7 Ways To Torch Food Cravings

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Get a Handle on Cravings

Fresh Donuts


So, you’ve got cravings. Ready for the truth? Cravings are psychological, not physical, so the only way to break a craving is to change your mindset. If you’ve tried calling a friend, going for a run, drinking endless glasses of water, replacing what you really want with a “lighter” version that didn’t cut it, then it might be time for science to step in.

Hunger is real. Cravings, on the other hand, focus on wanting specific foods, which stem from our relationship to that food. Because we are in a constant push-pull with real hunger versus habitual cravings, we have to get clear about what, when and why we crave certain foods.

Whatever you want to blame your cravings on—hormones, that tricky hippocampus, stress, nutritional deficiencies, your job, lack of sleep, depression, bad habits—cravings can be a real deterrent to getting adequate sleep, reaching your optimum health and wellness goals or paving the way for a leaner, healthier you.

If you’ve tried everything and still can’t kick that daily urge for chocolate or an ice cold beer (or three), try one of these seven little tried-and-true tips to get rid of cravings for good.

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1. Ride the Wave

Man Playing Video Games


Our brains put a lot of effort into our desires and when focused on food, it’s hard to think of anything else. Rather than distracting yourself with other activities, simply ride it out. Visualize yourself indulging. Taste it. Smell it. Act as if you’re already eaten it. Still not satisfied? Wait twenty minutes and then move on with your night.

Quick Rx: When a craving hits, move on to another visual task, which has been proven to shift your mind off food.

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2. Ditch the Culprit

Bowl of Fruit


Because it has been proven that sugar is addictive, chances are your food cravings might be in the sweet category. If so, by reducing your exposure to sugar in your daily diet, you will reduce your food cravings overall. Sometimes this all or nothing approach really does work. Remove the culprit and the cravings actually do go away.

Quick Rx: Say “I don’t eat that” instead of “I can’t eat that.” By telling yourself and others that you don’t do something, it’s not even an option and is no longer up for negotiation.

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3. Drink Up

Man Drinking Water


You’ve probably tried the whole “drink a glass of water” trick if you have cravings. But if a nightly cocktail is what you want, then this rule’s for you. For every alcoholic beverage you drink, you must down one glass of water beforehand. Unless you have a bladder the size of a whoopee cushion, then this should limit your overall consumption.

Quick Rx: Make a fist or tighten your muscles. Because we often tense our muscles when we are using willpower, making a fist when tempted with cravings can actually help you resist them.

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4. Stop Snacking

Chicken Bowl


Everywhere you turn, someone tells you to eat every few hours in order to keep your metabolism stoked. If you’ve been eating five times per day for as long as you can remember, it might be time to give your digestive system a break. Studies show that eating three balanced meals is just as beneficial as eating smaller meals throughout the day. Once you eliminate the need to “snack,” you can focus on getting adequate nutrients that don’t leave any room for extra food, i.e., no desserts, midday protein bar or processed snack that won’t fill you up anyway. Try a few days of eating three balanced meals and watch the cravings take a hike.

Quick Rx: Add spices or hot sauce to your entrees, which have been shown to slash cravings. Spices lower the hunger-inducing hormone, ghrelin, and increase the hunger-suppressing hormone, GLP-1.

SEE ALSO: Everything You Need to Know about Your Hormones

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5. Eat that Treat…But Earlier



If you just know that after dinner you’re going to want chocolate and there’s nothing anyone can do about it, then have the chocolate (make it dark), but eat it after lunch so you have time to burn it instead of store it. If you have the chocolate and still want the chocolate after dinner, then you know it’s more of a habit than an actual sweet craving. Which takes us to the next trick.

Quick Rx: Craving something sweet? Take a long whiff of vanilla, which has been shown to slash cravings for the sweet stuff.

SEE ALSO: Guilt-Free Desserts

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6. Shake Up Your Routine

Corey Seager Chewing Gum

Getty Images

While eating was initially intended for survival, the process of dining has become a pleasurable and social experience. We don’t often think about fueling our bodies for daily activities; instead, we focus solely on what we want and then we have the means to make it appear. So, dig a little deeper. What is it that you love about chocolate? A nightly whisky? French fries and a burger? If you perpetually want to eat something because you’re sitting on the couch every night and are bored, then get up, stretch, foam roll, make a fist, meditate, do something with your hands, jump your partner, etc. Changing cravings is about shifting the behavior that goes with them, and that just involves making new habits instead of sitting firmly in your old routines. And if that still won’t work? Then…

Quick Rx: Grab some gum. Just the act of chewing often slashes cravings and will give you super fresh breath in the process. 

SEE ALSO: 10 Tips to Break Through Your Fat Loss Plateau

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7. Tell a White Lie

Burger and French Fries


Studies have shown that if you tell yourself you can have it someday, that will suffice. Just like we promise ourselves that we’re going to become morning exercisers, or finally get your office organized, your brain registers that you will do it and can then use its energy to focus somewhere else.

Quick Rx: Make a pair. Pair the food you want with a healthier option, so you get what you really want with a dose of what you should want. 

SEE ALSO: The 5 Best Slim-Down Diets

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