Fight the Good (Sugary) Fight – Strategies to Take Control of Your Sugar Craving

We participate in Amazon’s Affiliate Program.

craving sugar

I’ll set the scene: It’s the end of (another) long day of momming. You’ve got the kids in bed (kinda), dishes are (kinda) washed, the playroom is (kinda) picked up. You’re done with your workday (kinda), and you’re ready to kick back and binge watch The Great British Baking Show.

The Struggle Against Sweets

But just as you settle into that calm, you begin another battle. As you’ve tried to make (kinda) healthy food choices during your jam-packed day, you are now battling an intense craving for SUGAR. MMMMM… just a few Oreos, or a couple bites off the top of the Ben and Jerry’s pint should do! Until you realized you’ve almost killed the bag of Oreos, and you’ve picked out all of the cookie dough bites in the pint of B&Js. So you head to bed defeated and feeling like you’ll never be able to find that elusive balance of self-care, healthy living, and getting sh*t done.

I hear this a lot. I also live this quite often, so I get it! Before kids, we used to solve a night like this with a long sweaty sesh in the gym. But now, the time and energy to make it there are few and far between. It becomes another thing to do and, for me, I just feel guilty that I can’t get there. And if I do get to the gym, rather than being present, pushing myself and feeling proud, I’m just thinking about how quickly I can get back to help manage the chaos at home, how to fit in the rest of my day’s tasks, and how I could be doing anything else that would actually feel amazing in the moment—like taking a nap or eating Oreos.

The craving’s real, but so is your ability to control it

But, here’s the thing, when that nap and those Oreos aren’t balanced out by some healthy choices, they don’t actually feel that good either. The guilt and stress of not feeling more in control will crush any serotonin boost they may have provided in the moment.

And while we’ve learned that the idea of balance may just be a unicorn of motherhood, there are definitely some ways we can work toward getting ourselves back in the driver’s seat of our activity and diet without feeling like we’re just adding more things we don’t want to do to our never ending to-do list.

So, if you’re one of the 95% of moms who feels defeated by your sugar cravings (I made up that percentage, but it seems accurate!), I have some things (ok, a LOT of things) to say about that. But I’ll try to keep it simple here.

Mostly: It’s not you! That compulsion to mainline sugar is real and rather than feeling like you’re failing at one more thing every day, own it and acknowledge it. That’s the first place to start. Then try out these tips below!

Craving Sweets Consistently


If you’re craving sugar consistently at the same times every day, most likely your body is looking for some quick energy.

Try this:

Check out your sleep routine. Fatigue is the biggest culprit for sugar cravings. Get that sleep under control and you’ll feel a huge sugary weight lift off your shoulders. Also, check out your eating patterns. If you’re having a starchy or sugary meal or snack, chances are your blood sugar levels will spike and dip—causing you to feel fatigued and, yep, crave sugar. Focus your meals and snacks on protein and fiber and save the sugary treats for just that: treats! #treatyoself to a cookie or cupcake because you want it, not because you need it!

Craving Anything Sweet


You’re just craving something sweet. Literally, anything sweet will do! Maybe you didn’t sleep well or you had a 10:00 AM birthday party with an incredible cake you couldn’t pass up. You’d prefer not to add more sugar to your day but you just feel like you need it. Life happens and it’s not your fault. Your body really is screaming for sugar and that’s legit.

Try this:

Have a glass of water. In fact, one tip I love to tell my clients is to have a glass of water before any food goes into your body. It keeps you hydrated and mindful! And you’ll know that you are eating because you’re hungry, not because you’re thirsty (which is often the culprit for seemingly random hunger). Often thirst can cause you to feel hungry. So if you’re feeling insatiable or really craving something, go for water first. Then, see if a healthy, high protein snack will do. A hardboiled egg with some Sriracha and soy sauce or even an apple chicken sausage might do the trick! And just tell yourself you can have something sweet if you still want it after all that!

Craving an Indulgence


You’ve decided you want a sweet treat, but you also know you’ll feel guilty if you eat it or are worried you’ll throw all your healthy hard work out the window if you indulge. You had a healthy day and are sitting down to relax and those Oreos are calling to you. Or maybe it’s Susan’s birthday at the office and someone is passing around some Safeway cupcakes and you think, “I’ve been doing a great job prioritizing my health—I’d love a cupcake!”

Try this:

Once you’ve decided that you want to indulge in a treat, make sure it’s a good one! And definitely choose something with good ingredients. Pass up on Susan’s birthday cupcakes that won’t be very good anyway and hit up your favorite bakery on your way home and get a real cupcake! Save it for after dinner if you can to keep your blood sugar level the rest of the day, too.

Find wholesome versions of the treats you love. If it’s Oreos calling to you, swap in Newman-Os instead and grab the number of cookies that you’ll feel good about eating (don’t bring the whole bag to the couch!). With organic ingredients, fewer and healthier preservatives, and no food dyes, you are doing a huge service to your body by making that swap. While the calories may be the same, the food quality is hugely different and that is a great choice to make for your body. So don’t discount it!

Craving the Temptation 


You’re at a party or a dinner out and someone puts something amazing in front of your face. Everything in you says, “I am working hard on my healthy habits and goals, I don’t want this!” But then the little red guy sitting on your shoulder says, “But I’m a grown up and I work hard! Why am I telling myself I can’t have something delicious that everyone else is eating?”

Try this:

The 3 Bite Rule! This one is taken from the culinary world. You know how at fancy restaurants the portion sizes are super tiny? It’s because all your body really needs to truly enjoy a food is three bites. One bite to say hello, one bite to savor it, and one bite to say goodbye! Anything more is just greedy. So if it’s just about getting to enjoy a delicious treat, have at it and stick with the 3 Bite Rule! I’m pretty sure it’s science.

You Don’t Have to Deprive Yourself

My favorite tip to tell my clients in the beginning, when they may be feeling a bit out of control, is to not ignore their unhealthy craving. Maybe it’s sugar, a boozy drink, a nap, or just bingeing some TV instead of getting active. Those are all real things that our bodies want for a reason so don’t feel bad!

And don’t tell yourself you can’t do what you want (remember being a teenager? That’s the best way to ensure you do the opposite!). Instead, acknowledge it and tell yourself you can do whatever it is that is calling to you after you do one healthy thing. That’s how we start to make the change. That’s how we get back in control. A workout, a glass of water, even some stretching or a short meditation—those will all work toward bringing you back into the driver’s seat.


Editor’s note: This post originally published on March 17, 2019.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here