We all want something sweet from time to time, but sometimes our need for sugar can get out of control. Those intense food cravings can lead to blood sugar crashes, obesity, and a wide range of other issues. If you find yourself the victim of a serious sweet tooth, it may be time to kick the sugar habit for good.
It’s hard when you’re craving refined carbs to find a good substitute, but we are here today to tell you that it is possible and a lot easier than you’re probably expecting. Today, we want to take you through the top 21 foods perfect for replacing those sweet treats when craving sugar.
The list may surprise you as all of the foods on this list aren’t naturally sweet or even sweet substitutes. But one thing all of these foods have in common is their ability to replace processed sweet foods and still leave your sweet tooth satisfied in a natural and healthier way.
We are sure that by the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll be ready to hit the grocery store and replace all those unhealthy snacks.
Why Swap Out Sweet Treats?
If you’ve been feeling resistant to the idea of saying goodbye to sugary snacks and refined carbohydrates, we understand. There are a lot of qualities to sweets that we all love, but they are worth giving up (or at least eating in moderation). Too much sugar sticks to your gut and causes you to gain weight, even if you exercise and eat relatively healthily.
It can also become addictive, similar to drugs, so your brain will begin to form a dependency on the sugary foods due to the dopamine and serotonin kick you get from them. The more sugar you intake daily, weekly, and monthly, the more dependent your brain will begin to be on that amount of sugar. This will make it harder to eliminate sugar from your diet and replace it with healthy foods.
What Does Sugar Do to the Body?
The body can be affected in a number of negative ways by sugar. It can contribute to conditions like fatty liver disease or cause issues with other organs. A lot of sugar can lead to blood sugar spikes and weight gain, which are contributing factors to developing Type 2 Diabetes.
An excessive amount of sugar can also lead to skin issues like acne and problems with your teeth, like cavities and bad breath. High levels of sugar in your diet can also lead to heart disease and joint inflammation.
What We Gain When We Stop Sugar Cravings
What we gain from cutting out sweets can also be considered what we will lose from cutting out sugar. You can expect the bloat around your gut to decrease, as this is an area on the body that stores those unused sugars.
You can expect your skin to begin to clear up, especially around the mouth and chin, as this is where breakouts due to diet will happen most often. Your dentist will also see an improvement, as those residual sugars will be less likely to get stuck between teeth, making you less likely to have cavities during future check-ups.
Essentially, you can expect that sugar's adverse side effects will decrease and cease to be problems you deal with, slowly but surely. This fact is so essential for our health, but it’s even more critical when we factor in our children’s eating patterns.
Keeping kids from developing these habits and potential threats to their health is one of the most important things we can do as parents.
The foods listed below will make delicious substitutes for you and the kiddos whenever you’re craving something sweet.
Can Aromatherapy Help?
While eating the right foods instead of the wrong ones is the best way to live a healthier, sugar-free life, you might need a little help along the way.
Utilizing the power of aromatherapy to keep your sugar cravings at bay can be a huge step in the right direction. Aromatherapy is a way to trigger desired responses in your brain’s receptors through specific qualities in the scents and aromas of essential oils.
The best way to do this? Use our CravePatch. It is full of up to eight hours of essential oils that can help you keep your brain away from begging your body to eat sugar. They’re easy stickers that go on clothes, not on skin, and will release a small amount of aromatics at regular time intervals to keep you going throughout your day.
Plus, the smiling superhero faces on the CravePatch serve as friendly cheerleaders (making them the perfect kid-friendly solution to cravings, too!).
The 21 Best Foods To Eat When You’re Craving Sugar
Not all of the food items listed here are sweet, and none of them are full of added sugars. Some are naturally sweet, and others are packed with nutrients and minerals your body needs to stay balanced.
You may not realize it, but many times that sweet tooth comes from something lacking in your diet. When you eat too many foods that tip the scales one way or another, your body craves certain flavor profiles to balance out your palette.
Unlike salty and sugary snacks, these foods will keep your body balanced and your belly full.
1. Stone Fruit
Stone fruits are fruits that have pulp-textured meat that surrounds the hard stone in the center. These include peaches, plums, and nectarines. As a sub-in for sweet, processed foods, stone fruits are ideal.
They have a naturally sweet aroma and flavor that is hard to match, and the delicious flavor is hard to turn down, even for picky eaters. Stone fruits will replace processed sweet treats, satisfying even the sweetest teeth.
Berries are another category of whole foods that will provide you with enough sweet and tart goodness that you won’t even miss those confections that you’re used to. The acidity mixed with the natural sugars of this healthy snack will delight your taste buds and leave your palette satiated, so you won’t miss the sugary snacks you usually grab for.
Additionally, the natural antioxidants in the berries are a nutritionist’s dream. You and the kiddos will gain so many health benefits from all varieties of berries that you will be grateful you cut the sweets in favor of a superfood.
3. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is delicious and a little decadent, so you’ll be able to satisfy your sweet tooth with a healthier sweet treat. It’s full of antioxidants and has heart and other health benefits that you’ll gain with every delicious square.
One of the biggest points with dark chocolate: the higher the percentage of pure cacao, the better the treat is for your health. This means that the more cream and sugar added to chocolate, the less beneficial it is for you.
The best options can be bitter and potentially off-putting to many people who love the sweetness of milk chocolate, but it’s still a delicious, healthy alternative.
4. Snack or Protein Bars
We often crave sweets like donuts and cookies due to the amount of salt in our diets. The sugar in these rich foods can help balance out the number of salty snacks we have eaten and helps us feel more satisfied with our meals. The cravings for sugar can also come from a lack of sustenance in our diets, which generally needs to be filled with enough protein.
Without the proper balance in our diets, we don’t have enough satiety to make it to the next mealtime. When this happens, we want quick fixes and sweet treats that will satisfy cravings for quick energy. That means overeating, which can throw a wrench in your weight loss efforts.
While not all protein bars or snack bars are healthy alternatives to sugar snacks, many are full of enough protein and healthy fats to keep you full until your next meal and fill you up with nutrients and vitamins your body needs.
5. Chia Seeds
Chia seed pudding is not only delicious, but it is so nutritious. You will get ample omega-3 fatty acids and the right kind of full feeling your belly needs. Not only will you stay full and get rid of cravings, but you will do so in a way that is healthy and nutritious.
Kicking sugar cravings to the curb has never been sweeter.
6. Gum or Mints (Sugar-Free)
Many times, you might be feeling a little bored or need something to occupy a few minutes of your time when you begin to feel stressed or worried about a particular event. In these moments, many of us run to sweets as comfort foods.
But chewing a piece of sugar-free gum or eating a sugar-free mint can help give you the same relief from worry that a dessert could have without the unhealthy side effects. Sugar-free gums often utilize artificial sweeteners; they’ll be sweet tasting, but they don’t have the same calorie counts.
Almonds, cashews, and walnuts are just a few of the nuts out there that make a better snack than sweet treats. These high-protein, high-fiber foods won’t be sweet, but they will fill you up with protein and the healthy kind of fats that can keep you energized all day.
Anytime you begin to feel sluggish and ready to grab a snack full of sugar to give you a rush, grab a handful of almonds instead. You’ll feel full and content without worrying about the sugar crash later.
Legumes, like beans, peanuts, and peas, are full of fiber and healthy proteins to keep you energized and full. Many times we crave sugar and treats when we need a midday pick-me-up. Some days drag on more than others, or we are so busy in the morning that by the afternoon, we can’t imagine how we will get through the rest of the day.
It can be challenging, and our bodies often begin to crave a sugar rush to help get the energy flowing. But the crash that comes with this is hard to deal with. It only makes it harder for us to get through the rest of the day.
Legumes will fill you up and give you the energy that lasts all day without any crashes. They’re ideal for quenching any sugar cravings that pop up.
Yogurt is a healthy alternative to sweet treats like ice cream and cakes, as long as you eat the right kinds. There are plenty of options out there that are sweet, like dessert, and have close to the same amount of sugar added to them (some even have candy inside).
Luckily, natural yogurts have a sweetness to them but are healthier counterparts to unhealthy yogurts and desserts. You can still fulfill that sweet craving without adding all that sugar to your diet and that extra weight to your gut. Tasty options that are sweet but not health-sour include Greek yogurt or coconut-based variations.
Dates are one of the most popular options for natural sweetness to your food. You will notice that a lot of healthy sweets and snack bars utilize date puree to sweeten the foods.
If you’ve ever cooked with them, you know why. They’re aromatic, sweet, and so delicious. Your kitchen will smell amazing, and you will love all the great flavor they add.
11. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are not only nutritious, but they are naturally sweet and very filling. You can add a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon to a steamed sweet potato, and that sweet tooth won’t know what hit it.
The best part is sweet potatoes have enough natural sweetness that even kids will enjoy the flavors, and the soft texture is perfect for new eaters. Developing these practices young will help kids grow up making the right choices without having to consciously make an effort to be healthy. Sweet potatoes are an excellent food to satisfy a sugar craving and keep you healthy and naturally energized in the process.
12. Meats or Fish
A lot of our cravings for sugar come from our bellies being empty too quickly. Too much starch in your diet and not enough protein will cause you to feel hungry faster; your body will start to veer toward unhealthy choices, like desserts.
But eating an ample and adequate amount of protein, like fish or meat, will keep that from happening. You’ll stay full between mealtimes, and those sugar cravings will stay away.
We all love a creamy milkshake from time to time, but instead of grabbing something that’s full of empty calories and sugars, why not opt for a delicious and nutritious smoothie? You can add your favorite berries and even sneak a few veggies in for those picky eaters in the house.
It’s a clever way to get everyone to eat a full serving of fruit and veggies every day but dressed up in a way that makes it look like a dessert.
14. Natural or Sugar-Free Sodas
There are plenty of options on the market these days to find an all-natural or sugar-free soda or sparkling beverage. These are full of natural sugars and free of added sugars, so you’ll get a sweet kick without the unhealthy additives.
The omega-3s in avocados and the nutrients in a bowl of guacamole make it a perfect swap for sugar cravings. You will be able to snack and get salty and savory satisfaction, but leave out the unhealthy aspects of cakes and cookies.
Eggs are one of the quickest and easiest ways to get a shot of protein in between meals if you start to feel hungry. It may not have the same sweetness as a piece of candy, but it will keep your stomach full and your energy levels high, so you won’t have to worry about feeling sluggish after lunch.
17. Snack Mix
A quick handful of a nut and berry mix is not only delicious but full of proteins, minerals, and nutrients that your body needs for fuel. It’s an easy snack to take with you on the go.
Adding a few chunks of dark chocolate in the mix will keep it healthy but give your taste buds a little more of that kick of sugar it’s craving.
18. Pickled Snacks or Foods
Fermented or pickled foods and snacks make a great substitute for candy or sweet treats. They have a natural sweet-tart flavor that can satisfy a sugar craving without the unwanted calories and sugar intake.
You can still snack on something crunchy or tangy, but you won’t rot your teeth in the process. These are great snacks to get kids loving as they are easy ways to hydrate or refuel after workouts or long runs.
19. Whole Grains
Your body needs whole grains as part of a balanced diet. Swapping whole grains for sweets can keep you going throughout the day without a harmful crash when you least expect it.
The high fiber content helps keep you feeling full, which will curb sugar cravings, and you’ll get a daily dose of essential vitamins in the process.
You always need to eat your veggies, but replacing carrots where you used to eat cookies will help you immensely. We all like to snack from time to time, but picking up a handful of fresh veggies versus confections can keep your body healthy and thriving.
21. Protein or Fruit-Based Ice Creams
Sometimes you really need that cold, creamy treat called ice cream. When that craving hits, you need to find a way to enjoy ice cream but keep it healthy. Frozen bananas make a great base for ice cream. Then, you can add your favorite toppings to make it extra delicious but keep it healthy.
Bye, Bye Old Habits
It’s time to head to the grocery store — these foods will keep you happy and healthy and curb those sugar cravings for good. These healthier habits will be better for you and set your kids up for a lifetime of healthy choices and balanced diets.
Even if you’ve had a major sweet tooth in the past, there’s always time to make a change.