If you have a sweet tooth, these tips for curbing cravings can help you keep your blood sugar levels under control.
For people with type 2 diabetes, you know that controlling your carbohydrate and sugar intake is key to managing your blood sugars.
Most healthy eating guidelines stress the importance of limiting added sugars in the diet. But it can be especially difficult to overcome cravings for sweets.
Here are some tips to help you reduce sugar cravings and stay on track with your diabetes management.
Eating high protein foods can help you feel fuller sooner and stay full longer. Protein increases the production of a gut hormone that not only signals you to feel full but also helps you feel satisfied.
Not sure how much to eat? This calculator provides protein intake recommendations from the American Dietetic Association, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization based on your personal data.
Some examples of foods that are high in protein include:
When looking to increase protein intake, I recommend replacing mayonnaise, cream cheese, and other creamy ingredients in recipes with plain Greek yogurt. I also recommend using vanilla protein shakes as a milk substitute in dry cereal, coffee, and oatmeal.
You don’t need social media-worthy plates of food or fancy containers to pack it in, but it’s a good idea to have your meals planned out for the day. This avoids any out-of-the-blue afternoon temptations at the vending machines or the day-old donuts in the break room at work.
One way to do this is to follow the half-plate rule. Fill half of your plate with leafy green vegetables, one quarter with lean protein, and the other quarter with carbs.
According to Christa Gonzalez RD, CNSC, planning meals can help prevent getting too hungry and eating high-carbohydrate convenience foods. For help planning your meals, consider consulting a registered dietitian.
Fiber can help regulate your appetite and even improve insulin sensitivity.
Sources of fiber include:
If you still have difficulty with getting enough fiber in your diet, talk with your doctor about taking over-the-counter fiber supplements. Try to avoid the sugary gummy options, though, as these can be a hidden source of sugars, too.
Sometimes restricting foods too much can result in binging. It’s no secret that when you withhold and restrict certain foods, it makes you want them more.
This can even lead to binge eating, where you eat large quantities of food in a short period of time. Consider allowing yourself a reasonable sweet treat a few days per week.
And if you, or someone you know, is experiencing symptoms related to an eating disorder, you can seek help at NEDA.org.
If you’re well-hydrated, it’s possible that you’ll feel less hungry. The National Academy of Medicine recommends 2.7 liters (L) per day in women and 3.7 L per day in men in the United States. This is about three of those popular stainless-steel water bottles per day.
Try to limit full-sugar soft drinks and use juices and juice drinks sparingly, as they can be hidden sources of added sugar.
But there are a variety of lower-sugar or sugar-free beverage options that you can try as an alternative to plain water. In fact, in their 2023 Standards of Care in Diabetes guidelines, the American Diabetes Association states that low and no-calorie sweetened beverages are a viable alternative to water.
Aim for 7 or more hours of sleep per night, and for better sleep quality, make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool.
Regular exercise is an important part of managing diabetes. Plus, it can help you manage your cravings for sugary sweets.
Research has even found that exercising, like going for a brisk walk, has been shown to reduce cravings for sweets such as chocolate.
If you eat sweets regularly, you’ll crave more sweets. If you stop eating sweets regularly, research has found that you will stop craving sweets.
Limit your stock of sweet treats at home. If you share a home with others, keep the sweets very high in a cupboard so they’re difficult to access and out of sight, and keep fruit and other lower-sugar snack options visible.
I tell my patients to put their treats in a Ziploc bag and then inside a clear food storage container in the pantry. It takes more effort to get into the packaging, and this helps cut down on taking one every time you’re in there.
Before reaching for something to eat, stop and take a moment to notice your thoughts and feelings. Are you feeling bored? Anxious? Stressed? Sad? Are you actually hungry? Sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger as well, so try drinking a glass of water or other low sugar beverage first to see if that helps.
If you’re not hungry, find something else to occupy your time instead, like exercise or engage in a hobby.
Cutting back your intake of sugary foods can be a difficult habit to break. In order to maintain your blood sugar levels, though, it’s essential to be mindful of what you eat. Planning out your meals, drinking water, and getting adequate sleep and exercise can help. But don’t be hard on yourself if you have a decadent dessert sometimes. As long as your overall diet includes balanced meals, you’re on the right track.
Medically reviewed on February 03, 2023
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