how to stop food cravings
  • December 9, 2022

Episode 14: How to stop cravings

Today we are chatting about how to stop food cravings.     Firstly, what are cravings? Cravings refer to a […]

Today we are chatting about how to stop food cravings.

 

 

Firstly, what are cravings?

  • Cravings refer to a really intense desire to eat a specific food.
  • You often will have a specific hunger for that food which won’t be satisfied until you eat it.
  • They are often accompanied by urgency.
  • Often you are not actually physically hungry when you have a cravings

 

 

There are a few reasons why you might have cravings:

    1. You have been restricting this food from your diet. When you restrict certain foods it causes a forbidden fruit effect where it becomes all you can think about eating (even if prior to restricting it you didn’t actually eat it very much)
    2. Undereating – either intentionally (e.g. dieting) or unintentionally. This is your body’s way of taking care of you by getting in more energy. Often these cravings will be for high sugar or high energy foods as these will give you the quickest form of energy.
    3. Low blood sugar levels which can arise if you have gone a few hours without eating. Often this will also cause cravings for high sugar foods to help increase your blood sugar levels. Eating regularly is essential to help minimise the onset of these cravings.
    4. Not balancing your meals/snacks by incorporating all the core food groups across the day. Balancing your meals and snacks helps with more regular energy levels and blood sugar levels as well as reducing risk of cravings.
    5. If you are pregnant. During pregnancy there are a lot of hormonal changes that your body goes through. On top of this nausea can also make you only feel like eating particular foods (e.g. for Kiah this was berries and bread). Cravings will look vastly different person to person.
    6. Emotional eating and self-soothing (we have touched on this already in previous episodes). Often we turn to food as a way to feel better for various emotions (e.g. sadness, loneliness or exhaustion). Because of the endorphins that food can give us, it can play a role in soothing. Although there is nothing wrong with this and it is perfectly valid, if its happening all time and/causing you a lot of distress or discomfort, it’s best if we also have some other emotional coping tools.
    7. Being surrounded by these foods in your environment (e.g. if there is a block of chocolate sitting next to you, would you eat it even of you aren’t hungry). This doesn’t mean it is bad to have food in your immediate environment, but it can influence some mindless eating (not paying attention to our food, how we feel, hunger/fullness, etc.) because its more so just there to stimulate us. Particularly if we are quite bored – for instance sitting at a desk working.
    8. It may be a habit. For instance, you always eat chocolate after dinner. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this, particularly if you enjoy that food and look forward to it – then go ahead. But, if you feel like the craving is really strong and this habit isn’t serving you (e.g. you don’t feel great afterwards) then maybe it’s not a great habit to perpetuate.
    9. There is also some research that being really thirsty can also increase cravings.

 

 

Some tips to help manage cravings:

  1. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat all foods. This is important to take away that restrictive mentality around foods. For instance, if we make it a rule that we aren’t allowed to eat chocolate, it will likely become all that we think about. However, if we give ourselves permission to eat all foods whenever we want, it reduces the magical power around that food.
  2. Make sure you are eating enough in general. This encompasses making sure that you aren’t undereating and avoiding specific food groups and ensuring you are eating regularly.
  3. The 3 3 3 method: eating 3 meals and 3 snacks no more than 3 hours apart. This is a great place to start if you are trying to eat regularly. It helps with reducing binge eating and overeating at meals as well as maintaining balanced blood sugar levels across the day. If you forget to eat regularly, we recommend setting phone alarms/reminders to eat as an external reminder.
  4. Balancing your meals and snacks.
    • For meals, this means including a source of:
      • Protein (meat, fish, tofu, legumes)
      • Carbs (bread, rice, pasta, crackers, potatoes)
      • Fats (avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil)
      • Fruit and/or veg.
    • For snacks, we want to include at least 2 food groups (fruit and veg, dairy and dairy alternatives, protein rich foods and grains/starches). This will help make them more filling.
    • We will be doing an episode on building balanced meals/snacks in the future!
  5. Find strategies other than food for self-soothing that fit your emotional needs. Keeping a food and emotions diary can be a good place to start. Likely you will need different strategies to soothe different emotions and will look different for every person. We have covered this in a few of our earlier episodes linked in the show notes.
  6. Set up your environment to encourage mindful eating and reduce mindful eating. It is impossible to always eat mindfully at every meal ever. However, ideally we want to be mindful and present whilst eating as much as possible. This means slowing down and avoiding distractions (such as work or TV). This provides more satisfactions and gives you the time to notice your hunger/fullness to avoid cravings later on.
  7. Notice if you have any set habits around eating certain foods. For instance, do you always feel like eating particular foods when are in a certain place or doing a particular activity. You don’t necessarily need to do anything about it, but just come at it with curiosity. Only if you feel like these habits aren’t serving you, then it might be worthwhile you think about putting in place a plan to change it.
  8. Make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day. What ‘enough’ water is will be different for everyone but roughly 1.5-2 or 3L of fluid per day is a good general goal. The colour of your urine is a good place to start – ideally looking for straw to clear in colour and not too yellow (quick note that some supplements will also influence your urine colour!). This encompasses all fluids not just water so also things like juice, smoothies, soup and tea/coffee.

 

Remember this is just general advice and everyone will be different!

 

BOOK IN A FREE DISCOVERY CALL WITH OUR DIETITIANS

Related Post

Browse more from the same category

Episode 52: Pelvic Floor Problems and Eating Disorders

Welcome back to another episode of the Imbodi Health Podcast where we’re c

Episode 51: ADHD and Eating Disorders

Today, we’re joined by the wonderful Johanna Badenhorst and will be taking a d

How To Stop Binge Eating – Why It Happens & What To Do

Are you somebody who regularly experiences a ‘loss of control’ around food?