We’ve all experienced those longings for something sweet, salty, greasy, or just plain bad for us. Cravings are very common and if not watched you may find yourself on the road to creating a bad habit.

So, what exactly is a craving and how can we stop them controlling our waistline?

What Are Cravings?

Cravings are a psychological hunger that arise for different reasons. Hunger is different from a craving as hunger is controlled by the stomach; where as a craving is controlled by the brain. These desires can be brought on by emotions, hormones, alcohol, memories, stress, and physical needs such as dehydration. Lack of sleep and low blood sugar levels can also impact on such cravings.

In order to identify if what you’re experiencing is a craving, think about what you ate that day. Did you have an adequate amount of protein? Did you eat regularly? Have you drunk enough water? If the answer to these questions is yes, you are experiencing a craving and are not physically hungry.

5 Ways to Manage Cravings

1. Distract Yourself. Cravings last for 17 minutes approx. If you can busy yourself for that length of time you will find the intensity of the craving will have lessened significantly or disappeared completely.

2. Learn how to de-stress without using food. Everyone will have different methods to help lower their stress levels. Some people like to talk it out, others prefer exercise, some like to meditate. Whatever tactic you choose ensure food or alcohol is not included. It may not be easy at first as you are trying to change your coping mechanisms, but persevere and the results will be life enhancing.

3.  Ask yourself is the craving caused by advertising? The power of advertising is not to be underestimated. If you see an advertisement for fast food and suddenly want a takeaway, is that coincidence? Remind yourself you were not physically hungry before seeing the advertisement and this urge will pass.

4. Cut back on caffeine. Caffeine can cause sugar cravings and disrupt our sleep. If we are tired we will be hungrier, couple that with sugar cravings and it’s a recipe for munching on snacks that we don’t need. Replace caffeine with more water.

5. Keep a food diary. By keeping a record of what you eat, you will be able to make links as to why you are craving a particular food on a certain day for example. Knowledge is power and as Dr. Larocque states, once we are aware of a trigger and accept it, we can then change it.

There you have it – 5 ways to mange cravings. If you have any queries about the Motivation Weight Management programme please contact your local clinic.

Blog Post by Michael O'Brien