22 Sure-Fire Tips to Beat Sugar Cravings to a Pulp

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You’ll find more practical advice like this in The Modern No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo. Navigate being paleo in a non-paleo world with success. Pick up a copy today!’

Well, shoot.

You’ve got a problem. One that threatens to derail all your efforts, your good intentions and your progress. You’re on intimate terms – you know each other well, it knows your name and calls you whenever it feels like it. Sugar. Your nemesis. The enemy. Brazen in plain sight or lurking in the shadows, it watches your every move. And you know it.

Sugar in all its guises

I often get emails asking for advice on beating the sugar demon and believe me, I’ve struggled with it myself. While I consider myself to still be a sugar addict, and perhaps always will, I have been able to dial in my desire for sugar so that it rarely speaks to me loudly any longer. I also have many strategies to limit the likelihood that I am tempted to get back on the sugar-crazy wheel of life which causes me to eat sugar irrationally and to excess.

Bring it. Own it. Crush it.

Beating sugar cravings can be boiled down to this: commitment. You need to really want this. You need commitment to build:

  • self-awareness in your eating habits and triggers;
  • strategies for avoiding temptation
  • the confidence to say ‘no’ and in your ability to say ‘no.’

If you do this, sugar will go find another victim. The following is my own personal list of the things I have done to get to this point.

1. Track your progress. I track the number of days I go without sugar. I have a spreadsheet I update weekly. My goal is always to go one day longer between each sugar trip than previously and when I do indulge I start over. My goal is then to stay sugar-free for just one day. I give myself permission to eat sugar again at that point should I want to. Next I abstain for two days and so on. For some people, this gentle process may not be helpful or too slow and they can find they never get off the hamster wheel but I find it helps me and rarely do eat the sugar I give myself permission to. I also keep note of my previous record (73 days) so my current goal is 74.

2. Bake before 11am. Sometimes 5am. At this time of day, I am not tempted to eat the batter or sample the results of my efforts. I avoid baking in the afternoon like the plague. I am a sucker for cake batter and will scoop it all up. That will then drive me to taste many of my treats which in turn means I bake more and, ugh, it all starts again. So before 11am it is or not at all.

3. Don’t deal in sugary food. As a mom, I am often asked to organize, contribute to, or hand out food at kiddie events. I’ve learned this is a very, very bad idea. It just stimulates an interest in food I know shouldn’t eat, I start salivating (and secreting insulin) and when the time comes for me to go at it, I go mad, piling forbidden food high on my plate and then eating it. Nowadays, I hold back when these events are being planned, I offer to take water and I don’t get involved in handing food like birthday cake around.

4. Make any sugar in your house difficult to get to. I’ve written about this paleo tip before. It is key. If you can’t throw it away, put it in a low-trafficked place in your house. I’d keep the sugar foods in my bedroom drawer, on the highest shelf in the pantry – one I’d have to climb on a step to get to, or in the freezer in the garage.

5. Hide it from view. For me, a large part of the problem is seeing it. When my family hadn’t joined in and we still had non-paleo foods around, I’d push their food to the back of the pantry and put my food front and center. Their foods went on the high and low shelves of the fridge and freezer while my foods went on the shelves at eye-level. Mentally I’d know the bad stuff was there but not being able to see it helps break the connection between brain stimulation and insulin secretion as explained by Gary Taubes in Good Calories, Bad Calories.

6. Throw the sugar out. I have another blog, Clutter365, where I’ve committed to throwing one item of house clutter away every day for a year. Recently, I decided to do this for non-paleo food items, too. I love sugar and money and loathe waste so throwing this food away has at times been very hard for me. Doing it one day at a time has made it manageable. All the sugar has now gone and I feel more in control than ever. And crucially, if I want some more I’m going to have to drive somewhere to get it.

7. Know your limit. A tiny nibble? A bite? A small slice? It is so important that you are self-aware enough to know at what point you cave into the sugar demons. I can take a teeny-tiny nibble of a cookie and my resolve will stay intact, any more and I’m a gonna to be found later semi-comatose with candy wrappers strewn around me. Know your limit and stop before you get to that point. And if that means no sugar at all must pass your lips, then so be it.

8. Eat good fats. They will fill you up and you’ll resist sugary, bad fat food more easily. It took me a long time to realize that eating a huge bar of chocolate was my body’s way of telling me I needed fat. Nowadays an avocado or shaved coconut does the trick.

9. Eat protein. Paul Jaminet thinks that sugar cravings are the body’s way of telling you you need to eat more meat. It is certainly nutritionally dense and will keep your energy levels up, again helping you resist the sugar. Try it.

10. Monitor your caffeine intake. Caffeine makes me impulsive around food. I eat things I shouldn’t and start the crazy blood-sugar tsunami. I avoid it totally.

11. Swap the worst kind of treat food for healthier alternatives. When I started eating paleo I swapped cupcakes for chocolate-covered almonds. When I found myself obsessing over nuts and overeating them, I swapped them for yogurt. Then I learned that I couldn’t control yogurt either when I found myself eating three full-fat Brown Cow cartons back-to-back so I cut those out too. By then I had toned down my taste-buds and built up my confidence levels so I could cut sugar out completely. I now don’t eat anything sweet except on very rare, usually planned occasions.

12. Use progesterone cream. The jury is out on this one but I am trying it as I tend towards low progesterone in the second half of my cycle: that is when half of the 40-50% of women who get sugar and chocolate cravings get them. While I don’t suffer classic PMS symptoms – I tend to be fairly even mood-wise – I do get days late in my cycle where I can’t. stop. eating. I’m checking out whether raising my progesterone via the cream will help.

13. Visualization. When I got the urge to eat sugar, I imagined it was the yeast bacteria talking to me. Yes, I know, weird. But it’s what I did. When I got sugar cravings I reminded myself it was the yeastie-beasties yelling for the sugar they thrive on and somehow that imagery worked. Hey, it’s cool. :-)

14. Get some exercise. I found this helped me – it distracted me, made me feel better. A strenuous workout wasn’t helpful, that just made me wilt in the face of the cravings and I was more likely to give in to them than get up a sweat but a gentle 7-minute walk around my block in the sunshine worked wonders.

15. Take a nap. My ‘go to’ sweet alternative. You know the HALT acronym, Weight-Watchers counsel their members on? (If you are feeling like something to eat check to see if what you are really feeling is hunger, or instead, anger, loneliness or tiredness.) I nearly always feel tired when I want something sweet so I do my darnedest to get 15 minutes or more.

16. Know your sugar traps. So many things set me off – the chocolate and cookie aisle at Trader Joes, ‘just a look’ at the dessert menu, food ads on TV. I have identified them all and have strategies to avoid them. I rarely shop at Trader Joes these days, I refuse to even look at the dessert menu, I record all my shows and fast-forward through the ads. It is a constant process, there are new baits set all the time but it is worth it and the feeling of control is magnificent!

17. Take different routes to avoid your nemesis. Don’t go down the candy aisle in the store. Walk around the office to avoid the candy bowl. Go the long way round to avoid the dessert buffet. Walk on the other side of the mall from the cookie store. Constantly be looking out for sugar dangers and give them a wide berth.

18. Speak up! Ask others for their support. Request that ice cream not be brought home. Ask your co-worker to put her candy bowl in the drawer. Tell your kids you want paleo breakfast treats for Mother’s Day instead of cinnamon buns and offer up a menu, maybe even give them a paleo recipe.

19. Be the change you want to see. Bring fruit to balance out or replace the morning doughnuts. Take a paleo dessert to a family potluck. Invite your friend over for breakfast and cook her bacon and eggs (she will love you forever!) You’d be surprised how many people are secretly wishing that someone would offer them healthier options and thank you.

20. Drink water. Dehydration can make you feel crappy which can drive the urge for a quick pick-me-up so chug first to make sure you’re not getting the wrong message.

21. Start a blog or a Facebook page to publicly hold yourself accountable. Public accountability is a huge motivator. I write my blog to share my journey, to build relationships, to ‘help people.’ But I’m pretty sure the person most helped is me! When the sugar is calling, I think of my blog readers and it stops me. When I’m writing a post like this I’m reinforcing all my strategies to myself. And then I think up new ideas! And so the virtuous circle goes on and on. Don’t be frightened of starting a blog. It’s easy! Contact me at alison at alisongolden dot com and I’ll point you in the easiest direction.

22. What’s your #1 tip for beating the sugar devil? How do you stop him calling your name. I want to know. Please share and tell us in the comments!

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Written by

Alison Golden writes on the topic of paleo over at Paleo/NonPaleo. She aims to share ideas, inspire and motivate readers by teaching them how to live paleo in a non-paleo world. She is also the author of the bestselling book, The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo, a unique tool that gives the reader hundreds of strategies to navigate the learning process to successful paleo living.

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie April 24, 2012 at 7:46 am

Funny you write about progesterone cream- I am looking into that myself for severe PCOS. I pretty much desperate to feel better in all ways and from what have read so far, this might help. Thanks for your post..sugar is a real issue for so many, including myself.

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Julie April 24, 2012 at 7:48 am

I love your idea about a blog as well for accountability. I have struggled since I quit writing in mine. Maybe it is time to resurrect!

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Alison Golden April 24, 2012 at 7:56 am

Julie, do it! Hold yourself to a publishing schedule – whatever works for you, commit to it out loud and press ‘go.’ The more you invest in this, the more you focus, the less you procrastinate, the more success you’ll achieve. Truly. Take care, Alison :-)
Alison Golden recently posted..22 Sure-Fire Tips to Beat Sugar Cravings to a PulpMy Profile

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Julie April 30, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Thanks for the inspiration to commit out loud and go for it! sticking to a daily publishing schedule too per your suggestion :) You Rock!
Julie recently posted..No Excuses!My Profile

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Alison Golden April 30, 2012 at 4:58 pm

You are welcome Julie, I left a comment on your blog. :-)
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Dot Maley April 24, 2012 at 8:00 am

My go to when I want sweets are dates. To me it’s like a piece of candy and a few of them satisfy my sweet tooth. Not sure if they are on your diet though.

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Alison Golden April 24, 2012 at 8:49 am

They are, Dot, but you have to be very careful with them. I used to eat dates but they became my ‘go-to’ candy and I had to stop buying them. I am a terror for sweets! Nice to see you here. :-)
Alison Golden recently posted..22 Sure-Fire Tips to Beat Sugar Cravings to a PulpMy Profile

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Monique DiCarlo April 24, 2012 at 9:03 am

Thanks for all these tips, while reading this I realized I must not be very sugar addicted…you write: “keep the sugar foods in my bedroom drawer”, but then I wonder what kind of sugar foods are these and why are they in your house in the first place? I have discovered that eating protein does help me with less snacking. When I do feel like eating something sweet, I take a piece of fruit, high quality (low sugar) chocolate, dried berries, or dates…

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Alison Golden April 24, 2012 at 9:41 am

Sugar used to come into our house all the time, rarely because I bought it. Gifts, holidays, birthdays, food for visitors – all this would make our sugar pile grow. And I had a hoarding issue with it. I’ve learned to throw it away but as I say in the post, it hasn’t been easy.
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Linda Esposito April 24, 2012 at 12:20 pm

What’s my #1 tip for beating sugar?

Ooh, that’s akin to asking the crack dealer tips to stay clean.

I’ve had small bouts of success dealing with my sugar addiction, but not many. I’m also naturally thin, so weight hasn’t always been a motivating factor. I think it’s the visualization–my waistline is trimmer and the pants aren’t too tight when I cut back. Also, exercise. It’s so physically grueling that I don’t want to defeat my purpose.

I’m curious–when you say throw away the sugar, do you mean randomly choosing sugary items?

P.S. Love the classy site design :).

Thanks for the tips, Alison–they should get me through one more day :).
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Alison Golden April 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Hey Linda!

I mean anything sweet that’s non-paleo (and it nearly all is.) This week I’ve thrown away jellies, marshmallows, 4 mini-Snickers (that was hard!) half a pie, you get the idea. I don’t have a weight issue either but I feel so much better and as I go through each iteration, getting more and more paleo as I go along, I feel better and better. I didn’t even realize how bad I felt until I felt better if that makes sense. That keeps me going – being able to do more of the things I love because I have more energy, less pain, etc. Throwing away the sugar also makes me feel in control of it whereas before, well, that wasn’t the case at all. I was in thrall to sugar. Always vigilant though, always vigilant. And thanks. :-)
Alison Golden recently posted..22 Sure-Fire Tips to Beat Sugar Cravings to a PulpMy Profile

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Rascal June 4, 2012 at 9:56 am

Plz let me know what time you will be throwing those things out so I don’t have to wait all day near your dumpster. Thank you. :P

4 mini Snickers!? Oh my!

HALT’s a good idea.

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sarah April 24, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I’m working my way through Diane SanFillippo’s 21-Day Sugar detox right now so this was very timely! I actually have my husband hide candy/sweets I don’t want to eat. Right now the kids are depleting their Easter candy (they got a few treats!) so he doles them out after healthy meals but otherwise hides them. I know right now my willpower is so limited that I need the accountability! Thankfully he is supportive and non-judgmental about it.

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Alison Golden April 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Thank you, Sarah! I totally do that too. My kids got some candy for their birthday (same day as Easter) and I told them to hide it from me. How is the detox going?
Alison Golden recently posted..22 Sure-Fire Tips to Beat Sugar Cravings to a PulpMy Profile

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Dawn April 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm

When you mentioned the blog it made me wonder how you can get yourself to sit down and write consistently.

I’m also curious about how the cream works for you since I recently went on a sugar detox and had to give in during PMS week to some primal treats that I had previously kept from my diet (I function best when I have a maximum of 2 servings of fruit a day but when I PMS or have bad cravings I tend to grab a primal cookie my mom makes me or some other similar thing. I usually say that as long as I can do the bare minimum of the diet-primal vs my diet that I’m fine tuning to my body-then I’ll be happy). Thanks for the tips, though! I’ll have to impliment them on some sort of accomplishment board thingie!

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Alison Golden April 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Hi Dawn:
The consistent blogging came gradually. I’ve journaled in a book for years, then I moved onto a private Blogger blog that only I could read. I just vented there. After using a blog to promote a rummage sale my kids school were doing and getting a good reaction, I decided to blog properly. I just blogged every other day. I experimented with a schedule I could manage. Made no commitments to anyone just blogged when I felt like it. I got a blogging buddy and we made a commitment to blog every day for 30 days – that was a LOT of work and slowly I resolved a once a week publishing of a quality post was something I could manage.

My kids are in school and pretty independent when they are not in school so I tend to blog at anytime I am at home but serious writing has to take place when they are at school. I have friends who blog around their young children but I couldn’t do that. I would need to blog when they were having their nap or at night if my kids were younger. Like anything, it is a commitment but you can make up your own rules.

I haven’t used the cream for long enough to know if it works yet but I’m curious. I tend to eat sweet potatoes and parsnips if I have those cravings. They seem to satisfy the urge. :-)
Alison Golden recently posted..22 Sure-Fire Tips to Beat Sugar Cravings to a PulpMy Profile

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Paula April 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm

# 1 Tip For Beating Sugar Devil: Never, ever be genuinely hungry too often or for prolonged periods of the day. White-knuckling it between meals and snacks puts you in jeopardy! That’s what’s great about primal/paleo – you do remove genuine hunger from the equation.

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Alison Golden April 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm

You’re right, Paula. And your comment reminded me of something my kids taught me. They have drastically cut down on their snacking now they are fully paleo. They don’t come home starving hungry from school and often go right through to dinner at 6pm. They have leftovers from dinner the night before. And they’ve lost weight as a result. Thanks for commenting!

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Annette April 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Fruit usually does the trick for me, strawberries or pineapple are the best. However, I also love a banana, coconut milk, and cocoa protein smoothie after a workout. Really ripe bananas help sweeten the cocoa enough that it isn’t bitter. But what I’m really curious about is your experiment with #12 on your list. I too find that I can eat everything in the house for a day or two late in my cycle. No sugar cravings but a crazy appetite.

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Alison Golden April 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Hi Annette, you can grab progesterone cream from Wholefoods or buy it online. It’s a very simple process. I’m sure that it takes a few months if it works at all and maybe everything gets unclear if we are still eating things that don’t agree with us. I don’t get why we want to eat everything in sight but it seems that all the women I speak to say the same thing.
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Chriss April 28, 2012 at 5:42 am

Hi Alison, great tips! I am a big fan of the sugar streak too. I also broke my terrible habit with Splenda as well. I’ve been Paleo since December and still doing a lot of detective work to find my recipe for success. I knew I was on the right track by ditching grains and dairy because my skin rashes and bloat went away. I became more fit but my clothing actually got tighter because I was still eating too much for me. So I started tracking and my clothing is loosening up. I really believe Paleo is right for me but I got on the “eat all you want bacon and coconut oil bandwagon” and my body just could not handle it, and hung on to that fat. It’s going the other way now, thanks to you and Dean. Will keep you posted! Thanks for your posts;)

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Alison Golden April 30, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I did that – bacon was my candy and I only lost a couple of pounds for the first year! Totally related. So glad you’ve turned it around. Great job. :-)
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Michelle April 30, 2012 at 3:53 am

Hi There! Tomorrow will mark my first month of living sugar free! I have found it incredibly tough, but it seems to get easier with each day.

I have found a couple of things have helped me so far:

- To ditch ALL forms of sugar. I was allowing myself fruit in the beginning, but found it had the same effects on me as eating a chocolate bar did. Things have been a lot easier since making this decision.
- To exercise!!! The days I exercise, the need for sugar is so much less.
- To Eat more coconut oil. On days where I remember to use coconut oil in my cooking, I find I don’t think about sugar at all.

The thing I am struggling with, however, is finding a paleo ‘treat’ that includes no form of sugar at all. I am thinking I might just try and omit the sugar in a paleo cookie recipe and see how it goes. At 3pm when I have my cup of tea I really feel like a biscuit – not for the sweetness, but because it’s nice to have something small with a cup of tea and a sit down.

Good luck trying to ditch the sugar!
Michelle
Bok Bok B’Gerk
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Alison Golden April 30, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Congratulations, Michelle! I agree, fruit can keep me on the sugar bandwagon too so keep off it. And dried fruit, oof, that’s just candy in another guise. That tea ritual sounds awfully British. :-) I have given up tea partly because I miss having something sweet with it. I used to look forward to cupcakes with an afternoon cuppa every day. Sometimes it was the only thing that kept me going when the kids were little. Thanks for commenting!
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Michele June 3, 2013 at 9:52 am

I have found that with my afternoon tea, some sliced cucumbers with a dash of salt on them is a really nice substitute for a cracker or cookie. (Cookies are my worst addiction.)

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Madonna May 2, 2012 at 4:23 am

I find these two much easier than distractions. Either use EFT for cravings or take liquid chromium or both if the cravings are bad.
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Christie July 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Hello, my name is Christie and i’m a sugar addict.

This is so on the money for me! I have cut almost all forms of processed sugar out of my “normal” diet. However, I still have binges (followed by purges – a whole other story) where I can easily down 30-40 mini candy bars. I don’t know if there is a safe level of sugar for me. Fresh fruit seems to be ok… if I’m not exposed to too much of it at once (e.g. one apple is fine, but present me with a fruit platter and things get out of hand). Dried fruit is definitely a gateway drug for me – it very often triggers binges.

My main coping mechanism when presented with sugar is to try to distract myself with a cup of tea. It’s widely available, guilt-free, and takes a while to drink (keeping me busy for long enough for the craving to pass, hopefully). Of course, some days I will find myself drinking 5-6 cups of tea for this very reason, which is probably bad because of the caffeine. But sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do!

Recently I have been experimenting with making a trail mix that includes nuts (soaked and dried), dried seaweed, a few sultanas and lots of coconut flakes. The protein and fat in the nuts and coconut seems to help balance the sugar from the sultanas, allowing me a sweet hit without triggering binges. We’ll see how this goes over time. If I start overconsuming I may have to give up dried fruit altogether.

One of my biggest problems with eating this way is that sugar avoidance is seen as totally anti-social. I don’t have any paleo real-life friends, so whenever I’m invited to a social situation it is invariably built around sugary foods. Birthday parties, “coffee and cake” catchups… even my weekly toddler playgroup wouldn’t be complete without cake and/or chocolate biscuits. Inviting me to a pancake party is like inviting an alcoholic to a frat party. So I’m faced with a choice – cheat (which generally leads to bingeing/purging), attend but don’t eat (takes lots of willpower, and makes everyone else feel uncomfortable), or decline and become a paleo hermit. Does anyone have any survival strategies for this situation?

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Alison Golden July 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Hi Christie:

Yup. I can relate to much of what you write here. There is no safe level of sugar for me – even that hidden in bacon and sausages can set me off. If you’re eating that quantity of mini-candies, you likely have an insulin regulation problem.

I think you’ve hit on something I have noticed as a Brit who has lived in Australia but now the US – the discomfort of others with not eating cake or biscuits at social events. I think this is peculiar to the UK and Australia – it is *so* ingrained in our cultures. And it can make the most resolute of us wobble.

My best suggestion is to practice saying no. Rehearse it beforehand, play it over in your mind, imagine different scenarios. Strengthen your ‘no’ muscle and over time you will transition yourself and those around you to expect a negative response. You might even be doing everyone a favor! You can also simply not attend if you feel you will just cave in. If you do indulge, see it as a learning experience and develop strategies to help you avoid your triggers next time. I have gone from believing that not eating at least two slices of birthday cake plus finishing off those of my kids at a party as a wasted opportunity to being able to look at them and not be bothered at all so it can be done!

I also like how you’re experimenting with different solutions. You might want to check out my articles on paleo fails for advice.
http://paleononpaleo.com/paleo-diet-failure-junk-food/
http://paleononpaleo.com/paleo-fail-4-mistakes/

Lastly, you might want to get some support around analyzing and changing your eating behavior. You might need some additional input to help you. Good luck!
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Gabe August 16, 2012 at 9:12 am

Hi Alison, great article I think I am at the point where I do need to track my days sugar free, having trouble de-toxing so to speak. I’m curious about the spreadsheet you or anyone else use to track your days sugar free. What is it titled? What are your rows and columns called? I have ideas but I want to keep it simple and am wondering what you have found that works for you?

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Alison Golden August 25, 2012 at 6:38 am

Hi Gabe:

I’m a bit of a spreadsheet freak but in this case I haven’t got one. I have a notebook with squares and I number them 1-30 across the top of the page. I literally color one square in every day I don’t eat sugar. I start a new line (and column 1) each time I start over and write the starting date each time I do so. I should probably make up a spreadsheet but I find the act of coloring in the square to be more childish, um, rewarding. I hope that’s clear.
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NJ Paleo September 24, 2012 at 11:25 am

This is a good post! As we all know, it’s tough to beat cravings. I’ve found that for desserts/candy/etc., I am usually successful in telling myself, “That isn’t food”. For some reason, that works well for me. But I have a harder time with dried fruits and nuts because those ARE food. Often I find that if I have a couple of squares of super-dark chocolate (over 70% cacao), that will quell the craving. A little goes a long way.

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ChilePowered October 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm

I use only birchwood (never corn) sourced xylitol in place of sugar in the rare occasions I need it. It’s a one-to-one measurement and it’s expensive, so I rarely use it. :^) From what I’ve read it promotes tooth healthy and does not spike insulin levels. Not sure if it’s Paleo.

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Holly January 1, 2013 at 8:11 am

Hi everyone I’m addicted to sugar and coming to realize it. I crave it all the time, I eat sweets morning, afternoon, night, not like I sit on the couch and eat a bowl of ice-cream, cookies, chocolate. We seldom have sweets in the house but soda is sweet to me, when I have pretzels I want a coke, when I have a few bites of Mac and cheese I want a coke. I always crave sweets. If I don’t have anything sweet and then have something hardly sweet, I want more. My new year resolution is to stop rewarding myself with sweets, stop buying it, making it unless its birthday/holiday!, I have 5-kids! My blood sugar was tested after fasting and it was fine. I think once I start getting tense from a situation with the kids I start craving chocolate, I had my gallbladder out 9/2011 so trying to cut out fat, but stuck on sweets!, as the new year is here I want to limit my intake of sweets and be healthier. I like the kick I get from coke but I know I shouldn’t have it and yes I’m overweight, about 100 pounds but I hide it good. I love the idea of healthy snacks for that time when you are hungry and need something now and when your child is having a meltdown and need that sweetness then and their! I hate breakfast stuff and cut out milk, yogurt for health reasons. Any tips or ideas?

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Lisa January 24, 2013 at 10:58 am

Thanks for the great tips! I, too, am a sugar addict. Accepting the fact that I need to abstain from it entirely, rather than just have a bite or two, has helped me. The distinction that Gretchen Rubin makes on her Happiness Project blog really opened my eyes to the moderator vs. abstainer idea. I just can’t moderate my intake when it comes to sugar.

In the past, I’ve had the habit of eating sweets after my kids are asleep (often raiding their holiday candy stashes to feed my addiction.) The best/strangest method I’ve found for breaking that habit is gymnema. It’s an herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, and it’s called the “sugar destroyer.” If you break open a capsule of it and put it on your tongue, it completely obliterates the taste of sugar. For example, chocolate chips taste like salty fat, not delectable morsels. (The effect only lasts a few hours, so it doesn’t completely destroy your taste buds.) The first time I tried it, I ate a bite of every sugary thing I could find, and I spit each one out because the flavors were so disgusting. After a few nights of gymnema after the kids went to bed, my habit was gone. That was my n=1 experiment. :)

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Martin February 3, 2013 at 6:06 am

I found http://www.joesgoals.com/ a very easy to use tool to support your point #1
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Fianna February 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm

I am on the GAPS diet, and that is what finally put an end to my sugar rollercoaster. I think it was the probiotic, along with all the good fats and protein. If I crave sweet stuff, I am more than happy with an orange now, instead of a half gallon of ice cream!

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Susan February 12, 2013 at 6:18 am

I am so glad I found this blog via MDA. Love your ideas. I started tracking my progress yesterday.
Thanks so much for sharing your ideas and talent.

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Emily Smith March 12, 2013 at 9:44 am

Dear Alison,
I freeze bananas on sticks and eat these when I am in need of that sugar fix. Or, I keep banana slices frozen, and put these in the blender to make what tastes like banana ice cream. It really does the trick for me in the evening, to replace traditional night-time sugary snacking.
Emily

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Christina April 24, 2013 at 11:25 am

Nice, thank you for the advice. I love the imagery in #13!! I am a fan of using imagery to make movement/posture feel better, and I totally relate to imagining the little yeasts begging for sugar, with devil horns on their heads.

For me, getting enough sleep, a nap or exercise, staying hydrated, and eating enough fat seem to work the best. My biggest offender is alcohol, and I find that if I plan that indulgence in the most satisfying way possible, I don’t feel deprived and can keep it under control. Thanks again, love the blog!

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Sandy May 29, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I work in a bakery right now. Breads I can resist, no problem there, its the sweets that are hard at times. I’ve been planning ahead and bringing paleo snacks, which is really helping. This post is encouraging! I will continue to work at it. :)

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SkagitBon June 1, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Oh my goodness, this is PERFECT. Someone who KNOWS the struggles I face? Where have you been- or why didn’t I find you before? Baking in the morning- so simple, but so IMPORTANT! I am pretty much addicted to every bad food available, so it is all a conscious effort to manage: coffee/caffeine, chocolate, chips, enchilladas! Seems like my resolve is better first thing, but as the day wears on, I get tired and lazy with my goals. I will pass this info on to friends! Checking out your clutter site, too. Food “diets”, budget “diets”, clutter “diets”… managing our lives… they all connect! Good job to YOU for GETTING that!

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Cadet July 1, 2013 at 6:02 pm

I’m not on the paleo diet but I definitely have trouble with sweets. They’re constantly cluttering the house. I’m trying…. Not succeeding. I hope that soon I can be done because I’m sick of it.

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Vanessa July 25, 2013 at 12:06 am

Salt!
I ate almost no processed or natural sugar for about two months, which was very effective in “resetting” my taste buds and cravings to be accustomed to much less sugar. What got me through those particularly difficult first two weeks of cravings? Lots of water dressed up all fancy (with limes, cucumbers, or even a few frozen cranberries), and putting natural sea salt on the foods I was eating (like raw nuts). It helped a lot.

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Alison Golden July 31, 2013 at 5:33 pm

I like that idea of putting sea salt on raw nuts. I can see how that would help with the sugar cravings.
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Fiona October 13, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Thanks for your tips, they are very helpful.

Some things I do to stop the cravings is clean my teeth after dinner…. then I don’t feel like a sweet treat… its kind of like an off switch for craving anymore food.

A hot cup of herbal tea also seems to dull cravings and there is something very satisfying for me to sip on a hot tea, its calming and seems to alleviate sweet cravings.

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Susan October 20, 2013 at 3:27 am

Hi Alison
I was wondering how the progesterone cream went. I have been using it for about 4 months with no difference, are you still using it?

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Alison Golden October 20, 2013 at 7:43 am

Meh. No difference. I do use it sometimes if I have some unexplained anxiety. Calms me down. :-)
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Janet October 22, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Thanks for all these tips. I so need to get off sugar. I have also thought of a chart, but I think my record is 2 days! I love the idea of trying to beat your best. I also think “that’s just the yeast talking” but don’t have a strong enough back talk.

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Alison Golden October 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm

You’re welcome, Janet. I constantly challenge myself to keep everything fresh.
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Clair November 8, 2013 at 7:16 pm

It has been over 700 days since I’ve had processed sugar sweets. I’m an all or nothing type. I sometimes dream about eating sugar only to feel guilty in the dream. My trick is just saying no. Never. Ever. I makes me sad to think I’ll never have sugar again but that’s how I have to do it. I imagining is feels similar to quitting smoking.

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Alison Golden November 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Wow, Clair. 700 days is a long time. Good for you for having such fortitude.
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lin November 30, 2013 at 12:04 pm

I use the visualization technique (those evil bacteria in my stomach demanding sugar) and also chains.cc to keep track. It’s simple, and I make it the first thing I look at in the morning so that I see the no-sugar streak that’s at stake.

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Alison Golden November 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Chains.cc is a GREAT tip, Lin. Thanks for sharing!
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Melissa December 10, 2013 at 9:18 am

I have tried all those things and more, for five years now and still cannot beat it for good, I am getting desperate..thinking of trying OA. Also, progesterone cream made my cravings worse the 2nd half of the month!

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Alison Golden December 10, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Hi Melissa:

It does sound like you might need some kind of emotional support. To eat sugary foods is hard-wired into us – because in the days when we only had access to a few fruits for a couple of months a year, it was important to eat as much as could while they were available. Now, of course, that isn’t the case and we can eat as much as we want whenever we want. Many of us, myself included, find that just a few bites is all it takes to slide down the slippery slope back to eating sugar so beating it “for good” may not even be possible because of that hardwiring. The goal may be to train yourself to manage your cravings through abstinence and if they are unbearable, or a treat sends you into days long sugar binges, to look at physical causes for them such as hormone imbalances and possibly thyroid issues.
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Girish December 14, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Hi Alison

when I get sugar craving, I drink CocaCola zero. It claims to contain no sugar and that stuff really beats my sugar craving. But is it really a healthy alternative?

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Alison Golden December 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Ack, no.
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Debbie December 26, 2013 at 4:29 pm

WOW! Thanks for your great article!

My dad used to love to joke about how, when I turned six months old, he started taking me to grandmas house every Sunday morning for pancakes with syrup. Bless his heart, he had no idea the monster he was creating!

When I was five my mom made cookies for the whole week for all six of her children and wrapped them in individual servings so she could just grab them and throw them into our lunch bags. When no one was looking I would sneak into the cupboard and quickly scarf down everyone’s cookies. I have to laugh at myself when I picture this little five year old climbing up on the cabinets and scarfing down stolen cookies.

I have had extreme sugar cravings all my life. I have eaten so much sugar so often that there have been times I wake up in the morning and can’t touch my skin cuz it hurts.

I have completely given up on the idea that I will ever beat this; it puts too much pressure on me to give it up completely and I would feel so deprived…however, I have thru nutrition and supplements gotten to the point that my carvings are not anywhere near as severe and I eat way less sugar. Hurray!

Omega 3, methylcobalamin b12 (this form is the most bio available. 100 mg chewable, The Vitamin Shoppe brand and I take 4 per day), a multi vitamin, 90% of the time I DO NOT eat processed foods or gluten. I’m studying Paleo now, that’s how I found you.

Nothing will ever be perfect, I don’t think I will ever exercise, haha, but I have come so far :-).

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Pam January 20, 2014 at 7:40 am

I am so happy I found this post. I have only 7 days left of my whole 30 and I still can’t seem to kick my sugar cravings. At a child’s birthday party yesterday, I was face to face with pizza and a chocolate mousse cake, I did NOT give in, but am still thinking about it. The smell of bagels is lofting into my office right now. I think about sweets 24/7. I wonder if this will ever stop. Maybe I allow myself too much fruit. Still, I am proud of myself to make it this far with no added sweeteners (not even honey), no bread of any kind and no paleo-ified junk foods. My husband is a vegetarian and even though he is not paleo, he has been improving his diet (no more beer and much less corn/gluten). Our son is almost 3 and we are putting plenty of whole foods in front of him on a daily basis. He eats his meat and veggies (but we let him do the pizza/cupcake thing on bday party days). It’s tough and it’s mentally challenging (even though the food is delicious) and I really hate reading about people who think it’s easy (sorry if I offend anyone). I’m doing this for medical reasons and am trying to GAIN weight and it’s still hard. I am very thankful for having found you and for all these comments!

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Alison Golden January 22, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Hi Pam:

It is not easy, not for me anyway. I have found that the only way to kick the sugar is to give it all up completely. Recently I had a sore throat and I took some raw honey to manage it, slid right back down the pole again. I don’t eat fruit and I track my sugar intake (the lack of it) in habits.cc. It’s something I have to work on, even now, but I am confident that eventually I will have it licked. Cupcakes used to be my crack but now they are powerless over me so there is hope.
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Denise January 20, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Cinnamon tea is a really great way to deal with sweet cravings. What I’m finding is that now I’ve stopped the sugar I’m really having nut cravings. I’ve stopped buying them now as I’m completely obsessed with them. I never even liked pistachiou nuts before and now I do.

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Alison Golden January 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm

That’s a good idea, Denise, cinnamon tea. For those who like it that’s a great trick. Bring down blood sugar too.

I know what you mean about the nuts. I have experienced that too. I wonder if it is the demand for fat to provide energy that would otherwise have been provided by sugar that is causing that craving? Hmmm….
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K W February 19, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Am working on beating sugar cravings – first of all trying to stick to low glycemic (ie if I NEED a fruit I’ll take only an apple or orange and only after nuts to lower its effect on my bloodstream – and ESPECIALLY have found that nuts anytime I have a sugar craving (alternating my mood between peanuts when I need something heavier and pistachios when I need something a bit lighter) – even if I was craving a cookie or even a banana, just having nuts (sometimes a combo of the above) I felt I didnt even want it anymore!

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