Where There's a Will, There's a Way

22nd March 2019

If you’re struggling to lose weight, or you’ve given something special up for Lent – or if your new year resolve is waning as we head towards Spring, psychologist Laura Little, Development Manager for wellbeing charity CABA, has some helpful advice for combatting those cravings…

Whether it’s cheesecake, cigarettes or Cabernet Sauvignon that’s your Achilles’ heel, you’ll no doubt be familiar with that all-consuming need to eat, smoke or drink your favourite substance NOW.

But the more you try to put the object of your desire out of your mind, the more you can’t stop thinking about it. And so, the stronger your craving becomes.

Instead of trying to stop yourself from thinking about the thing you’re craving, try redirecting your thoughts from one thing to another, by undertaking an activity – mental or physical – that requires your full attention.

Research shows that cravings become weaker within minutes, so you only need to distract yourself for a short amount of time. A study from Plymouth University, for example, revealed that volunteers played computer games for just three minutes before their cravings for food started to diminish. The same distraction techniques work for other types of craving too.

As soon as you start to feel yourself thinking about that bit of chocolate, or reaching for the corkscrew, try phoning a friend, going for a walk or reading a chapter of an absorbing book.

You might like to also try these suggestions…

Replace it:

Try replacing your food cravings with a healthier alternative. If you’re trying to give up sugar, chocolate or crisps, for example, make sure you have an alternative on hand to fill you up throughout the day. Fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, fruit and nut bars or sugar-free popcorn are all healthier (and tasty) alternatives that might help to curb those cravings.

Drink plenty of water:

Hunger is often confused with thirst, so if you suddenly feel the urge for a certain food, drink a large glass of water. After a few minutes your craving might fade away; if not, you may be genuinely hungry, and a piece of fruit might do the trick.

Avoid hunger:

Plan your meals to avoid feeling hungry. Eat small, healthy dishes more regularly to keep your blood sugar levels consistent, so you don’t feel the urge to grab something that will offer a quick fix. 

Choose herbal tea:

Drinking plenty of water, as mentioned above, is a great tactic in fighting cravings, so why not try herbal teas such as peppermint or chamomile? Some herbal teas can also offer a sweet taste which will help if you’re craving sugary treats, and are often a great source of antioxidants as well as being good for your gut health.

Deal with stress:

Stress is known to induce food cravings and can have a negative impact on our eating habits. Unfortunately, this is especially true in women. Meditation, exercise and eating well are all known to help reduce the effects of overwork and anxiety, so do look into strategies for managing your stress levels.

Find Your Local