When quarantine first started, my boyfriend and I rushed to the grocery store to stock up. There’s something about stocking up that makes you pick up everything you’ve ever wanted. The scarcity mindset led us to buy junk food that we rarely consume but just wanted to have. It’s when I finished two Ben & Jerry ice cream cartons in two days and felt super unmotivated and sluggish—that I realized I needed to stop these intense sugar cravings. While you don’t have to stop eating your favorite snacks all together, I recommend eating less of them to avoid health issues. Sugar consumption increases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, memory, and social behavior. Because sugar boosts serotonin, you feel happier, temporarily, so your brain craves this happy chemical again and again.

I would have ice cream from time to time as a treat before this pandemic, but I wouldn’t have eaten an entire carton in a day. Portion control and balance are key. Most of us know that if we were not working from home, we would not be snacking as much as we probably have these past couple weeks. Since this way of life is going to be the norm for the next couple weeks (most likely but who really knows), let’s start making healthier diet choices together!

Here are 8 foods that will help you stop sugar cravings before they start.

1. Fruit

Fruit is packed with natural sugars and nutrients. Fruit also satisfies you similar to your favorite treats. While a lot of our favorite treats like donuts, cookies, ice cream etc. are full of empty calories, fruit is packed with nutrients like fiber and plant compounds.  Personally, I love apples and berries. I add some yogurt and granola to help fill me up and I’m good to go! It’s vital to not go overboard with fruit because you can overload on sugar from too much fruit. Make sure to pay attention to your portions.

2. Almond butter

I love almond butter so much! I remember when I first discovered it at Trader Joes and became hooked. It’s full of healthy fats and protein, which will make you feel full. I opt for unsweetened almond butter to further lower my sugar consumption. When you’re craving something sweet especially after a meal, eat a scoop of almond butter. I like to put almond butter on apple slices or celery for a yummy snack.

3. Dark Chocolate

We all know dark chocolate has nothing on milk chocolate in terms of taste! However, dark chocolate is much healthier for you. I love to get dark chocolate covered almonds from Trader Joes, they’re so good! When buying dark chocolate, make sure to read the label. You want the cocoa content to be 70% or more and the grams of sugar to be less than 5 grams of sugar per serving.

4. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the tastiest and healthiest spices. It has been proven to lower blood sugar levels and reduce heart disease risk factors. I love to put cinnamon on slices of apples. It’s good on top of yogurt, oatmeal, or in your coffee or tea as well.

5. Kombucha 

Kombucha tastes good and it makes me feel energized and overall healthier. Its tangy flavor will satisfy your taste buds in the same way sugar does. The best part is it’s packed with probiotics and prebiotics, which keeps your gut healthy. Keeping your gut healthy is vital for your immune system and overall physical and mental health.

6. Zinc

If you find yourself craving sugar much more than usual, you may be zinc deficient. Zinc helps us get your needed insulin and glucose, so when it’s not present, it can make us want sugar. Some of my favorite zinc packed foods are mushrooms, dark chocolate, spinach, oysters, beans, chicken, shrimp and chickpeas.

7. Water 

So many of us mistake thirst for hunger. Before you grab a snack, drink a bottle of water and see how you feel after. I make sure to get my daily water consumption by keeping track of how many bottles I consume. My favorite reusable water bottle is the Finesse Fitness Water Bottle.

8. Herbal Tea

I love herbal teas in the middle of the afternoon or right before bed. Yogi teas are my go-to. Herbal teas tend to be slightly sweet naturally, so they’ll hydrate you and curb your sugar cravings.