How to Conquer Cravings


Have you ever had the thought, “I’d be able to lose weight if I didn’t get such nagging cravings?” Or, “I could stick to my diet if I just developed the willpower to resist chocolate?”


On the road to better health, more energy, a slimmer and firmer figure, the greatest obstacle we face is our ability to control cravings. After all, you can’t eat McDonald’s every day for 5 years then suddenly expect to drive by those neon yellow arches without some sort of emotional torment. No more than you could eat ice cream after every dinner for 10 years and then comfortably suddenly sit on the couch with…well nothing. Over the years our bad habits become deep, well- worn grooves in our subconscious, and as such, come the day when we decide it’s time to change our ways to a healthier lifestyle, these grooves become difficult to ignore. What tact do you take when the cravings come knocking? The following are a few easy tips to help you conquer your cravings.

Indulge… Slightly

Have you ever heard the saying, “We always want what we cannot have?” It applies many things in our lives, including foods and drinks. If you forbid yourself entirely, the food will become even more attractive to you. Much like Nicorette gum, try to ween your way off by indulging… slightly. If you are craving chocolate, perhaps buy a small ‘Freddo Frog’ and call it a day. The trick is to practise restraint, not deprivation. Those who practise deprivation altogether are more likely to eventually give in and chow down a whole block of chocolate.

French women don’t get fat, but they do eat bread, pastries and desserts, drink wine, and regularly enjoy three-course meals. In her best selling book, Mireille Guiliano unlocks the simple secrets of this ‘French paradox’ – how to enjoy food and stay slim and healthy. While the book covers countless simple methods the French use to stay slim, she does touch on the subject of indulging… slightly. For example, French women tend to order dessert, then eat only one or two mouthfuls, just enough to get the taste in their mouth and then leave the rest.

Accept Your Cravings

A recent US study tempted people with cookies for 2 whole days straight. They concluded that those who resisted the temptation best used an, ‘acceptance based strategy’. In other words, they acknowledged the craving was there, accepted it for what it was and then chose not to act on it. Those who worked on a denial based system tended to give in far more easily. So next time you are reaching for a bottle of water but hear the coca-cola calling your name, accept that you want it, then decide not to act on it.

Cheat… Once A Week

If you choose not to go with the ween- yourself-off-system (such as a Freddo Frog every couple of days) you may find it easier to resist your temptation all week knowing, come Sunday, you will get to indulge… guilt free. One day of a little junk food, soft drink, pastry etc, won’t undo 6 days of nutritional discipline. You can enjoy a junk food meal once a week knowing that you have behaved all week. The amazing thing about this system is that after a while, you won’t have the cravings for bad food come Sunday anymore. You will become someone who eats and drinks well all the time because you actually like it.

Focus On Your Food

Do you tend to eat in front of the couch? While you are working at your desk? Do you eat breakfast on the go? Remember the old days when we sat at a table for every meal? Having cravings is one thing, indulging and then feasting and feasting and feasting on them is another? Studies show that people who are distracted while they eat will eat more… far more. If you are going to have something you really love, put your distractions aside, stop everything and focus on every… single… mouthful. Don’t let a second go by where you don’t take in the delightful experience. Let the apple pie roll around your tongue and sit there for some time before you swallow. Then do the same with every mouthful. This is how you will feel satisfied far sooner and enjoy moderately.

Fantasise On Something Else

An Australian study on cravings concluded that our short-term memory has very limited storage. So if you’re trying to get your work done but are constantly being hounded by cravings for hot chips, it’s time to introduce a non-food fantasy from your long-term memory bank. Just like your Spotify playlist, cue up your fantasy about your Christmas holiday plans to Fiji, or start visualizing yourself tearing up the competition at next year’s GKR Karate World Cup. Your short-term memory literally can’t think about hot chips and reverse punches at the same time. Pushing your fantasies into your short-term memory will keep the food cravings out.

By Catherine Dunning

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