How to Outsmart your Cravings

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If you’re a sucker for cravings of sugary or processed foods, you’re not alone. If it was easy to resist the deliciously naughty options out there, everyone would probably be in great shape and we most likely wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic going on.

These days, we have influences coming from all around us, from the media to our social network. Whilst a lot of these influences can be a good thing, unfortunately there are also many which are less-than-ideal. I’ve talked before about decision fatigue on this blog and I’ll touch on some of the things associated with it throughout this post.

Because I’m nice, I’ve put together a 10-point strategy for outsmarting those cravings. So without further ado…

  1. Set some ground rules:

    Ambiguity is change’s nemesis. Think about it; “I will consume less added sugar.” vs. “I will consume no sugar at all/Monday-Thursday/other specific days.”

    With the former, it allows opportunities for us to make excuses for ourselves, e.g. “Well I’ve been super good today, so I probably deserve some added sugar.” *says everyday at 4pm before purchasing now-daily bar of Dairy Milk*.

    The latter, on the other hand, simply doesn’t allow such excuses to me made – experts in goal setting don’t bang on about specificity for no good reason.

  2. Plan & prep for super success:

    How many times have you decided to order a Dominos, when you’ve got a tupperware box containing a nutritious & delicious, pre-made dinner that you put time and effort into, ready and waiting for you in the fridge? I’m guessing not many.

    Planning meals in advance not only sets the tone for a healthier week, but it also gets you excited for the benefits of healthy food. It provides you with fresh motivation and leaves you feeling positive & confident about the week ahead.

    Going into a new week unplanned on the other hand can leave you feeling nervous and doubtful, which can result in emotional eating and last minute convenience foods, yuk!

  3. Tweak your environment to be cravings-unfriendly:

    You’ve probably heard this one a thousand times and that’s because it’s true: set yourself up for winning!

    If your kitchen is filled with foods that you shouldn’t be eating all the time then, chances are, you will be eating them all the time. However if it’s not there, you can’t eat it – it’s that simple. This isn’t going get rid of your cravings straight away, but it will certainly make it harder for you to give into those cravings.

    Cravings, like many things, are quite simple to tame; the less you feed them, the weaker they become. Notice I said simple, not necessarily easy. So before you start becoming a self-hater for not conquering your demons in 5 minutes, please read on…

  4. Have a heart-to-heart with the people around you:

    Social influence is a massive factor in the choices we make. It’s super hard to say no to a slice of birthday cake, being offered to you by the beaming birthday haver, or to decline the Jaffa Cakes, as they make their daily rounds around the office. Sometimes you will even be mocked for trying to live a healthier life!

    So if there’s areas of your environment that you can’t tweak, then speak to the people that are around you, let them know that making these changes are important to you – if they are nice/an adult, they will gladly accept and should support you, i.e. not send the Jaffa Cakes to your desk. Just remember to be specific with them about what you need from them, they’re not psychic and a lot of the time these things just aren’t that obvious to a people.

  5. Protein does more than help us achieve a sexy figure, (although that is one damn fine benefit):

    Protein does a whole host of wonders for us, but the parts I want to focus on here are the “feeling-fuller-for-longer” & “high-thermogenises” aspects.

    Put simply, the body uses a lot of energy to digest protein, which means the kcal you obtain from said protein are not as much as for carbs or fat. As anyone who reads my blog will know by now, energy out > energy in = fat loss, (that’s a gross oversimplification, but for the sake of this post, it will do – for more info read this post).

    The part about it making you feel fuller for longer, I don’t think I need to explain. It actually has this quality in common with fat, which I’ll discuss next…

  6. It’s not the fat that makes you fat:

    Ok, so I’m not going to dive into the whole bad fat vs good fat thing (but trans fats definitely suck). Basically, too much of anything is probably eventually going to make you fat. This is especially true for foods with a high caloric density.

    Fat = 9kcal per gram, whereas protein and fat = 4kcal per gram. I’ll leave that one there.

    This point is just to emphasise the slow digestion of fat, which, like protein, leaves you feeling fuller for longer. It can also help dampen sugary cravings, yay!

  7. Veggies FTW:

    You can eat a lot of vegetables without obtaining that many calories, whilst definitely obtaining lots of nutrients. Eat loads of veg at each meal and it’s a win-win. Feel satisfied, gain important nutrients and feel less of an urge to snack after.

  8. Be carb-smart, eat the right amount for you:

    Everyone is different. You might be someone who thrives on a high carb diet, or maybe you are much better off with a lower carb, higher fat diet? The key here is trial and error.

    As long as you keep the protein high and eat loads of veggies, the rest can be catered to your specific needs. Just ask yourself Precision Nutrition’s favourite question, “How’s that working for ya?” and make an outcome-based decision from the answer.

  9. Be creative, not restrictive:

    Healthy eating does not need to be boring, nor does it need to be restrictive. So get yourself some tasty seasoning, herbs and spices, get creative and make flavour sensations, all without adding so much as an extra kcal to your meal!

    On the other side of this point, if you really love a certain food, don’t tell yourself, “I can NEVER eat this.” because otherwise there’s a real chance you could end up eating 5x the amount you would normally consume, feel bad, lose motivation and give up. Treats are fine, as long as they’re treats. It also helps massively to plan them, which brings me onto my next and last point.

  10. Plan to fail, because you’re only human:

    Don’t set yourself the standard of 100% compliance. That way of thinking leaves no room for life’s mistakes, but a lot of room for error.

    Decide on a time when you will eat your treat and then do so without feeling guilty. Heck, enjoy it – you deserve it!

    The most important thing to take away here is that we all make mistakes. Whilst you can’t use them as excuses not to progress, you also can’t just berate yourself every time you slip up. Be kind to yourself, be patient with yourself and learn from your mistakes.

Have you had any battles with cravings? Leave a comment and share your story.

Thanks for reading you beautiful people, until next time!


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