Many people regularly experience sugar cravings.

Health professionals believe that this is one of the main reasons it can be so hard to stick to a healthy diet.

Cravings are driven by your brain's need for a "reward" — not your body's need for food.

If you can have only one bite and stop there, indulging a little when you get a craving is absolutely fine.

But if you tend to binge and overeat as soon as you get a taste of sugary foods, then giving in to the cravings is the worst thing you can do.

Here is a simple 3-step plan to stop sugar cravings.

3 Step Plan to Stop Sugar Cravings

It’s important to realize that a craving is not the same as hunger.

It's not your body calling for energy, it’s your brain calling for something that releases a lot of dopamine in the reward system.

When you get a craving when you’re hungry, the feeling is difficult to resist.

In fact, a craving combined with hunger is a powerful drive that most people have a hard time overcoming.

If you get a craving while hungry, one of the best tricks is to eat a healthy meal immediately. Stock your kitchen with healthy snack foods or pre-made meals.

Protein-rich foods, such as meat, fish and eggs are especially good for curbing hunger (1).

Eating real food may not feel very appetizing when you have a craving for sugary junk food. But if you truly need to lose weight, resilience is worth it in the long run.

Summary When you experience a craving and hunger at the same time, force yourself to have a healthy meal rather than junk food.

Some people who experience sugar cravings have found that hot showers or baths provide relief.

The water must be hot — not so hot that you burn your skin but hot enough that it’s on the verge of feeling uncomfortable.

Let the water run over your back and shoulders so that it heats you up. Stay there at least 5–10 minutes.

By the time you step out of the shower, you are likely to have a "dazed" feeling, as if you've been sitting in a sauna for a long time.

At that point, your craving will most likely be gone.

Summary Anecdotal reports suggest that hot showers or baths may be effective at stopping cravings.

Another thing that can work is to go outside for a brisk walk.

If you are a runner, running will be even better.

This serves a two-fold purpose. First, you are distancing yourself from the food that you are craving.

Second, the exercise will release endorphins, or "feel good" chemicals in your brain, which can help turn the craving off.

If you can't go outside, do a few exhausting sets of burpees, push-ups, body weight squats or any other body-weight exercise.

Summary Going for a brisk walk or running may help reduce cravings.

I am pretty sure the three steps above would work for most people to shut down a sugar craving.

But of course, the best option by far is to prevent these cravings in the first place.

To do that, toss all junk foods out of your house. If you keep them within close reach, you're asking for trouble. Instead, keep healthy foods within easy reach.

Also, if you eat healthy and exercise several times per week, chances are you won't get cravings nearly as often.

Here are 11 more useful tips to stop sugar cravings:

  1. Drink a glass of water. Some people say that dehydration can cause cravings.
  2. Eat a fruit. Having a piece of fruit may help satisfy sugar cravings for some people. Bananas, apples, oranges work great.
  3. Avoid artificial sweeteners. If you feel that artificial sweeteners trigger cravings for you, you might want to avoid them (2).
  4. Eat more protein. Protein is great for satiety, and it may help with cravings as well (1).
  5. Talk to a friend. Call or meet someone who understands what you're going through. Explain that you're going through a craving and ask for a few words of encouragement.
  6. Sleep well. Getting proper, refreshing sleep is important for overall health and may help prevent cravings (3).
  7. Avoid excess stress. Same as with sleep, avoiding stress can help prevent cravings (4).
  8. Avoid certain triggers. Try to avoid specific activities or places that give you cravings, such as walking past McDonald's.
  9. Take a multivitamin. This will help prevent any deficiencies.
  10. Read your list. It can be very helpful to carry a list of the reasons you want to eat healthy, as it can be hard to remember such things when you get a craving.
  11. Don't starve yourself. Try to prevent yourself from becoming too hungry between meals.
Summary Numerous other methods may help you overcome a craving for sugar. These include drinking a glass of water, getting good sleep and eating high-protein foods.

If you can eat junk food every now and then without binging and ruining your progress, then do it.

That means you are one of the lucky people who can enjoy these things in moderation.

But if you just cannot control yourself at all around such foods, try to avoid them as much as possible.

Giving in to a craving will just feed the addiction.

If you manage to resist, the cravings will get weaker over time and eventually disappear.