6 tips to help beat food cravings

Do you find yourself craving cake or biscuits at 3pm in the afternoon? Do you crave chocolate or lollies after dinner? Are you reaching for the chips while watching TV or working on the computer? Do you notice that you are often snacking and eating even when you’re not hungry?

Our dietitian Melinda has come up with 6 ways to learn to understand and better manage your food cravings.

1) Ensure a balanced food intake – How many times have you gone on a diet and craved those ‘forbidden’ foods? When we follow restrictive diets we set ourselves up to feel both physically and emotionally deprived. We enter into a vicious cycle where we rebel against the diet rules and overeat. We feel guilty for overeating, which causes us to crave more comfort food. Instead of restrictive diets focus on primarily eating whole foods including lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, wholegrains, legumes, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds and dairy with small amounts of food eaten purely for pleasure.

2) Eat regular meals – Rushed in the morning and missed breakfast? Do you often get caught up at work and before you know it have skipped lunch? Skipping meals can lead to us becoming over hungry. When we get to the point of extreme hunger we often grab convenient high fat and high sugar food.  Taking the time to plan your meals the night before can help to ensure that you are eating regular, nutritious meals.

3) Include a healthy carbohydrate source at lunch – Do you find yourself craving lollies, chocolate, biscuits or cake around 3-4pm? These sweet cravings may be due to a drop in your blood sugar levels. As your blood sugar levels drop your body will often crave a sugary treat to give you a quick hit of energy.  To avoid the afternoon munchies why not try adding a low glycaemic index carbohydrate into your lunch such as quinoa, buckwheat, barley, pearl cous cous, wild rice or sweet potato.

4) Distract yourself – When a craving hits ask yourself ‘Am I hungry?’ If the answer is no distract yourself by going for a walk, calling a friend or playing with the children or family pet. Cravings are generally short lived and with distraction will pass.

5) Nurture yourself – Do you crave and seek out comfort food when you are feeling  tired, depressed, stressed or anxious? When you are feeling like this take some time out and nurture yourself by having a facial, booking a massage, having a relaxing bath with aromatherapy oils, giving yourself a manicure or pedicure or relaxing outside with a good book.

6) Start a cravings journal – If you are having frequent food cravings a journal can be a great way to identify what may be causing the cravings. With each craving record the time of day the craving occurs, what you are craving, what you are doing and any emotions that you are feeling. Also, note down how you dealt with the craving. Reflect back on the journal and see if you can notice any particular patterns.

What other tips do you use to beat food cravings?

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