How To Crowd Out Sugar In Your Diet

This week I was interviewed by the gorgeous Annalisa Rose for the Energize to Thrive Summit and we got onto the topic of sugar cravings and how sugar can have such a profound impact on your energy levels.

But it’s one thing to know that sugar isn’t serving us, but how do we give it up? Or at least reduce it?

Well one technique that I love to use for my clients that I learnt at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition is called crowding out.

The idea of crowding out is to eat the good stuff first and naturally have less room for the “not so good” stuff.

There’s only so much we can comfortably eat in one sitting. Our stomachs have a finite capacity.

Sounds straightforward, right?

Why does crowding out work so well?

Foods that are close to their natural state (clean, whole, real foods) are full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber etc. Eating these foods, like veggies, fruit, whole grains, healthy fats and protein, signals our hunger sensors more effectively.

These foods stabilize our blood sugar thereby naturally supporting us in eating the right amount.Whole foods release their energy slowly and steadily and, conversely, processed foods, refined carbohydrates and/or foods high in refined sugars, spike our blood sugar. A spike in blood sugar brings us up too quickly and then drops us down too quickly. This roller coaster ride creates that hungry/angry /anxious or “hangry” feeling. When our blood sugar crashes, we do not make good decisions. All this has a negative effect on our energy, mood and satisfaction after a meal ­­ which can lead us to poor decisions about the amount we eat.

Tips for crowding out


We all know that staying hydrated is important for our health. It sounds so easy, however most of us do not get enough water in a day. Whether it’s because we are zipping around and forgetting to drink, or maybe we don’t like the taste. Adding in more water can dramatically impact the amount you eat and your cravings…. including your sugar cravings! Many times when we think we are hungry, we are really just thirsty.

Having a craving when you normally wouldn’t be hungry? Try a full glass of water, wait 10 minutes and if you are still hungry have a healthy snack.

Snack Smart:

Check in with your snacks, this is an easy place to add in more veggies between meals and crowd out refined sugars and carbohydrates. Try pre­cutting, washing and packaging cucumbers, carrots, peppers, celery etc. when you get home from the grocery store. When you need a little snack, reach for these already prepared veggies. For a little extra taste and protein, dip them in hummus, pesto or nut butters.

Slow Down

Often we eat when we are bored, stressed, uninspired or ‘somewhere else’ in our heads. Before reaching for that ice-cream, take a breath, ask yourself what am I really hungry for? Crowd out that craving with a short 5­breath meditation, a walk or a laugh over a YouTube video.

Connect to what you really need, because it’s usually not actually the ice-cream.

Study Food, Mood & Movement

The more we connect to the way food makes us feel, and understand that our food is our fuel for life, the more we’re inspired to feed ourselves well. Our habits are linked. We all know this. When we are eating well, we sleep better, workout better, are in a better mood and we make better food choices, and the cycle continues! Health is our vehicle for living the life we want ­­ food is the fuel that drives it. Check in with your energy levels after meals. Study how different forms of movement and different foods impact your energy. Make this connection and find motivation inside to feed yourself well and stay motivated to move it and groove it, often.

Eat the good stuff first

This tip is as simple as it sounds… well hypothetically. When you are at a party or out to dinner, start with the healthy options on your plate. Fill up with these and then move over to the other options. Remember, you can only eat so much in a sitting. Try, once a day, to eat a meal that’s 1⁄2 veggies: steam, bake, eat raw, sauté, get creative. Dessert is the last part of a meal for a reason.

Think abundance not scarcity

It is all about how we choose to look at things. The power is in our perspective. When we are focusing on what we “can’t eat’” or “shouldn’t eat” it makes us want those things more. Bring your attention to all the wonderful healthy foods out there. Choose to look at it as abundance.

And lastly, I just want to share something I heard Dr Libby Weaver say at one of her live events “Some foods nourish our bodies however some foods nourish our soul”.

To your health,


P.S. If you are struggling to lose weight or meet the health goals you want despite doing all “the right things” click below on my new free quiz to find out whats holding you back and what you can do about it. It may not be what you think ?


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Hi, I'm Karen and I work with busy people just like you every day to help them boost energy levels, lose weight, clear up their skin and improve their health through finding the right foods that work for their unique body. My 1-on-1 and group health coaching programs focus on a customized plan for you that fits into your lifestyle and is right for your body. We focus on whole foods and building sustainable habits to transform your life. No dieting, no scales and no feeling deprived. Ready to embrace healthy eating and feel better in your body? Ready to stop feeling tired all the time? Come over and say hello in the Real Energy Food Facebook Group

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