How to deal with food cravings

By Melinda Braithwaite, Nutritionist and Dietitian

Do you find that you have been eating healthy all day, but by mid-afternoon or evening you are craving foods such as chocolate, cake, biscuits or chips. With some easy tips you can learn to understand and better manage your cravings.


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.


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.


Do you find yourself craving sugar around 3-4pm? These 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.


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.


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.


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.

You can find more articles like this in our Autumn 2016 issue e-magazine!
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