stats. This sugar mainly comes from beverages like tea and coffee, in which sweetened condensed milk is added (2).

So, what is the limit for sugar intake? 

According to the American Heart Association, the allowed dose for women is six teaspoons (25g), and for men, it is nine teaspoons (38g).

Besides this, the recommended daily allowance for children varies based on age but usually ranges from 3 to 6 teaspoons (12 to 25 grams).

What is the science behind sugar cravings?

We all find it hard to carb out sugar cravings. Isn’t it?

This blog will explain the science behind it so you can control the triggering factors. The cravings can stem from a variety of factors including:

  • Blood sugar imbalance

Consuming refined carbs or simple sugars causes a rapid blood sugar spike. These carbs come from refined flour, white rice, white pasta, soda, syrup, candies, honey, etc. These trigger insulin release to normalize levels.

So, if you rely on these sources in major meals, then you might end up experiencing a swift energy drop or reactive hypoglycemia. As a result, cravings for sugary treats are stimulated (3).

  • Biological Factors: 

Sugar triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. It creates a cycle where your brain craves more sugar to replicate that pleasurable feeling.

  • Emotional Factors:

Stress, boredom, and emotional distress can lead to a desire for comfort foods, often high in sugar.

We often see people uploading pictures of their ice cream or a sweet dessert with the caption “My kind of therapy” or “My happiness pill,” etc. It is because stress hormones (cortisol) trigger the ghrelin secretion in our body. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone, and its production is often linked to sugar cravings. Since you are stressed, you are running on low serotonin (Happiness hormone) levels and crave something sweet (4).

  1. Nutritional Deficiencies:

Sometimes, cravings can signal a deficiency in particular nutrients. For instance, a lack of magnesium can lead to chocolate cravings.

  1. Habitual craving: 

Some people have a sweet tooth and hanker for sugary treats. Satisfying these cravings regularly develops into a habit that makes your body expect sugar at certain times.

It can be either during work, after meals, or at night.

A Practical Guide for Managing Sugar Cravings:

Be ready to curb your sweet temptations through these practical tricks:

  • Eat a Balanced Diet: 

Ensure your diet is rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. These nutrients help maintain stable blood sugar levels and keep you full longer, reducing the urge for sugary snacks.

Try eating diverse meals that include complex carbohydrates, fiber, lean proteins, and healthy fats to help control blood sugar levels and reduce sugar cravings after meals. Based on clinical research, protein, in particular, significantly controls blood sugar levels (5).

  •  Stay Hydrated

Sometimes, thirst can be mistaken for hunger or sugar cravings. Dehydration makes it difficult for your body to break down glycogen for energy, so you start yearning for carbs (6).

You can keep fruit-infused water bottles with you for hydration and energy.

  •  Get Enough Sleep:

Lack of sleep can disrupt hormones that regulate hunger, increasing cravings for sugary foods. Aim for 6-8 hours of quality sleep each night to keep these hormones in check.

  • Manage Stress:

Cortisol is released during stress, which can heighten the desire for meals high in sugar. You can control these desires through exercise, meditation, or yoga. It varies from person to person; do what works best for you.

  •  Choose Natural Sweeteners:

When you’re craving something sweet, opt for natural sweeteners like stevia, honey, or maple syrup. They can be healthier substitutes for refined sugar because they are less processed. Avoid artificial sweetened foods. These can make you indulge more in cravings. 

  • Plan Your Treats:

Occasional indulgence is okay, but plan your treats to avoid spontaneous sugary binges. It helps you enjoy your favorite sweets mindfully and in moderation.

  •  Keep Healthy Snacks Handy:

Replace sugary snacks with healthier options like nuts, seeds, or yoghurt. These readily available alternatives can help you resist the urge to reach for candy or cookies.

What impact does it leave?

If you do not follow the above practical guide for curbing sugar cravings, then you are at high risk of being prey to lethal diseases and health issues.


Excess sugar intake for more extended time can cause central obesity, which often becomes a causative factor of diabetes. If you become, then you can’t enjoy your favorite desserts.

So, it is better if you control your cravings today and consume sugar in moderation and wisely.

Fatty liver:

Excessive intake of fructose through frizzy drinks can lead to the accumulation of fat in the liver, which can later destroy the liver.

Dental caries: 

You can also get affected by dental caries. Sugary foods and soft drinks lead to tooth decay. Sugar interacts with bacteria in the mouth to produce acid, which erodes tooth enamel.

Skin aging:

Excessive use of sugar produces advanced glycation end products. These AGEs distort the collagen and skin elasticity, leading to wrinkles and premature aging (7).

It is okay to be a bit concerned after reading about the negative impacts of satisfying your cravings limitlessly.

It is an eye-opener for you as you strive to manage your sugar cravings. 

Manage them effortlessly and enjoy your life to the fullest!

Diet Ideas’s dietitians note:

Managing sugar craving is very hard for people with PCOS too, that’s why in Diet Ideas, we help all our PCOS women to achieve their health goals through nutrition, helps to manage the symptoms naturally as well, and additionally, we recommend to consume natural dietary PCOS solution from Concevoir. Hope this helps!

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