There is no shortage of silly advice on how to reduce sugar cravings, the seemingly irresistible desire for something sweet. “Eat just a little,” “Combine sweets with other foods,” “Get more protein” or other advice dominates this conversation. This advice is ineffective and makes no physiological sense.

Yet it is possible to completely ablate this impulse, turn it off entirely and put you back in the driver’s seat of appetite. But it requires some unconventional thinking that, I hope, you have come to expect from the discussions I provide.

So if you want to completely eliminate sugar cravings, consider the following:

Never limit dietary fat—Cutting total or saturated fat means that you are reducing a major determinant of satiety, of feeling satisfied. If you ate a big steak, complete with the fat, you would be far less likely to have a desire for a sugary desert. Add more olive oil, butter, fatty foods like eggs and avocado, never choose lean cuts of meat, eat the fat, boil the leftover carcass of the chicken, turkey, or other animal and do not skim off the fat that layers to the top when cooled. Fat intake has nothing to do with risk for heart disease, despite repeated urgings from conventional thinkers to reduce fat intake. (Instead, address the real causes of heart disease that have nothing to do with dietary fat intake.)

Eliminate all wheat and grains—By doing so, you eliminate the gliadin protein of wheat that, upon partial digestion (since humans lack the digestive enzymes to reduce the gliadin protein down to single amino acids like other protein sources) to 4- or 5-amino acid long peptide fragments. These peptides enter the brain where they bind to opioid receptors and stimulate appetite, specifically for sugary snacks. Eliminate all wheat and grains and thereby exposure to these peculiar peptide fragments and appetite shrinks, desire for sweets is reduced or disappears.

Restore Lactobacillus reuteriL. reuteri, lost by most modern people due to its susceptibility to common antibiotics, when restored takes up residence in the entire length of GI tract, from mouth to anus, and sends a signal to the brain via the vagus nerve to release the hormone, oxytocin. Oxytocin, in turn, “turns off” the desire for snacking, so-called “hedonic eating.” We use my method of prolonged fermentation to make “yogurt” in the presence of prebiotic fibers to obtain bacterial counts (by flow cytometry) of 250-300 billion per 1/2-cup serving that yields big biological effects.

Address intestinal fungal overgrowth—Identification of fungal overgrowth in the colon or even in the entire 30-feet of GI tract (small intestinal fungal overgrowth, SIFO) can be identified by stool testing or obtaining an aspirate at time of upper endoscopy. If fungal numbers are abnormally high from either end, fungal overgrowth is present that, via an unidentified metabolite, triggers sugar cravings. Because identification of fungal overgrowth is a bit tricky, many people just embark on an effort to reduce (not eradicate, as fungi also provide some beneficial effects) empirically, i.e., based on your best judgment, especially since our current choice of antifungal agents is relatively benign. Choices include berberine, curcumin, and dilute food-sourced essential oils such as that from oregano, clove, or cinnamon bark. (Essential oils should never be consumed undiluted as they are caustic and will burn your mouth and GI tract. They must be diluted in a healthy oil such as olive or avocado oil. Full instructions on the use of essential oils and other antifungal agents can be found in my Super Gut book, as well as the website.)

The combined effects of these strategies is profound. It makes practices such as intermittent fasting, reduced meal frequency, or time-restricted eating a snap, as you are not constantly battling appetite. Instead, you are able to coast through your day barely giving a thought to food, eating when the physiologic need arises.