Food for Thought
Jenie McCary, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and wellness manager for the Albuquerque Public School District. She focuses on childhood obesity prevention and employee wellness. She was New Mexico's 2009 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year.
Can you curb sugar cravings by increasing the percent of protein in your diet?
If you are eating a lot of simple carbohydrates—such as added sugars—and not balancing those foods with protein and fat, then you may find yourself reaching for sugary foods throughout the day. On their own, sugar-rich foods leave you craving more because they are quickly digested and absorbed, making blood sugar levels drop. By eating regularly and adding protein and fat to meals and snacks, you’ll avoid spikes in blood sugar and likely feel more satisfied throughout the day.
There are many reasons we crave sugar: it’s innate, it tastes good, and carbohydrates release brain chemicals that help us relax and feel good. Also, the typical American diet is highly processed, making it easier to overconsume added sugars.
So what can you do to curb sugar cravings? Eat a lean protein source at every meal and snack, satisfy your sweet tooth, and fill up on fiber with a piece of fruit or several chocolate-covered almonds; after meals, chew gum or distract yourself by going for a walk. If sugar cravings are out of control, you may want to go several days without any simple sugars until cravings diminish. This may help you learn how to be satisfied with fewer sweets.