Reason #1 you crave sugar: you have a bacteria imbalance in your gut. The little bacteria / yeasts that can overgrow in your intestines feed on sugar. They’re literally telling your brain, “Feed me!”
Reason #2 you crave sugar: you are stressed out or otherwise just not happy in your current situation. You want something “sweet” but not necessarily on a plate.
Reason #3 you crave sugar: you need some quick energy / you have a deficiency of some vitamin(s). Iron, magnesium, protein, or vitamin B deficiencies could all cause cravings.
So, yes, there are sweet food alternatives for less healthy sugary snacks, but really we also need to address the real root (or roots) of the problem in the first place.
1 Sweet Potato – sweet potatoes are creamy, satisfying, and naturally sweet. Don’t add more sugar after you bake or boil them: just a little bit of butter, coconut oil, or cinnamon for flavor if you like. I like to mash mine with grass-fed butter and raw whole milk. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes are grounding and earthy so will help you feel calm. Plus they are a great source of vitamins like vitamin A and trace minerals.
2 Plain, full-fat Yogurt – this is what I eat when I crave ice cream. If you like, add some liquid stevia drops, cherry extract, berries, nut butter, etc.
3 Green Tea – this is called “dancer’s tea” in China. My friend, who is quite thin, went to China a few summers ago and someone remarked, “You must drink a lot of green tea!” Since the tea is slightly bitter, it causes a subtle appetite reduction.
4 Water with Lemon / Lime – the sour taste cancels out the sweet taste, according to Chinese medicine. Plus, citrus water is very alkaline, which is like healthy and stuff.
5 Nut Butters – this is another one of my go-to snacks. Hungry right before bed? Have a spoonful of almond / peanut butter. It will fill you up. The fats and proteins will keep you satiated and full-feeling.
6 Dark Chocolate – yes, it does have some sugar, but if you get over 70% dark cacao chocolate, it’s really not too much sugar. And for some situations where you are craving chocolate, do the dark chocolate. If you crave chocolate, you are probably deficient in magnesium, and cacao is a great source of mag.
7 Carrots – another root vegetable like sweet potatoes above. Easy to keep on hand when you’re on the go – traveling or at work.
8 Fruit: Dates, Raisins, etc. – yes, fruit is a source of sugar, but at least it also includes fiber and vitamins. Just don’t overdo it. A little bit of naturally sweet fruit is sometimes enough to quell the craving.
Just remember, these foods are sweet, and therefore not exactly something you want to base your entire diet on, but just as occasional snacks. If your diet is based more on good proteins, healthy fats, and a wide variety of vegetables, you will probably find your sweet cravings lessening.
I also find that many people whose diet is overly sweet are lacking in a variety of other flavors: bitter, sour, and pungent. Your taste buds get used to just getting the sweet stuff, and the other – more varied and healthier options – get waylaid. In this case, you may have to (gently) force yourself to eating things that “don’t sound good” until you can vary your taste buds a little. Open your mind and mouth to trying new flavors!