9 Clever Ways To Conquer Food Cravings
We all have lustful treats calling our name. It could be mint chocolate ice cream after dinner or Monday morning donuts.
Whatever temptation is hijacking your best intentions, one thing is certain…when you’re staring down a frosted cupcake—without a plan—the odds are stacked against you! In fact, on the Top 15 Reasons Why Diets Fail “Resisting Cravings” is number six.
So the next time you’re standing toe-to-toe with double-chocolate brownies try one of these 9 ways to outsmart your cravings.
Before we jump in, let me say….
You should add one (or all) of these tips to your craving-crushing arsenal. But often, there are underlying reasons you go on an all-out chocolate manhunt.
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1. Fire Up Your Favorite App!
We’re all looking to limit screen time, but you have my permission to play Candy Crush, Crossy Roads, or Trivia Crack. Why? Because studies show playing games, like Tetris, for three minutes is enough to dampen even the strongest cravings.
According to Professor Jackie Andrade, “Playing Tetris decreased craving strength for drugs, food, and activities from 70% to 56%.”
So when the urge for something sweet hits you, take a few minutes and knock out the next level!
If you’d like to learn more about how to beat cravings, read my article on SHAPE, “How to Get Over Cravings, According to a Weight-Loss Expert.”
2. Why Slay The Dragon When You Can Avoid It?
You don’t get bonus points for using heroic willpower, so why not avoid the temptation altogether? An easy way to stop snacking on cookies is to not have any around. Clear your house, car, the desk drawer, or wherever the secret stash is.
It sounds simple enough, right? But how many times have you found yourself scraping the bottom of the bag simply because it’s in front of you?
Will you change your environment or let it change you?
3. Take A 15-Minute Walk
“Don’t give in. Just take a walk.” How many times have you heard that? I’m guessing thousands! But, how many times have you tried? Or a better question is, Why haven’t you?
Maybe because it sounds like more run-of-the-mill advice you read on every site and magazine?
I believe that to really buy into a strategy it’s important to know it’s not another throwaway tip, but one backed in science.
So here’s why you should tie your laces when temptation comes knocking.
In a 2009 study, Researchers set out to see how a group of “regular chocolate eaters” would respond to their cravings after abstaining from their favorite treat. (Sounds cruel, doesn’t it? Wait, it gets worse!)
After a three-day chocolate fast, participants were divided into two groups.
- Group 1 would hop on a treadmill for 15 minutes before being dropped into the clutches of temptation.
- Group 2 wouldn’t walk, instead, they would rely solely on willpower.
Then, researchers gave both groups a test—one specifically designed to raise stress levels. And, when the time was right, gave them chocolate bars to unwrap and drool over.
Which group came out on top?
You got it! The study found those that walked for 15 minutes—not only had lower blood pressure—but were far less likely to experience cravings.
So the next time thoughts of sugary snacks occupy your mind, grab your shoes, your dog (if you don’t have one, borrow your neighbor’s), and hit the sidewalk!
4. Fight Cravings With Mother Nature
I’ve worked with many clients that loved finishing dinner with a bowl of ice cream. And after years of the dinner + ice cream combo, their bodies naturally expected that reward. So what happened when they decided to stop? The cravings fought back with all they had and believe me when I say, they are unforgiving!
If you’re in that spot, what would you do?
- White knuckle your way through using raw willpower, which I don’t recommend, or
- Use a replacement food.
Using a natural sweet is an amazingly effective way to ease into the transition. So the next time you’re looking to satisfy sugar cravings, grab an apple, strawberry, or banana.
Tip: The best transition foods are those that mimic what you’re actually craving.
Let’s take ice cream for example. It’s cold, creamy and smooth, and maybe it’s strawberry flavored. Now ask, What’s another food that has those same properties?
One answer could be yogurt. It’s also cold, creamy and smooth, and why not add real strawberries?
5. Surf The Urge
Here’s a brutal truth. Cravings get stronger and stronger the longer you resist. They build to a point where you feel they’ll crush you under their weight, and that point is when most people give in.
But we’re thinking about cravings all wrong.
True. Cravings are intense and feel like they’ll crush you, but cravings are like waves.
Here’s what I mean. They start small and build in intensity until they hit their peak. But then, like all waves, they fall and crash on the shore.
The problem is most people give in at the first sign of discomfort and never let the craving pass. Why? Because they feel like it will never end.
So how long do cravings last?
Psychologist Alan Marlatt shows us that urges typically last twenty to thirty minutes but then go away. The key to beating your craving is to experience it and ride it out, just like riding a wave in the ocean. It will disappear—if you let it!
I have two challenges for you:
- Next time you experience a craving set a timer and note when the craving hits its peak AND when it leaves. You can do this!
- Read “How To Be Comfortable With Discomfort” and learn what I feel are the four most important words in mastering change.
6. Don’t Skip Meals
“I make THE best decisions when I’m hungry!” – Said no one ever.
Now, I realize fasting is all the rage right now, so let me explain.
I have worked with so many clients that skip breakfast, blow right through lunch, not eat a single snack all day and wonder why they can’t control themselves at night! The fix is simple…Just eat!
That’s right, I’m telling everyone eat! If your diet plan is having you skip meals, you need a new one.
And the biggest benefit of eating regular meals is that you’ll make good, sound decisions. You know what happens when you go to the grocery store hungry, don’t make the same mistake with your meal plan.
One of the best ways to sneak past your cravings is to not wake them up in the first place!
7. Ask Why You’re Craving This Food
When most people fall for a craving they ask, “How do I get over this?” When the question they should be asking is, “Why am I craving this food in the first place?”
Most cravings don’t start with food, they start with an emotion.
- Do you crave chocolate when you’re bored?
- Order pizza when stressed?
- Does Taco Bell sound a-mazing when you need to take your mind off the situation?
If you want to stop cravings, address the problem, not the symptoms. When you do, you loosen the power cravings have over you.
Of course, not every craving has an emotional origin, luckily there’s a simple way to find out! Click here to read “The Broccoli Test: How to Stop Emotional Eating.”
8. Plan A Time To Indulge, Seriously!
There’s a big misconception about eating healthy, and it’s you have to cut every indulgence. No more weekend barbecues, no more enjoying a cold one at the pool, and definitely no cake—that must go!
Does that sound like a world you want to live in? Not only is that not fun, it’s also not sustainable. Do you want to go for 5 years without cake? No way!
The goal is to be fit and happy, not fit and miserable.
You should 100% be able to eat a special treat when you want to. But notice I used the word “special.” Even though you should have an indulgence, you want to avoid over-indulging.
Should I eat cheesecake tonight? A simple way to know is to run that question through the two-week test: Will I remember this in two weeks?
If it’s a Yes, then go for it! If not, wait for something memorable. Besides, will you really remember that dry donut tomorrow, let alone two weeks from now?
9. Use Accountability
I think we can all agree that the strategies above work. But let’s get real. How many will you put into practice today? And, what good is information without action?
Here’s the deal.
Right now, you’re thinking rationally and feel confident you’ll conquer the next craving that comes your way. But…when it comes, it will be tough. In fact, it’s brutal!
And that’s when your irrational mind takes over. It will say things like,
…No one is watching.
…This is the last time. Or,
…I’ll start tomorrow.
That’s why studies name a lack of accountability as a major hurdle to weight loss.
But, how different would that be if you had accountability? If there were someone there?
Daily accountability and support are how we get the results we do. So if you’re looking to put an end to cravings, why not join today? We’ll be there with you each and every day—taking information and turning it into action!