Seven Ways to Beat Your Cravings

Lila Bruk is a registered dietician and nutritional consultant in... read more

No matter how diligent you are with your diet, you may still find yourself craving for unhealthy foods. Before you give in to temptation, here are six questions to ask yourself.

emotional cravings

Are You Craving the Food for Emotional Reasons?

Often you crave certain foods when you are in some sort of emotional distress, and often the type of food you crave is related to the emotion you are experiencing. For example, often one craves salty, crunchy snacks (e.g. potato crisps or pretzels) when one is frustrated, irritated or angry. Similarly one may crave for rich, creamy, soft, starchy snacks (e.g. cake or ice cream) when one is depressed or lonely.

What you need to remember in this situation is that the food will not compensate the emotional pain you are feeling.

Deal with your emotions at hand rather than turning to food as a means to block out or avoid the issue.

Are You Actually Thirsty?

prevent cravings

People mistake thirst for hunger. Try drinking a glass of water, wait ten minutes and see if the craving has subsided.

Are You Eating Correctly?

Cravings can be our body’s way of telling us what we need. In order to prevent cravings, you need to make sure that you are getting a healthy, balanced diet with a variety of foods from the five different food groups – dairy products (e.g. milk, yogurt), meat and meat alternatives (e.g. chicken, fish, beef, eggs, legumes), fruits and vegetables, fats and oils (e.g. margarine, sunflower oil, avocados, nuts and seeds) and the breads, cereals and grains group (e.g. bread, rice, pasta, breakfast cereals, potatoes).

Are You Exercising Enough?

regular exercise

Exercise can help to prevent and manage cravings. So, if you find yourself with a craving that you just can’t ignore, go to the gym, or go for a run. You may find that after few minutes of doing something positive for your body, the craving has disappeared.

Can You Distract Yourself?

Sometimes you crave food because you are bored. Maybe you just need to be occupy your mind with something else. Try writing down alternatives to eating. This list could include exercising (see above), phoning a friend, taking a bubble bath, reading a book or a magazine, or even tidying up a particularly messy closet.

Can You Substitute the Craved Food for Another?


Often you can satisfy a craved food with a healthier alternative. For example, gherkins instead of crisps, or low fat frozen yoghurt instead of ice cream.

If Nothing Else Will Do…

Sometimes, however, it is best to just have a little bit of what you are craving rather than avoiding eating it completely and then eventually going on a binge. Often, the first bite and the last bite of a food are the only ones we pay attention to.

Have only a small portion – just enough to satisfy your craving. Focus on the food while you eat it and enjoy it. Don’t let yourself feel guilty, discouraged, weak, or frustrated, because of it. After all we’re all humans, and a little treat now and then does not hurt.