How to Curb Sugar Cravings Culturally speaking, women are the ones with the sweet tooth—and there might actually be some truth to that. A 2004 study showed that women may crave sweets more often than men due to the female hormone estradiol. This hormone is an important part of reproductive and sexual function—which also might explain why some women report sugar cravings around the time of their period or during menopause or perimenopause (pre-menopause).

Other reported causes of sugar cravings could be due to a sluggish or overloaded adrenal gland, a yeast infection, an underactive thyroid gland, an imbalance of beneficial gut bacteria and stress.

Of course, eating healthy can help alleviate many of these issues—and there are also other ways to help curb your cravings.

Use the Salty Sweet Visualization Exercise

Sounds silly—but try this: When you find yourself faced with the temptation to eat something sugary that you’d rather not and your willpower is waning, imagine that you’ve poured salt all over it. For real! Let’s say you’re full but can’t stop eyeballing that plate of cookies on the counter; take a moment and visualize yourself shaking salt all over a cookie and then taking salty bite after salty bite. Experts say this works because, believe it or not, humans have a natural aversion to overly salted foods. This trick works well for a lot of people!

Avoid Processed Foods

Research has shown that sugar lights up the food-reward network in the brain more than fat. This means that high-sugar foods may cause the body to crave more food—and more sweet foods. This is not unlike addictions to drugs like cocaine; the brain becomes wired to crave more and more. Many processed foods contain high levels of sugar among other undesirable ingredients. The more you can avoid these foods, the less likely you are to crave them.

How to Curb Sugar Cravings

Eat More Fermented Foods and Probiotics

Some experts consider adding fermented foods and probiotics into the diet to be one of the best ways to reduce sugar cravings. Fermented foods, fermented liquids and probiotics will help restore a balance in your healthy gut bacteria. (There are millions of microbes in your stomach and intestines. If you have bad gut bacteria/microbes, they can actually influence your cravings through nerve pathways linked between your stomach and brain. Crazy, huh?)

Pickles, sauerkraut, Korean kimchi, miso soup, kombucha tea and live cultured yogurt, like Kefir, are great options. If you’d rather supplement or aren’t getting enough of these foods, select a probiotic that is dairy-free with 5 billion microorganisms per capsule especially containing Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, and Streptococcus thermophiles.

Keep Your Blood Sugar Stable

Sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t keep their blood sugar stable. This instability can cause a lack of energy, an increase in cravings, mood swings, memory issues and imbalanced hormones. To balance your blood sugar eat foods low on the glycemic index (veggies, berries, nuts and seeds), eat several small meals throughout the day, make sure to get protein with every meal, don’t skip breakfast and ditch the sodas.