How to Conquer Your Cravings

When discussing our own personal food cravings in the InstructorLive office there was a complete range: from pasta to chocolate and there was even a mention of a severe cheese and biscuit craving! Scientific research has suggested that we may have a bit of an excuse for our food cravings – phew! According to Brian Wansink Ph.D., author of Mindless Eating, cravings are most likely embedded deep in our DNA; when we indulge a craving the body releases a surge of feel-good brain chemicals called opiates. This helps to explain why there is seemingly no limit to how many Maltesers we can eat in one sitting – it’s making us feel too good to stop!
However, all is not lost for you crisp cravers and the like. You are not powerless over your urges and there are ways to keep them under control, without completely denying them. We’ve found out how!
Take Small Steps
If you are craving something on a daily basis then taking small steps is the key. Keep a tally and record how long you have been without the food you want to cut down on. If you do four days without chocolate, make sure that you do five days next time.
Consider your mood
If you are feeling sad, lonely or depressed often it’s the food you turn to first to offer you comfort. Bad moods can often fuel a craving as you imagine that by eating a chocolate bar, it will make you feel better – and let’s be honest, it often does! Carbohydrates: sweet or starchy foods, increase the secretion of the brain chemical serotonin. Even when you’re celebrating something it’s easy to feel compelled to reward yourself with food. It’s celebrating things like a work promotion, an engagement or a birthday that makes us happy and in turn hungry!
What can you do? If you know you are susceptible to running to the takeaway down the road when you’re feeling anxious, stressed or upset there are things you can do! At these emotional times, seek consolidation in other ways instead of emotional overeating. Imagine you’re sat on a psychologist’s sofa and hear them saying, ‘What is it that you really need?’ A comforting conversation with a co-worker, a walk, or a relaxing massage may just do the trick! If reassuring ‘comfort foods’ is your downfall, find some that are healthy but still satisfying – a granola bar, a vegetarian casserole, a big salad with chicken for example.
Make sure you’re eating a BALANCED diet
Yes yes, that’s all we ever talk about we know but it is so important when it comes to cravings. When you eat meals that are lacking in one kind of food, you may be more likely to crave it later.
When you are eating a healthy diet that is varied and balanced, you will feel much better. You will have more energy and better concentration. Boring and monotonous meals every day practically welcome our cravings into our lives with open arms.
Too often we will skip breakfast or forget about lunch, only to feel a craving strike later in the day. Think ahead and plan a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner that consists of carbohydrates, protein, and good fats.

Conquer mid-afternoon cravings
3-6 pm in the afternoon is when most frequently the cravings hit. This is the time when our blood glucose drops, making us sluggish and in need of a lift. It is when there is a cue – a fast food poster or the smell of a bakery that a doughnut related (or similar) disaster occurs.
By making good food choices previous to the mid-afternoon crash this will help it become more manageable. If you’re already feeling full and satisfied after your lunch, for example, these cravings may not even occur. Have healthy snacks on your desk after lunch. For example, have a handful of berries for when the sugar dip kicks or some nuts to help with that ‘full’ feeling.
Plan Ahead
Social situations like parties can trigger cravings even when you’re not hungry. You can still indulge when you go to events, just don’t go crazy. (Allow yourself a few Doritos rather than polishing off the whole bag – clearly speaking from experience with this one!) The key to doing this is to think ahead about what temptations may await you and make a pact with yourself to only have a couple of bites. Preparation is key!
Distract yourself
When you’re craving something boredom is often the problem, so try and distract yourself. Go for a walk or call a friend you’ve been meaning to speak to for a while. You will forget all about craving!
Drink lots of water
Another InstructorLive blog favorite – water! By drinking plenty of water throughout the day this will make you less hungry, fill you up and give you plenty of energy –  all things you may rely on your food addiction for.
These tips are designed to help you conquer those cravings but the hard work is most definitely in your hands.