10 Foods to Put on Your Grocery List When You’re Trying to Avoid Sugar

Foods for Avoiding Sugar Cravings

Trying to cut back on sugar? It’s a good thing to do. Americans, on the whole, eat and drink far too much added sugar, averaging about 22 teaspoons a day. Recommendations are that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons a day, and men 9.

Excess sugar has been linked with overweight and obesity, oral health issues, addictive-like behaviors, and premature skin aging. A high glycemic load (increased blood sugar levels associated with intake of sweets and highly processed starches) has been linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Limiting your sugar intake can be challenging, though, especially on those days when you’re tired or stressed. These are the days the body and brain scream for fast energy, and that candy bar or chocolate cake can look just too good to pass up.

Once you’ve convinced yourself that it’s time to cut down on sugar, you probably know a lot of items that you should eliminate from your diet. But what should you be adding?

Below you will find 10 foods that can save the day when you’re suffering from those inevitable sugar cravings. Pack your cabinets and refrigerator with these for regular use or just for emergencies!

10 Foods to Put on Your Grocery List When You're Trying to Avoid Sugar

1. Water

It sounds plain, but drinking a nice tall glass of ice water (maybe with a little lemon in it) can go a long way toward helping you forget about your sugar cravings. It will help you feel full, quench your thirst (we often crave food when we’re actually thirsty), and if you have to get up and go get it, it will get you moving, too, which can help you clear your head.

2. Green tea

Did you know that green tea (and other types of tea) can help regulate sugar levels? If you drink about four cups a day, you can even potentially reduce high blood sugar levels. It can also help suppress appetite overall, which makes it a great choice when you’re craving something unhealthy.

3. Sweet potato

Because of its naturally sweet taste, the sweet potato can help you satisfy your yearnings for sugar, yet it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels like white potatoes can. It’s full of good-for-you nutrients, too, like potassium, vitamins C and A, and magnesium. Try roasted sweet potato strips for a snack or baked sweet potatoes at dinner.

4. Berries

These are low glycemic fruits, meaning they won’t send your blood sugar levels flying, but they’re also naturally sweet, and easy to pop into your mouth. This is a fun, tasty snack that will help you sidestep that office birthday cake.

5. Plain Greek yogurt

A lot of yogurts are full of added sugars. Avoid these, and choose the plain Greek yogurt. It’s full of protein, which has been shown to help soothe the reward centers in your brain, calming the craving for sugar. Flavor it with a few of your berries, if you like.

6. Nuts

Speaking of protein, nuts are full of it, and they make a super satisfying snack. They’re full of healthy fats, which help you feel satiated. They’re powerhouses of nutrition, delivering high levels of nutrients and fiber which soothes digestion and keeps you feeling full for hours. Choose almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, and any other nut that sounds good to you. Macadamias have a naturally sweet taste that may be especially timely when you’re craving cookies.

7. Apples

These are naturally sweet, but not so much that they'll raise your blood sugar levels. They’re full of fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients, and also have a good amount of “pectin,” which keeps you full for longer.

8. Coconut

It’s nearly sugar-free by nature, but yet it tastes like a treat, doesn’t it? It’s also full of protein and fiber—a truly satiating food—and has natural fats that give your brain what it hopes for. Try raw treat bites, coconut in your granola bars, or some coconut water. We love Thrive Market’s selection of coconut products.

9. Eggs

Full of appetite-soothing protein, eggs are known for satisfying pretty much any craving. They help keep you full, and are also full of B vitamins—great for reducing stress, which is often the reason we feel cravings in the first place. Studies have also shown that eating eggs for breakfast can help you consume fewer calories throughout the day. Try some hard-boiled eggs when you’re craving sweets, or add a few slices to a green salad.

10. Tomatoes

Bet you wouldn’t have thought of this one, right? Tomatoes are high in serotonin—the “feel good” neurotransmitter in the brain. Studies have found that when your brain is low on serotonin, it will crave sugars and simple carbohydrates (which break down quickly into sugars in the body). Eating a few tomatoes can help satisfy what your brain craves, and you’ll no longer need that sugary food. Other items high in serotonin include avocados, eggplants, and walnuts.

Do you have other healthy foods that help you overcome sugar cravings? Please share them with our readers.


Circulation – Sugar and Cardiovascular Disease: AHA Scientific Statement

International Journal of Obesity – Egg Breakfast Enhances Weight Loss

Obesity Research & Clinical Practice – Brain Serotonin, Carbohydrate-craving, Obesity and Depression

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – Serotonin Content of Foods: Effect on Urinary Excretion of 5-Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid

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Reader Interactions


    • joan says

      Be sure you are using true cinnamon..”verum” specifically, if using medicinally. Its the only variety that does not have high toxicity for liver conditions etc.
      In addition, raw cultured sauerkraut is a craving buster especially for sweets, alcohol, and “white food,” meaning sugar, flour, and processed foods.
      The natural bacteria and enzymes are great for probiotic and eaten as a snack, chewing well, or in place of sweets, it can be eaten all times of the day. A little goes a long way!

  1. Geoff says

    Bananas? Uh, they don’t belong on a list for foods to buy for diabetics. They are very high in sugar. Really bad advice.

    • Annmarie Skin Care says

      Hi Geoff! I think the writer here was just trying to point out that bananas, like tomatoes, have serotonin, but the recommendation is to eat tomatoes. I removed bananas and the other sugary fruits from this list to prevent confusion. 🙂 Thanks for pointing that out.

  2. Debra Jean says

    With anything else, we are all different. No one diet is a fits all.
    I cannot eat yogurt. It contains a protein known as “casein” which causes inflammation. For anyone Type 2 Diabetic who may be trying to reduce/rid inflammation in their body (like me), this is not advice to take in eating yogurt.
    I’ve followed all the popular diets, eat this, don’t eat that, eat these foods to fill you up, drink a lot of water which will fill you up. Not a thing has worked for me. Hormones have a lot to do with weight. So don’t spout out these 10 foods and have people possibly perceive if they eat/drink these suggested foods, they will lose weight. It isn’t true. each person should follow what is right for his/her body type. There is way too much information overload these days telling people what they should/should not be doing to lose weight. And yes, apples are great for fiber, but again, full of sweet sugar.

  3. coral says

    when I get sugar cravings, and my serotonin levels are low, I take a nice fairtrade cocao powder called El Ceibo which has a nice almond aftertaste and mix it up with a bit of hot water, to make a kind of expresso…it works a treat, and its delicious 🙂

  4. Ozgood says

    Yes! Having a powdered green drink every morning has completely neutralized my cravings for sugar. Full of sea greens, herbs, and grasses, the high mineral content satisfies every cell in my body so I’m not yearning for some unknown that masquerades as sugar. I am so thankful, and it’s easy too!

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