The Daily Beet

17 Apr Lani is back and talking about sugar!

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We are having an amazing time in Hawaii! We should probably stop reminding everyone that are in Hawaii! Speaking of adventures….

Lani went on an incredible adventure, she’s going to have to write about it for us. She goes to all corners of the world and stays plant-strong!

Here is a video from her recent adventure:

Today, Lani answers the sugar question.

Q.  I can’t seem to overcome this horrible SUGAR addiction. It’s maddening and the craving causes me to eat chocolate. ugh…. suggestions?

Lani:  Yes, I have suggestions.  Very specifically. And I have to tell you, this is not uncommon for people who are making a dietary change.

I’m going to ask you first to reflect on this question:  When, during the day, do these cravings occur for you?  Do you wake up craving sugar and wanting chocolate?  Does it happen for you mid-morning?  In the evening?  Is it all during the course of the day?

The reason I ask the question is this: The first line of defense against craving for sweets is to be sure that you are eating enough, on time, of quality foods. And that means, be sure you are eating to satiety.  “On time” means don’t let yourself go extended periods of time just waiting out the hunger.  Because guess what.  That sugar stuff will bite you in the butt every single time.

Look at the things you are combining here.  You are combining a level of stress – hunger is stress. And stored hunger is highly stressful.  Don’t let yourself try to push through to later meals as a clock-watcher.  If you’re hungry mid-morning, you should be ready and prepared with quality food because what you eat at breakfast, what you eat at second breakfast – if you have that – and what you eat at lunch – all these have an effect later in the day.

If you are skating your hunger a little bit during the course of the day, not paying attention to your hunger, or being too busy to eat, I can guarantee that later on you’re going to get hit with the cravings for sugar.

Another thing I want to add to this.  You say “sugar”, but then you mention chocolate.  Most chocolate candy gets more than half of its calories from fat. When people tell me “I’m craving carbs!  I’m just craving carbs!” I’ll ask, “Well, what do you want?”  Often they’ll say, “I really feel like chocolate or cookies!” and I’ll say “Well, cookies are fat! Half the calories or more in cookies come from the fat. The sugar adds to it, giving you the sugar-fat combination.”

So all these things suggest to me that you have possibly some stored hunger.  Deeper than that is the possibility that you have a super-high sensitivity to sugar, which means you have to be  much stricter about not having it around as then you’ll eat it.

But try this first. Try eating preventatively so that those cravings don’t come up.  That was a big one for me.  I used to think I was a sweetaholic or sugaraholic, yet as soon as I started making sure I was eating to satiety early in the day – man!  I used to think I was an emotional eater.  And I’m not saying we don’t get stressed out and want to eat the ‘comfort’ foods, but I’ll tell you, getting stressed out is compounded by stored hunger, and eating well and often from early in the day makes a big difference.

It may mean that you need to take a closer look at how well or how on time you are eating that first meal of the day.  Pay attention to being well fed on good quality, whole plant foods from early in the day and watch those cravings start to evaporate.


Lani Muelrath is a plant-strong fitness expert! Lani is the creator of The Body Transformation Formula and Fit Quickies™ 5 Minute Workouts. She has a Master’s Degree in Physical Education and over 30 years of experience as a teacher, coach, and trainer. She has received awards for her instruction, created and starred in her own CBS TV Show, and her expertise in the area of health and fitness is called upon by examiner.com, as Fitness Expert for Dr. John McDougall’s Health and Medical Center, coach, Dr. Neal Barnard’s 21-Day Kickstart program, and Health and Fitness Lifestyle Expert for Vegan Mainstream.com. She is Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University. She and her husband also built their house with their own hands!


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Engine 2 Team
Engine 2 Team

The Engine 2 Team is dedicated to helping you become plant-strong! Each of us are on the plant-strong journey right along side of you!

  • TD
    Posted at 11:18h, 17 April

    This is good info. I struggle with sugar cravings in the afternoon and evening. Usually after eating a meal. I could be very addicted to sugar, because I was fed it from birth. We even ate sugar sandwiches as kids. I’ve been addicted almost a lifetime. I’ve cut way back, but having trouble kicking it altogether.

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 18:24h, 17 April

      Sugar sandwiches! Now that you mention it, I remember the joy of putting a spread of butter on a piece of bread and rolling it around in the sugar drawer – I haven’t thought of that in years!

      Keep up with enough fruit, and don’t allow yourself to cut too much on calorie density, so that you stay satisfied.

      Enjoy what you eat!


  • Shanna
    Posted at 12:32h, 17 April

    I ate black bean/sauteed onion, poblanos,mushroom enchiladas with about 1 and 1/2 cups of cabbage for breakfast one morning and I had trouble eating the rest of the day! I didn’t crave anything all day. I always want to “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper”.

    I think any loss of sleep quantity and quality can drive me crazy with sweet cravings. When I was exsisting on 4 or less hours of sleep with no possibilty of a nap during the day (4th baby), I literally only wanted M&M’s and donuts, etc. and I am a definite salty/savory snack person to the core!

    • Shanna
      Posted at 12:35h, 17 April

      Oh, I forgot, even the loss of an hour of sleep causes noticeable increase in sweet cravings.

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 18:25h, 17 April

      You are SO smart to make breakfast a feast. We seem to need to learn this one over and over again, and I thank you for sharing your ideas today!


    • Allison
      Posted at 14:54h, 20 April

      Can you share your enchilada recipe?

  • Heidi
    Posted at 22:32h, 17 April

    This was/is totally my experience! And now, if I do get a sugar craving, I tell myself that I can have that sugar if I still want it after a nutritious meal- not once have I wanted the sugar after. This is the first I’ve seen of the idea of preventative eating and I love it! Thanks for your article!

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 07:55h, 18 April

      Heidi, I’m happy to read your response and glad this connects for you – it was a biggie for me too. I appreciate you sharing your experience and enthusiasm!


  • Bo
    Posted at 01:57h, 18 April

    Hi Lani,

    Thank you so much for writing this! It made my day. I have always thought that I am an emotional eater, but what you wrote changed my perception into a kinder way of looking at myself. I think I have been eating too little for so long that I can’t help but binge at night because my body is craving the calories it needs. I’ve been blaming and guilting myself for this every day for too long. Thank you for changing the way I look at myself.

  • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
    Posted at 08:01h, 18 April


    You say:

    “Thank you so much for writing this! It made my day. I have always thought that I am an emotional eater, but what you wrote changed my perception into a kinder way of looking at myself. I think I have been eating too little for so long that I can’t help but binge at night because my body is craving the calories it needs. I’ve been blaming and guilting myself for this every day for too long. Thank you for changing the way I look at myself.”

    I HAD to write it again in quotes because every word is a jewel. Were you on the TeleClass I did for the 21-Day Kickstart last week? I think I said those very words – “used to think I was an emotional eater….” heck, we were just hungry!

    So excited for you. Thanks for speaking up.


  • Anne Bailey
    Posted at 14:00h, 18 April

    Hi Lani,

    Are you doing any speaking on Maui while you are in Hawaii?

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 15:26h, 18 April

      Anne, I wish! I’m not with the team in Hawaii this week, I’m in my office working on my book deadline, photo shoot this weekend, but I’m in the Aloha spirit! Are you there? I think they’re on the Big Island? You on Maui? Hope to meet you someday soon!

      • Anne Bailey
        Posted at 16:15h, 18 April

        Oh my goodness. I’m sorry. I thought from the blog you were here as well. Enjoy your creative work, Hawaii will be here when you have the time.

  • Kate
    Posted at 16:16h, 19 April

    As a child and well into adulthood, I craved sugar. I baked pasteries. I ate candy and chocolate. I breakfasted on waffles and syrup. Plant-strong convinced me to stop that craziness a few years ago. But I still ate WAY too much fruit. After my Japanese aunt told me her childhood diet consisted of miso/seaweed soup and rice, I quit eating sweet stuff, even fruit, for breakfast. Now I eat non-gluten, non-soy miso soup with red rice, adzuki beans, hot and sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, sprouts, greens, snow peas, mushrooms, green onions, dulse, nori, and dehydrated vegetable powder with a side of kim chi and a steaming cup of herbal tea with lemon. It’s not a lot of calories, but satisfies and keeps me going for hours. I guess I’m an honorary Asian. Lunch is a small bowl of lentil or bean soup, a salad, and a 1/2 piece of fruit. Dinner is a ‘mostly green’ smoothie with a little bit of banana, orange, and blueberry. I might or might not snack on hummus and crudites or sliced apples with cinnamon during the day. I don’t crave sugary stuff at all and even sort of gag at the sight of it.

  • DiaSong
    Posted at 02:10h, 20 April

    Yummy, Kate!!
    The vegetarian resort where I lived 4 years offers miso soup on the brekkie line! In Hawaii (one time!) with my friend Nancy & her two daughters, I loved introducing the girls to Miso Soup, & after we got back we had coffee (Kona coffee) at Nancy’s house, & I brought the fixings for Miso soup! Her younger daughter (16) was thrilled!
    Is the non-soy (& GF) miso commercial? Or something you make up?? Sounds delightful! I’m also GF, & so adapting some of the recipes 🙂 & also love dulse, & that Asian style!
    The ‘sugar sandwiches’ tee hee! We’d sprinkle cinnamon sugar on buttered bread or toast, & I put sugar on my frosted flakes!! So when I married my ‘health nut’ (X) hubby 41 years ago, I had to learn to cut WAY back!! We weren’t vegetarian, but impoverished students, so ‘rice n lentils’ was our standard fare several days a week (I still make it! Kind of a stew, with potatoes, carrots, etc) Quinoa is another favorite, which I tend to bake w/amaranth & teff.
    One trick I learned years ago for sweetening things – use squash or pumpkin in rice pudding etc! (I have used flax & pumpkin/applesauce for ‘eggs’ for several years) … and Carob is one of my favorites – tastes sweet, but its pinitol is similar to inulin, & a prebiotic! So the ‘good bacteria’ digest it!
    My standard breakfast is 1 Tbsp chia seeds, a few chopped dried figs, 1/4 C frozen blueberries soaked overnight in herb tea, in AM I add 1/2 C coconut milk kefir & grate 1/2 an apple or pear. That keeps me going most of the morning, & I also take veggie/fruit snacks throughout the day.
    And I like the European way of ending the meal with my salad! So both lunch & dinner I finish with a BIG salad, & love artichoke tapanade & nettle or other pesto as a topping.
    I’ve been perfecting a Carob/black or garbanzo bean ball – think I’ve found the formula! 2 dates to sweeten 16 balls, black beans & coconut flour as the ‘body,’ …. cacao nibs & unsweetened chocolate if I want with the carob …. & cinnamon, ginger etc.

  • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
    Posted at 10:28h, 23 April

    DiaSong. MAN is your post packed with ideas! I too love a good miso soup just as you and Kate do. Last month in Micronesia we had it a lot and it was one dish you knew you could trust.

    Thanks Team for all the great ideas and inspirations!


  • Bridget@MrsGreenJeans
    Posted at 20:09h, 25 April

    I struggle with chocolate/sweet cravings daily. I used to eat chocolate EVERY day after lunch and dinner, went to school to be a pastry chef and that’s probably where my extra fat comes from. I have cravings for sweets/chocolate mostly after lunch and dinner, like right now I want some chocolate. I’m very full I ate stir fry for dinner I ate chocolate oatmeal this morning for breakfast, I still can’t seem to kick the chocolate/sweet cravings..help!

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