Don’t Sugar-coat It

How to decrease sugar cravings
Dr. Rita Patel, ND


The holiday season brings good food, great company and memorable moments. While we look forward to the socializing, good manners dictate that we need to taste everything in the dessert category, even if we tell ourselves otherwise. But what happens when one bite leads to another and another? Why do these sugar cravings happen? Can we make them stop?


Eating sugary foods can become an addictive behaviour, one that researchers have

found to be caused by neurochemical changes in the brain. While knowing this can help us to feel less guilty about taking a second serving of pie, it doesn’t change the fact that desserts lack the vitamins we need to function. By making room for sugar-packed foods, we are often missing out on other nutrient-dense options.


We all recognize that we need to eat healthier foods, including vegetables, fruits, healthy grains, healthy fats and healthy protein. With all the good foods out there, there should be little room for refined sugar-filled foods. However, once those sugary foods get on to our plates, it’s hard to say no.


Here are some tips to help decrease those cravings and fill your holiday plate with more nutritious foods.


  1. Scientists have found that when people are more stressed, they tend to eat more. In times of stress, we often reach for foods that are high in sugar and fat content. Therefore, it is suggested that we should start practicing daily stress management techniques, like daily meditation or yoga. Additionally, planning out healthy meals and snacks will help to reduce your temptation to grab some holiday goodies.
  2. Another option is to eat meals that are high in fibre, good fats and protein. Foods such as avocado, oatmeal with protein powder, and Greek yogurt help you feel full longer and therefore decrease your chances of reaching for a sweet snack.
  3. Studies show that not getting enough sleep can lead to sugar cravings. The less you sleep, the more you want to eat and reach for the sugary and fatty foods for energy. Ensuring that you sleep eight hours each night will help to reduce these cravings.
  4. Finally, ensure that you eat a full breakfast with a good helping of healthy fat, complex carbohydrates and protein to keep you full before lunch. A healthy lunch and healthy snacks will help you get to dinner without any sugary cravings.


While there is no escaping sugary foods during the holiday season, following these

tips can help to decrease your cravings and let you enjoy yourself. Keep everything in moderation, and you’ll set yourself up for sweet success.


Dr. Rita Patel is a naturopathic doctor who sees patients at Sprains and Strains

Wellness centre in Mississauga and at the Student Health Centre at McMaster

University. She also lectures at McMaster University, the Canadian College of

Naturopathic Medicine and is a clinic supervisor at the Robert Schad Naturopathic