Handling Food Cravings

Oftentimes, people struggle sticking to their nutrition because of food cravings– if you know me well, you know I have a strong addiction to peanut butter and it is the only food I crave. Food cravings are something many of us experience and on average it happens several times a week, and over 80% of the time we cave into the craving. 

Whether you are craving savory fried foods or sweet pastries, you are not alone. However, knowing how to control your food cravings plays a huge role in sustainable, long-term weight loss. Below are things we can do to help with controlling those recurring food cravings:

Abstaining: “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”; eliminate the cues that spark cravings. In my case, if I have peanut butter around the house, I will crave it and most of the time I will end up eating the peanut butter even though I’m not really that hungry. I need to have it completely removed from my sight in order to prevent myself from relying on pure willpower, which can only last for so long. In other cases, people have to remove cues that may trigger the craving. For example, if you crave cookies every time you smell them as they bake, then buy store-bought cookies and store them behind a cabinet so 1) you don’t have to smell them as they bake, thus minimizing that craving trigger and 2) they are not readily available to you or in your line of sight. 

Moderating: On the flip side, there’s moderation. What I have seen is that if some people eliminate the food altogether and deem them as evil, they tend to have a yo-yo effect where they jump back and forth. It becomes an unhealthy on/off relationship and oftentimes, they feel over restricted. If you are good at not over-consuming, try to moderate the amount you’re eating and keep it reasonable. This method works for some but not all; for example, as mentioned above, it does not work with me and peanut butter. Things you can do to help with moderation:

  • Measure out portions you plan to eat during the day/week

  • Limit your portions to reasonable amounts that align with your goals. For example, if your goal is weight loss, then 4 slices of pizza per day is probably not a good idea. 

  • If you follow a macro plan, make sure the food fits in your macros. 

  • Don’t let the food spike the craving. For example, if you crave brownies and you plan to have a brownie per week, make sure it doesn’t spike your sugar cravings! If it does, this is probably not the best method and you will need to adjust your plan accordingly. 

Mindfulness: When you’re feeling a craving, identify it and don’t associate any positive or negative feelings with it. Simply identify it and create a plan from there. For example: 

  • Identify and acknowledge: “I am craving peanut butter.”

Plan: “I am not really hungry, and I have a weight loss goal that I want to stay on track with.” -OR- “The peanut butter is worth it, however I will have 1 tablespoon as it will still fit in my plan.”

Finding a buffer food: A buffer food is something that allows us to satiate a craving that we have as an alternative option to a trigger food. For example, if someone craves ice cream, they may opt for greek yogurt with fruit as their buffer food. This way, their sweet craving is satiated and they can stick with their macro plans. Nutrition coaches are usually pretty familiar with a variety of buffer foods!

If you struggle with maintaining a sustainable nutrition plan, come see us! Schedule a completely free consultation with us to learn more about how our nutrition program can help you match healthy eating habits with your fitness goals while minimizing cravings, come talk to us. We’re just a click away: