Reach for something bitter to curb your sweet tooth cravings.

Research has found that consuming bitter foods shuts down the receptors in our brains that drive us to desire and consume sugar. Bitter foods and plants can help slow the absorption of sugar and regulate blood sugar levels.

Bitter foods also help suppress the appetite and have a positive effect on healthy eating habits and calorie intake. This is because consuming bitter food stimulates the release of hormones like PYY and GLP-1. These hormones are responsible for controlling the appetite and keeping cravings at bay.

Therefore, bitters in general are a great weapon to control sugar cravings. Almost all bitters will work for this, as long as they contain bittering agents and not just aromatics. Common bittering agents include:

  • artichoke leaf
  • burdock root
  • dandelion root
  • citrus peel
  • licorice root
  • gentian root
  • wormwood

Recipe for bitters that curb sugar cravings

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. dried burdock root
  • 1/2 oz. dried dandelion root
  • 1 tsp. dried orange peel
  • 1 tbsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp. juniper berries
  • 2 tsp. cardamom seeds
  • 8 oz. alcohol (recommended: 100 proof vodka)

Directions

  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a mason jar. Pour alcohol on top.
  2. Seal tightly. Store in a cool, dark place.
  3. Let the bitters infuse until the desired strength is reached, about 2–4 weeks. Shake the jars regularly (about once per day).
  4. When ready, strain the bitters through a muslin cheesecloth or coffee filter. Store the strained bitters in an airtight container at room temperature.

To use: Mix a few drops into club soda for a refreshing drink that snuffs sugar cravings as soon as they start.

Q:

Are there any concerns or health reasons why someone shouldn’t be taking these bitters?

A:

Some plants and herbs may interfere with certain medications. Examples include the following:

• Burdock may have a moderate effect on anticoagulants and diabetes medications.
• Dandelion may interfere with the absorption of antibiotics.
• Artichoke leaf may have a negative effect on those with gallstones by increasing bile flow.

Always speak with your doctor about the specific contraindications about certain plants and herbs when combined with medications. Also, be mindful of any allergies to the ingredients listed. In addition, use caution if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, as there’s not enough reliable information on the safety of certain bitters ingredients.

Natalie Olsen, RD, LD, ACSM EP-CAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

Tiffany La Forge is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer who runs the blog Parsnips and Pastries. Her blog focuses on real food for a balanced life, seasonal recipes, and approachable health advice. When she’s not in the kitchen, Tiffany enjoys yoga, hiking, traveling, organic gardening, and hanging out with her corgi, Cocoa. Visit her at her blog or on Instagram.