Three Ways to Sidestep Food Cravings

Cravings are the Achilles heel of any healthy intentions. For me, cravings usually happen around 3PM or before bed. Typically, they’re worst when I’ve “been really good” all day: smoothie for breakfast, salad with a scoop of tuna for lunch and then… suddenly a handful of chocolate-covered almonds turns into the whole bag. What’s the deal with that?!

As a veteran sucker for cravings, I’m here to share three ways to step right out of that bear trap before it sucks you down into sugar-and-salt purgatory. Am I being dramatic? If you’ve ever mindlessly eaten half a tub of peanut butter while watching Grey’s Anatomy, you know that I’m not exaggerating.

sidestep food cravings

Drink water

I know that it may sound like a weird way to enable an eating disorder, but I promise this one comes from hard science. The first symptoms of thirst actually show up as hunger, so if you’ve eaten a good lunch but you’re just… still…  hungry, make yourself a cup of tea or get a glass of water. If you’re still craving something after you drink it, move on to the next tip.

What are you hungry for?

Really though—more than potato chips or a cookie, what is your hunger masking? I decode my cravings by examining the qualities of the food I can’t stop thinking about. Examples:

Ice cream/peanut butter: sweet, creamy, comforting, makes me feel safe/like a kid again.

Popcorn/potato chips: salty, crunchy, fun to eat, kind of exciting!

Coffee/red wine: grounding, warming, comforting, makes me feel like queen.

Then I ask myself, “How could I get more of those qualities into my life?” Usually, I’m not actually hungry for ice cream—I just want something to make me feel special and safe. By giving myself a real treat, the food craving usually passes.

For example:

  • Taking a bath makes me feel safe and luxurious.
  • Doing something outside my comfort zone is exciting and fun!
  • Stretching, writing, or other me-time activities make me feel grounded, connected, and embodied.

The next time you’re craving something, examine the qualities behind that food and do something to feed your soul. If you’re still hungry, move on to trick #3.

Eat your protein

Sugar cravings come from low blood sugar. While raising your blood sugar (by eating something) might solve the problem short-term, it does nothing to solve the problem in the long term.

To balance your blood sugar and experience less cravings and “hanger,” experiment with getting a little protein in every meal. Protein means nuts, beans, nut butters, meat, eggs, cottage cheese, or even quinoa!

Let me know what happens to your cravings after a few days of getting enough protein! If you want more support for a great price, check out Love Yr Body, Love Yr Self, my online group coaching program for young women.