5 Tips to Combat Sugar Cravings When You’re Going Through Menopause

Sugar Cravings


One battle that many ladies fight during menopause is sugar cravings. Some women experience overwhelming cravings for sugary foods during the early phases of the menopausal transition. The fluctuating hormones, high levels of physical and emotional stress, sleep deprivation, and the discomfort of hot flashes can trigger an overwhelming desire to eat unhealthy sweet foods.

Why are sugar cravings more common during and after menopause? Hormonal changes and stress are factors, but a study published in the British Dental Journal in 2003 suggests another possibility. Women lose the ability to taste sweetness after menopause, according to Turkish researchers. Because foods taste less sweet, there’s a tendency to eat more of them to feel satisfied.

Of course, this isn’t the only cause but it’s an interesting one. Sugar cravings during menopause are triggered by a complex interplay of lifestyle factors and changes in hormones, including sex hormones and cortisol.

Gradually Scale Back on Sugar

How can you overcome those cravings and the “need” for sugar? You tame those sugar cravings by gradually substituting real food for processed sugary snacks. This approach will allow you to still satisfy the desire to eat without worsening sugar cravings. Feeding a sugar craving only triggers more cravings in the future.

Why does sugar fuel sugar cravings? When you eat something sweet, sugar or refined carbohydrates, you get a surge in blood sugar and insulin and a rapid rise and fall in your blood glucose level. These fluctuations trigger a greater desire to eat something. Plus, some people feel more anxious and fatigued when their blood sugar drops.

The solution? Take the slow but steady approach. Eliminating sugar completely from your diet will cause you to feel deprived and unsatisfied at first. Therefore, lower your intake slowly, so your body can adapt. Scale back a little more each day or week. For example, one less spoonful of sugar in your coffee or tea. Then think about healthier substitutions for the sugar you currently eat.

Here are healthier substitutions:

  • A bowl of berries for a sugar dessert
  • Green tea as a replacement for soft drinks
  • A handful of nuts as a replacement for chips and other crunchy snacks
  • Steel-cut oats in place of packaged breakfast cereal
  • Stevia (in moderation) as a replacement for sugar

A quote by Joe Fuhrman, a physician, and author who emphasizes a micronutrient-rich diet, points out the importance of making healthy substitutes:

“Meetin the body’s micronutrients needs help to suppress food cravings, and high-nutrient foods do not produce dangerous addictive cravings.”

— Joel Fuhrman

Take his advice to heart.

Add More Protein to Your Diet

If you have sugar cravings after menopause, add more protein-rich foods to your plate. Protein is more satiating than the other macronutrients, and research shows that it helps reduce hunger, increases fullness, and may reduce your calorie intake. It doesn’t have to be animal-based protein either. Plant-based protein contains fiber that also helps you feel fuller and more satisfied. Get protein at every meal starting with breakfast.

Adding a source of protein to your plate will help stabilize your blood sugar and reduce cravings.  Include a quality source of protein along with some colorful vegetables and fruits such as broccoli, spinach, bell peppers, etc. Add healthy fats like avocado, nuts, or seeds to your plate for a boost of satiety and energy. Keep your meals nutrient-dense, so you’re getting a balanced array of nutrients.


Cortisol is another cause of sugar cravings. Your adrenal glands release more cortisol when you’re anxious or stressed. Plus, cortisol release also increases with age. Along with other negative effects, cortisol increases sugar cravings. Cravings for sugar and carbohydrates can be powerful and hard to suppress. Those pesky cravings can appear out of the blue, and you may feel you have no control over them. What can you do?

When a sugar craving strikes, relax and do a 5- or 10-minute meditation session. Studies suggest meditation helps lower cortisol and reduce the desire to eat sugar. Meditation is not only a diversion from cravings, but it teaches mindfulness, so you derive more pleasure from eating whole foods low in sugar. Then, enjoy a healthier substitute like a bowl of blueberries.

Focus on Sleep

Lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep can also increase cortisol and sleep problems are common during menopause. Even women who never had sleep issues prior to mid-life can experience them during and after menopause. One reason sleep problems increase is night sweats and hot flashes become an issue for some women and when they strike, it’s difficult to stay asleep.

Sleep problems are an issue for many women. In the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, one in five women over 50 have sleep issues. Night sweats only aggravate the problem. Therefore, it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene and make sleep a priority during and after menopause.

Check Your Blood Sugar Level

Sugar cravings can also be a sign of early insulin resistance and pre-diabetes. Get a check-up and lab studies to ensure your blood sugar is in the normal range, and you don’t have other health issues, like an underactive thyroid, that can increase your appetite. These health issues become more common after menopause. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 34 percent of Americans have prediabetes, and many don’t know it. Fortunately, weight loss and lifestyle changes can sometimes reverse this condition, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The Bottom Line

Sugar cravings are one of the most common symptoms of menopause and among the most challenging to deal with. They come at a time when you’re already facing other challenges like hot flashes. Plus, the foods you crave during and after menopause are often unhealthy. Now you know why they occur and how to tame them.


  • “Cravings | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School ….” .hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/cravings/.
  • “Hot flashes – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic.” 31 Aug. 2021, .mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hot-flashes/symptoms-causes/syc-20352790.
  • “Prevalence of Prediabetes Among Adults | Diabetes | CDC.” .cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics-report/prevalence-of-prediabetes.html.
  • Delilbasi C, Cehiz T, Akal UK, Yilmaz T. Evaluation of gustatory function in postmenopausal women. Br Dent J. 2003 Apr 26;194(8):447-9; discussion 441. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.4810030. PMID: 12778099.
  • Veldhorst M, Smeets A, Soenen S, Hochstenbach-Waelen A, Hursel R, Diepvens K, Lejeune M, Luscombe-Marsh N, Westerterp-Plantenga M. Protein-induced satiety: effects and mechanisms of different proteins. Physiol Behav. 2008 May 23;94(2):300-7. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2008.01.003. Epub 2008 Jan 12. PMID: 18282589.

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