things that have helped me streamline the sugar

Hi friends! It’s ALMOST THE WEEKEND. This week is flying by, and I have no problem at all with that. I’m looking forward to the weekend ahead with plans with friends and some birthday celebrations.  I also promised Liv that we’d hit up the beach this afternoon since the weather has been dreamy.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Any festivities on the horizon?

Lucky irish girl 

If you do anything, I highly recommend this cocktail. It’s a tradition. 😉 More St. Patrick’s Day recipes are here.

So lately, I’ve received some requests on tips for decreasing sugar intake since I’ve been trying to do this in my own diet. Please keep in mind that I am NOT a Registered Dietitian (but I know a couple of great ones), and am just sharing my experience and some of the things I’ve learned. If you want to make nutrition changes, talk with a doctor or Registered Dietitian in your area. 


Here’s what I’ve been working on:

-Eating more regularly throughout the day. In the newborn and infant survival mode, especially with another kiddo running around, it would be hours and I was like, “Oh yeah. I’m starving!” and then dive face-first into the box of Samoas in the pantry. I never thought it would be possible to forget to eat -I love food way too much- and then I had kids. I’ve been really focusing on eating consistent meals throughout the day and drinking lots of water. Meal prep has helped significantly! If my daytime eats are ready to go, it’s so much easier to get some produce and protein in, which is more satisfying and energizing than a short-term sugar kick. The crash is for real.

Meal prep 3

-Increasing protein and produce intake to build muscle, increase nutrients, and keep my energy up. I’m having protein with every meal, and also eating more healthy carbs than I’m used to. I think I tend to gravitate towards a lower-carb diet, but am enjoying eating sweet potatoes, oatmeal, wild and brown rice, brown rice tortillas, and beans on a more consistent basis. 

As far as decreasing the sugar intake goes, here are some of the things that have helped me:

-Regular meals and water intake, like I mentioned above. This is huge because if I’ve had a healthy meal and am adequately hydrated, I’m not hankering for sugar or something quick out of a package. Meal planning really does save the day.

Soup 1 of 1 14

-Go for naturally-sweet options. If I want something sweet, I’ll have fresh fruit, dates, or a drizzle of honey or maple syrup on my oats or yogurt. I’m also a huge fan of naturally-sweetened baked goodies, like this gooey almond butter cake, molten cakes, raw chocolate pudding, and pumpkin brownies.

-Just because you’re trying to decrease sugar doesn’t mean that your food has to be bland or taste bad. I love using fresh ingredients whenever possible, and have no fear adding spices, fresh herbs, citrus, and aromatics to amp up the flavor of dishes. When you get streamline the sugar and overly-processed stuff, the natural flavors of fresh food stand out even more. Since I’ve been trying to decrease adding sugar in my diet, fruit, sweet potatoes, and dates taste even sweeter and more delicious.

-Drink caffeine. I hit a major slump in the afternoons and really need to power through the dinner and bedtime rituals. When I was having a handful of chocolate chips or cookies out of habit (aka not really enjoying them), I now have a cup of coffee or tea instead. It gives me that same little boost. I just have to be mindful of how much coffee I have during the day because too much affects my anxiety.

Coffee me

-If I’m really craving something, I eat it, enjoy it, and move on with my life. I feel like things become so much more desirable when you tell yourself you can’t have them. So, if I really want something, I make it count, and take the time to really enjoy it. Like Sunday’s donut. I macked that thing.

All in all, I already feel much better when I’m mindful of my sugar intake. I feel like this has been a nice reset to get back in touch with my real cravings, instead of just going through motions that had become habits.

What are some of the things that help you stick to your healthy eating goals? All-time favorite dessert? 



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  1. K on March 17, 2016 at 6:08 am

    Great list. Have you noticed a connection between increased consumption of healthy fats and a decrease in sugar cravings?
    And I love the last tip- life is too short to not indulge here and there.

  2. Sam @ Barrister's Beet on March 17, 2016 at 6:18 am

    Great post and tips! I’m not a huge sweets person (I tend to crave salty things #gimmeallthepickles), but one thing that helps me to decrease sugar cravings is to have tea that has some fruit or mint flavor to it. I also like adding mint and lemon to my water – it kind of tricks me that it’s something sweet. If I’m craving soda or something sweet to drink, I usually have sparkling water with fruit. Happy St. Patty’s Day!

  3. Cara on March 17, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Great tips! I like to have around 10 dark chocolate chips after lunch, and for me, that’s all I need throughout the day. Of course there are days when I eat all the sugar, but I tried going no sugar for 30 days and my cravings were at an all time high by the end. Weird.

    • Sarah @ SarahRuns26 on March 17, 2016 at 6:40 am

      When I gave up sugar I had hardcore cravings for about three weeks then they finally passed. It was crazy, I was craving things I wasn’t even eating before I gave it up! It was so strange (and frustrating)!

  4. Jessica on March 17, 2016 at 6:25 am

    What is that casserole in your food prep picture? It looks fantastic!

    • Rebecca on March 17, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Yes! I was going to ask the same thing… Recipe?:)

  5. Sarah @ SarahRuns26 on March 17, 2016 at 6:39 am

    I gave up sugar for Lent. I was eating far too much and was in the habit of having some kind of dessert every night. That needed to stop. For the first three weeks I was craving ALL.THE.SUGAR. Now that I’m passed that, I don’t have any problem saying no. Since the cravings stopped, I’ve had a few things with sugar, but just the things I really wanted. Homemade goodies, stuff I can’t have everyday, etc. I enjoyed them, then moved on and didn’t feel like I needed more later. It’s great!

  6. Sara @ Oats & Rows on March 17, 2016 at 6:46 am

    Great post, Gina! All time favorite dessert is a brownie. Nothing better than a fudgy gooey brownie! I also try and plan out my treats, so my head knows I am still going to have one, it’s just not right then and there. Then that turns in to me justifying them too regularly.

  7. Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed on March 17, 2016 at 6:47 am

    It’s crazy how sweet fruit tastes when you’re not eating tons of sugar!

  8. Liz on March 17, 2016 at 6:54 am

    I find that it’s such a matter of habit, too. When I’m in the habit of eating more sugary stuff, I start to crave it and expect it all the time. When I cut it out, I barely notice it missing from my diet. Breaking the habit is the hardest part.

  9. Erin Motz on March 17, 2016 at 6:55 am

    ugh, so so tough! i actually went cold turkey for a week, and by the end of that, my cravings were gone. it was a good reset bc now i can have a small square of dark chocolate and be satisfied instead of needing half a bar! and i also traded sweets for caffeine, haha 😉

  10. Chelsea@RunningWithaWhisk on March 17, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Love the tips! The sugar dragon really does exist, ha. My favorite tip is eating consistently and making sure to include protein and healthy fat in every meal and snack. This keeps me satisfied until my next meal and not reaching for all of the sugar-y things.

  11. Iris on March 17, 2016 at 7:22 am

    I’ve found that healthy fats have been my biggest crave-curber for reducing sugar. Sometimes I like to combine homemade almond butter (just almonds in a food processor) with coconut oil to make balls or bars to stick in the fridge or freezer for when I get a sugar attack. The best. The closest thing to tasty fudge without sugar.

  12. Brynn on March 17, 2016 at 7:25 am

    Keeping my food intake consistent and healthy through the day helps with sugar. But I know a little sugar won’t be the end of the world. So I do my best where and when I can and if I really want a bit of chocolate, I go for it and move on.

  13. on March 17, 2016 at 8:50 am

    I really appreciate this post. I can relate to it SO much especially the part about having kids. I used to make the most elaborate lunches and meals for myself, but after kids it was like, “whatever is easiest!” And, yes, you can forget to have a meal or snack and then eat your way through the fridge. I like to keep nuts and a larabar in my bag at all times. I never want to be stuck anywhere when I am hungry!

  14. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on March 17, 2016 at 9:08 am

    I always tell the people I work with that sugar cravings are a sign that your body is missing something. Missing enough sleep, missing activity or missing vital nutrients. We often get into a bad cycle of eating processed foods with hidden sugars in them. Our body’s hunger is a way of telling us that we need more whole grains, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Once you switch that way of eating, sugar becomes less attractive.

  15. Julie on March 17, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Great post! I do all the same things, but wanted to chime in on your last point especially. I can’t tell you much it has changed my life (& eating habits!) to let go of the guilt associated w/ “forbidden” foods. For years I obsessed about eating healthy all.the.time & wouldn’t allow myself a “treat”. When I did “fall off the wagon” (which was inevitable since I was always craving what I wouldn’t let myself have), I did so in a major way. It was a vicious cycle of guilt & regret, cravings, etc. I’m not really sure how or when, but a few years ago something clicked, & I realized that a treat here & there isn’t going to make me fat. Now I eat healthy 90% of the time (because that’s what makes me feel good), but if I’m at a party or see a treat I really want (or if it’s Saturday! :D), I happily indulge & don’t look back. I don’t hate myself for it; I enjoy it and move on. Then I’m back to my healthy eats the next day because that’s what I’m craving b/c that’s what makes my body feel good. 🙂

    • Julie on March 17, 2016 at 9:12 am

      Ha ha that was a long, drawn out way to say “I agree!” 😛

  16. Erica on March 17, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Eating lots of healthy fats helps to keep my sugar cravings at bay!

  17. Jodie on March 17, 2016 at 9:48 am

    All time fav dessert is tiramisu! 🙂 drinking a lot of water and eating regularly has helped me a lot .

  18. Heather@hungryforbalance on March 17, 2016 at 10:00 am

    These are great tips! I’m working on decreasing my sugar consumption too, but I tend to go overboard with fruits. Even though they are healthy, I have to remind myself to be more balanced.

  19. Yvette on March 17, 2016 at 10:17 am

    So, umm what’s going on in that soup up there? It looks delish!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Sky on March 17, 2016 at 10:26 am

    I find that drinking a lot of water and eating naturally sweet foods helps a lot. I eat a sweet potato with a drizzle of honey every night!

  21. Cassie on March 17, 2016 at 10:28 am

    This is so me right now! Drinking water helps. And I love tea in the afternoon.

  22. Sarah on March 17, 2016 at 10:44 am

    I’m also trying to seriously limit my sugar intake this week, just to reduce the cravings and change my habits. I find the balance between foods that are low in sugar but easy prep, as a challenge. Lately it has been a lot of salted nuts and hard boiled eggs as snacks. Coffee in the morning really helps, but I can’t drink any in the afternoon (or else I won’t sleep at night)!
    I find that I really am full and not hungry, but it’s the afternoon stress after a day of meetings that really brings out that sugar monster for me!

  23. Jaclyn Kirsch on March 17, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Do you have thoughts about places sugar could be hidden that I don’t know I’m eating?

  24. Tracy on March 17, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Please share a link to that beautiful veggie soup pic!

    I don’t really have a sweet tooth (I’d much rather have a couple spoonfuls of nut butter!), but I do adore any fruit crisp or crumble. YUM!!

  25. Jill @ Champagne for Everyday on March 17, 2016 at 11:23 am

    Such a good point about food not needing to taste bland just because you’re not adding sugar. There’s an assumption that if we cut tasty things like sugar or salt, things won’t taste good, but there are always delicious alternatives, which are easy to find thanks to blog posts like this 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    San Francisco’s Best Spa – Posh Treatments In A Historic Neighborhood

  26. Amanda @ Cheers to the Weekends on March 17, 2016 at 11:42 am

    That chicken greek salad looks delicious!!

    I really try to curb sugar in my diet. Sometimes it is hard on the go without meal prep. I grab a bar from the office snacks and then later discover that it has 15+ grams of sugar! YIKES.

  27. Jessie R on March 17, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Oh the sugar monster, it’s so real! I didn’t pack enough protein in my lunch yesterday, and ended up eating several small cookies from my emergency snack drawer… whoops 🙂 . I would say any combo of peanut butter and chocolate is my favorite dessert.

  28. Caroline M. on March 17, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Great post! I love my sugar a lot (any and all cake!!!) but I want to work on getting more nutrients because I know I feel better when I eat a well-rounded mix of carbs, fats, and protein. I find my sugar cravings go through the roof when I’m not sleeping enough (I can only imagine what that must be like with two, wee ones…) so if I notice my cravings are going haywire I try to take a nap or get a good night of sleep!

  29. Amanda @ Exploring Life & Things on March 17, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    I agree so much when you said when something becomes off limits it becomes more desirable.. I find that so true! I try not to buy too many sweets/sugary snacks because I know I’ll snack on it all the time. Instead of buying a tub of ice cream I’d rather go out for ice cream because it’s more of a “treat” and I don’t inhale a whole thing of it in 3 days haha.

  30. Lexie on March 17, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    try adding more cinnamon into your diet! That’s helped me a ton. It helps prevent sugar cravings and has dramatically shrunk my sweet tooth! I put a ton in my morning coffee or on peanut butter toast or plain apples!

  31. Melissa on March 17, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Hi Gina. I’m going to the Dr Tuesday for anxiety. Which medicine r u taking? And have u noticed any benefit or side effects? I’m so afraid of side effects- I have anxiety about taking the anxiety meds, lol.

  32. Gretchen Cannon on March 17, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    I haven’t caught up on your blog in a while. It was nice to see what you have been up to!

  33. Ashley on March 17, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Lots of great tips! I use the coffee trick all the time, especially when out with friends or family and someone suggests ice cream or something. If I don’t feel like indulging, I’ll grab myself a breve cappuccino and love every sip. Also, 90% dark chocolate is awesome if you’re a chocoholic, but want to limit the sugar! I prefer it now 🙂

  34. Bethany on March 17, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Sounds crazy but I’ve been loving dark chocolate black bean truffles lately.

  35. Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment on March 18, 2016 at 4:33 am

    Keeping your blood sugar level consistent during the day is a big help. Healthy snacks and lots of water are the key. I am a huge fan of dark chocolate and always have an energy bar on hand.

  36. Caroline on March 18, 2016 at 5:29 am

    Hi Gina, I’ve been trying to reduce my coffee intakes. Mostly because it made me wanting more and more coffee just to stay energized after lunch . So I tried to cut back a little and I recently bougth ” Macaccino”. It’s a maca based beverage with cocoa and coconut sugar. I bought it in France but I’m sure you can find it online. First it’s delicious and second, it will give you energy without the shaky feeling of cafeine. Hope you’ll try it because it’s so worth it 🙂

    all the best

    • Fitnessista on March 20, 2016 at 2:52 pm

      i will google this now. thank you!!

  37. Samantha on March 18, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Great tips 🙂 Thank you for sharing. This is something I’ve been trying to work on ! That soup looks delish!

  38. Juliana on March 18, 2016 at 11:29 am

    I am a total Moon Juice devotee (if they opened a shop in San Diego my bank account would be in trouble…), and also a chocoholic, have you checked out their raw chocolate roundup? Mmmmm….

    • Fitnessista on March 20, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      moon juice?! i need to google this

      • Juliana on March 20, 2016 at 2:54 pm

        Yes do it! Amanda Chantal Bacon is my spirit guide. I bet you will love her stuff.

  39. Leslie on March 18, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Thanks for this post! I gave up added sugar for Lent and for the first 3 weeks or so I was a hangry monster. I couldn’t believe the cravings were so strong, and now I can’t believe how little I crave sugar! For me it was craving it whenever I was sleepy. Caffeine, as you said, has helped. I’ve also gotten creative with non added sugar treats: a piece of dried fruit on top of a square of unsweetened chocolate; a warmed mashed up banana mixed with cocoa powder and a touch of milk makes a nice pudding; unsweetened coconut flakes on mangos. Yum!

  40. Michelle @ Vitamin-Sunshine on March 18, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    Great tips 🙂 I had a baby in August– and forgetting to eat is a very real hazard of taking care of a newborn! I survived on cookies and protein bars for months! And until the past few weeks, I was still eating most those things for breakfast every day. I just started the Whole30 to kick that habit, because I found myself coming home from work and wanting nothing but cookies and sweet smoothies– sugar monster in full attack!

  41. adrianna on March 19, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    excellent post! i gave up sugar for Lent…a TRUE sacrifice for me. i love love love brownies, cookies, cake, chocolate. the first few weeks were insanely hard, but it got easier. not going to say i don’t miss those things and i’m not counting the seconds until Easter, bc i certainly am! but i can say no and not think about it all day long. the thing is, i’ve replaced it with more PB/AB, so not sure if it equates ahah. i do probably feel better and definitely sleep better and am a smidge less bloated, but damn i missed my treats. hopefully i can keep it down a bit after Lent is over.

  42. Sarah on March 20, 2016 at 3:58 am

    Hi Gina,

    Thanks for your useful tips. Some months ago I’ve also started my journey to reduce as much added sugar as I can and now I’ve found your blog. This tips are a very good help.

  43. Kara on March 20, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Love this post! Especially the last tip 😉

    I’ve also tried to cut back on sugar – and when I do have it, it’s a mindful treat instead of mindless snacking!

    One of the hardest things (but also most rewarding) was eliminating sugar and cream/milk from my coffee. Now I love my coffee black, and that caffeine in the morning really helps with my morning snack cravings too!!

  44. Robin on March 21, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Thanks for this post! You reminded me that I often just… forget to eat!!! life can be fast paced sometimes & can get in the way of simple things. Thanks for these helpful tips!

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