Get Control Of Cravings

by tinareale on February 15, 2012

After yesterday’s love fest, how about we get things back on track with a health and wellness type post? That’s what I feel like doing! I bet a few of you out there hope to get your own personal healthy habits back on track, too. While I didn’t partake in the chocolates, candies, and decadent desserts associated with Valentine’s Day, I 100% understand those of you that did. I have my share of occasions that involve such treats. I may have a bit of a sweet tooth. And by may, I really mean undeniably.



I don’t believe in denying that part of myself. However, I also know that I can’t give into cravings every single time they spark. Then, I would end up having Dairy Queen blizzards or cake with gobs of frosting on a daily basis. Not exactly quality fuel for all that marathon training.

I know from experience that my cravings seem strongest after a little indulgence. So since we all had chocolate on the brain yesterday, I figured today would be the perfect opportunity to share some of my personal tactics to overcoming cravings. Because at times you do just have to say “NO”.

nutella brownies-1

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Is it genuine hunger? When I have some sort of craving, I first determine if it stems from genuine hunger. I believe in fueling our bodies and sometimes our cravings signal a need for fuel. I ask myself the following:

  • When did I last eat? 30 minutes ago or 3 hours ago?
  • What was the size of my meal? How long does a similar meal tend to hold me over?
  • Have I been more active today? Do I need more fuel for anything?
  • Am I feeling any emotions that could trigger this craving? Tired? Stressed? Bored? Angry? Sad?
  • Does an apple sound good? << The “apple trick” claims that if a healthy food item sounds just as appealing as a bowl of ice cream, then you’re likely truly hungry.

If it turns out that I’m due to eat something, then I do. I just shoot to make a healthier choice.


If I realize I’m simply craving to crave, then I go to my plan of attack. Ninja

My Go-To Methods To Stop Cravngs

  • Remove the trigger. It seems so obvious, but it can be the hardest to do. Remove yourself from whatever is triggering the craving or urge to eat when not hungry. Leave the kitchen. Get off Pinterest. Turn off the Food Network’s Cupcake Marathon.
  • Drink water. Dehydration can mask itself as hunger, so drink up!
  • Chew gum. A lot of times my mouth just wants something to do…so gum for the win!
  • Clean. I strive to keep my hands busy and cleaning is the perfect way for me to do that.
  • Work. I love my work, so I can quickly get lost in the vortex of emails and workout ideas to help distract me from the vortex of sugar.
  • Journal. A lot of my cravings come from things like stress or fatigue. Taking a moment to reflect on the cause of my cravings through writing out my thoughts will help flush them away more often than not.
  • Food journal. I don’t meticulously track my meals anymore, but I know in the past having to report handful after handful of cereal I was eating out of boredom would make me think twice.
  • Get a small portion. If I’m really unable to let the craving go and nothing else will satisfy me, I choose to have a reasonable portion. I would much rather have and enjoy one cookie from the batch I baked for a party than an entire dozen from the store because I couldn’t get the cookies off my mind. Sometimes you have to say “NO” to nourish your body well…but sometimes you should say yes. In a mindful, balanced way. Then, enjoy each bite. Guilt free.

Cravings. No big deal. You got this!

What things trigger cravings the most for you? How do you combat cravings?

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1 Lauren @ What Lauren Likes February 15, 2012 at 6:43 am

Great post! I need to try that apple trick! Haha :D

2 Lauren February 15, 2012 at 6:47 am

Great advice as always my dear!

3 Khushboo February 15, 2012 at 7:10 am

I like the advice about the apple- very true! Also another tip I would give is to Google the craving..sometimes it’s only due to a deficiency from other nutrients. For example, chocolate cravings sometimes stem from a lack of magnesium and therefore eating foods like almonds should help! Also finding alternatives works for me too! I have a sweet tooth but that can (most of the time) be sorted out with some yogurt and fruit!

4 Katie @ Raisins&Apples February 15, 2012 at 7:20 am

Instead of removing the trigger, I usually remove myself by getting out of the house or the classroom. There’s nothing like fresh air to brighten my mood!

5 Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! February 15, 2012 at 7:32 am

Wow, this was almost perfectly timed – last night I found myself with a serious sugar craving, to the point where I had to talk to myself (out loud) in order to walk out of the grocery without the pastry that smelled so good. I went with some fresh grapes instead, knowing it was more of an emotional craving than anything.
I definitely need reminders like these, all the time – thanks for posting :-)

6 Jess February 15, 2012 at 7:32 am

Ohh Tina, you are in my head sometimes, I swear. This post hit home for me big-time today. I totally agree with your tactics for warding off cravings and figuring out how to be a mindful eater, at least 98% of the time, anyway. For me, cravings end up being strongest when I have PMS – and it hit me last night, great timing, right? All I wanted, oddly enough – was a couple pieces of cheese. Yet, I knew I didn’t *need* the cheese before our special (and healthy) valentine’s meal, I just wanted it. I tried to ward it off during our fruit plate appetizer noshing, but it just wouldn’t quit. I finally decided – a piece of cheese is NOT gonna kill me and this craving is NOT giving up. So guess what I did? I had the darn piece of cheese. And I didn’t fret about it because I hadn’t “planned” on the cheese, I enjoyed it, and then moved on to enjoying the rest of our meal and the company – my super-cute husband. And yes, a piece of cheese may sound like something so silly to fret over, but for me? Cheese is actually a trigger food for me. Once I start, it’s very hard to stop (unless its portion controlled like a laughing cow or baby belle – last night’s cheese was not portion controlled). LOOOONG comment-y way of saying – you’re in my head again ;-)

7 tinareale February 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I think its great that you decided to have a piece of the cheese if it was such a strong craving. And you did it in a reasonable way, then didn’t have to dwell on it.

8 Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) February 15, 2012 at 7:33 am

My mom used ‘the apple trick’ when we were growing up all the time. Except her apple was the premade peanut butter crackers that she always kept in her purse. I remember always complaining of ‘hunger’ when we’d drive by somewhere I wanted to eat, and she’d pull out those blasted pb crackers and say if I was really hungry, they’d do. I rarely ate them :)

9 Heather (Heather's Dish) February 15, 2012 at 7:40 am

first, those shoes are awesome. i can’t wait to start working out again!

second, this post is fantastic…it’s so hard to determine true hunger sometimes, and i think your part about removing the trigger is perfect. especially since i KNOW that cupcake wars is totally the problem anyway :)

10 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table February 15, 2012 at 7:55 am

I second the gum trick – sometimes you just need a “clean” taste in your mouth. Another trick is to do a set of sit-ups or push-ups. It redirects your thoughts and who wants to eat cake and “waste” all those sit-ups?! :)

11 tinareale February 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Love that tip!

12 MizFit February 15, 2012 at 7:59 am

I ADORE how you say remove the trigger.
So simple. So true. So rarely done!!

13 Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama February 15, 2012 at 8:02 am

“Turn off the Food Network cupcake marathon” Bahahaha! That cracked me up. For my husband, it’s Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. All that disgusting food makes him hungry. Gross.

As far as curbing cravings, I’ve found that if I brush my teeth right after a meal, I don’t crave a sweet as much. That’s usually when I really want a sweet treat, right after lunch or dinner.

14 Parita @ myinnershakti February 15, 2012 at 8:14 am

My chocolate cravings kick in big time after dinner (even if I had something chocolatly during the day). The only thing that works for me is to floss and brush earlier versus right before bed. I have never dared to eat chocolate after brushing AND flossing!

15 Jamie @ Don't Forget the Cinnamon February 15, 2012 at 8:16 am

Thanks for the great tips!
If it’s winter, I’ll make myself a cup of tea or grab a clementine and that usually will get control of my craving. In the summer, I’ll serve myself a small bowl of fresh berries!

16 tinareale February 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Love these! I’m a big fan of tea too.

17 Megan February 15, 2012 at 8:27 am

I’m so thankful for people (like you) that remind everyone it’s OKAY to enjoy your favorite foods! I really tell everyone ‘everything in moderation’ but society makes you think otherwise. Not true! Great post!

18 Lori Lynn February 15, 2012 at 8:35 am

Great post. Thanks for sharing! I haven’t heard of the apple trick, but that does sound like something I should try.

19 Mindy - clueless nut February 15, 2012 at 8:38 am

Love the post! I over-indulged yesterday so reading this was perfect timing to suffice for today :-)

20 [email protected] February 15, 2012 at 8:45 am

Great post! So often I find myself eating out of boredom and need the distraction. I love the thing with the apple, as most often than not its apples that I tend to snack on outside of other meals and snacks. Luckily even my cravings are fairly healthy though: dried fruit, muesli, nut butters and dark chocolate, although sitting with a jar of nut butter and a spoon is not good and a habit I’m trying to get out of!

21 thehealthyapron February 15, 2012 at 9:17 am

It’s harder to resist a craving when you’re pregnant (hence I ate 3 cookies and 2 choc. covered strawberries yesterday), but for the most part, if I’m truly hungry I seek healthy foods and if I just have a craving for a little something sweet I try to keep it small.

22 Ericka @ The Sweet Life February 15, 2012 at 9:26 am

I really need to put these into practice in the evenings. I struggle SO much at night…I feel addicted sometimes! I’ll have this list close by when I battle it tonight. Great, practical list!

23 tinareale February 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Night time is the hardest for me too!

24 Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries February 15, 2012 at 9:26 am

i can totally relate to feeling like my cravings are the strongest after a small indulgence! i wish i could just be one of those people that had a teeny bite of an amazing chocolate chip cookie and be done with it. uhh of course i then want the entire thing and then another one after an incredible bite of it! haha. great post!

25 Bodyworks Family Sports Centers February 15, 2012 at 9:31 am

Control your cravings, not the other way around. Brushing your teeth is one way to beat cravings. Also, talk to someone over the phone.

26 Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef February 15, 2012 at 9:33 am

love the apple trick!

27 Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning February 15, 2012 at 9:45 am

These are really good tips, and I’m going to use the apple one!
I use gum a lot. Popping a piece of gum in my mouth is kind of my way of saying “you’re done eating.” I’ll do that or brush my teeth.
And what you said about removing yourself from the situation is a so true. When I find myself continually wandering into the pantry, it would be a good idea to just stay far away from the kitchen!

28 Rebecca @ Miss Magnolia Munches & Moves February 15, 2012 at 9:59 am

I find that a little sugar makes me want a lot of sugar. It’s best for me to stay away completely rather than try to have a small treat.

29 Kara February 15, 2012 at 10:00 am

I don’t know, I eat whatever the hell I want on a daily basis and it’s working out pretty well for me. It’s a novel thought, but if you always eat what you want, it really simplifies “cravings”. :)

30 Christie February 15, 2012 at 10:07 am

Absolutely love this post!
Makes me feel great about my weekly cravings.
Your lifestyle is truly inspirational!!!

31 jobo February 15, 2012 at 10:13 am

SO well put! I could have written this myself too! It is so hard sometimes to delineate between true hunger, boredom and ‘the munchies’ but once you do, that internal battle eases a bit, at least for me. And when it’s truly hunger, you just instinctively know more than in the past. I think drinking water is a huge one, because sometimes it is thirst, and not hunger!

32 Rachel @RunningRachel February 15, 2012 at 10:24 am

Great post with great tips and reminders! Thank you :)

33 Tina February 15, 2012 at 10:50 am

I’m an emotional eater, so mostly feeling stress or being overwhelmed tends to do it for me. It happened yesterday. I let something get to me and ended up eating two pieces of cake. I totally planned on eating one, but ate the second out of stuffing my emotions. I’m pretty good at figuring out when I’m not eating out of true hunger, but still working on stopping it.

34 Cheryl @ eatplayluvblog February 15, 2012 at 11:26 am

I really appreciate this post.

I get the most intense cravings when I am stressed or tired. The combination of both is almost always a recipe for me heading to the kitchen, ready for a bit of a binge. Now, I’m at a point where I can recognize what’s up.

This week, for example, is full of stress: I have assignments due, I’m dealing with my hip injury, and I’m heading to Texas for a week visit to my dad’s place on Saturday. In the past, this might have resulted in a week of full blown binges and feeling like crap. I’m being proactive and doing a bit of what you suggest last–having a small portion–but I’m struggling. I should probably stay away from the scale right now, but it’s too late and I’ve seen it go up a bit. I know logically it’s NOT from the chocolate chips I had last night or the small treats I’ve been proactively having to stop from a full blown binge, but I’m still finding it tough. It’s all a learning process, but hearing that other people have figured out what works for them helps big time!

Sorry for the uber long comment–I’m really glad to have your posts to check out for inspiration when I’m feeling confused, though! Stuffed with Emptiness is bookmarked on my computer!

35 tinareale February 15, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Loved this comment. I relate all too well and I know that you are strong. Keep aware and strive to make the best decisions for your mental, emotional, and physical health day by day and meal by meal. :)

36 Cat @Breakfast to Bed February 15, 2012 at 11:35 am

I brush my teeth. Sounds weird, but you gotta do….

37 Krystina February 15, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Thank you for this! Cravings are killer for me sometimes. I realize that sometimes it’s easier to just have those ‘trigger’ foods out of the house. My boyfriend recently bought Girl Scout cookies, and I ate a few every day just because 1) I knew they tasted awesome and 2) they were there. Now they’re gone, and I don’t really have the desire for more. Out of sight, out of mind!

38 Michele @ nycrunningmama February 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Great post, Tina!!! So true. I often find that I want to snack when I am sitting in front of the TV…I think it’s b/c I’m not doing anything except sitting there, that my hands get antsy and eating is the easiest thing to help that!!! For a while, I made sure to keep all junk food out of the house, but I’ve gotten SO much better with dealing with the cravings that we keep some chocolate, ice cream, and other goodies for those nights after a hard workout when it’s deserved and planned!!

39 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey February 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Good advice! A lot of times if I truy truly can’t get rid of the craving, I’ll try to “healthify” it a little bit. Or I know that I am a chocolate fiend, so I usually have a piece of chocolate after dinner every night to squash those cravings!

40 Felice February 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I use the apple trick with my kids. it works!!

41 Nicole February 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm

great post Tina! When I have a craving I usually (like you said) pay attention to whether I’m not actually hungry and then if I am I’ll eat something. If craving is still really strong, I’ll usually give into a small portion of it!

42 annie February 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Thank you so much for this post, I *really* needed it.

My trigger is almost always indulgence. I feel like I have a handle over my sweet tooth 90% of the time, but that 10% of the time still gets a crazy. The tiniest little bite at 7 a.m. will find me in the kitchen later at midnight with my face in a cake pan with a trail of pastry wrappers behind me (my weakness is anything baked). The only thing that can get me off of that freight train is, quite frankly, a 2 week sugar detox. Everybody says that a little indulgence is okay once in a while, but I am resigned to the fact that it is just one of the few things I can never do lightly.

I am definitely going to try to use your suggestions, especially the list to assess hunger. Unfortunately I adore apples (I have that one good thing going for me!), so I’ll have to think about something else like liver or tripe. :P

43 Tiff February 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Daily blizzards sound amazing, but I totally hear ya. People at my old office thought it was odd i didn’t have cake every time we celebrated a birthday. If I really really really wanted it, or if it were MY birthday, I’d have some. There’s just no need to splurge every single time.

44 Brandi February 15, 2012 at 3:00 pm

I’ve recently began making efforts to get back in shape (a goal I’ve lost sight of since I was in school) and I discovered your blog. I think it’s awesome that you use your story and experiences to encourage others. This post was much needed after the cupcake and heart-shaped doughnut I splurged on yesterday. But after reading this and taking a look at my daily food habits I realized that my splurge yesterday fit more into the category of your ‘eating from habit/traditions’ post. I don’t normally have a problem saying no to sweets and such, so I chalk yesterday’s splurge up the the traditions of Valentine’s Day. Was it necessary? No. But I wanted it and I don’t feel guilty because I know that it’s not a regular issue. Thanks!

45 corey @ learning patience February 15, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Great tips…I always have a HUGE problem drinking enough water.
I read that if your pee is dark yellow you are dehydrated….so now every so often my husband and I check each other by saying…Are you DYP free? It is to check each other to drink plenty of water. (sorry if I just grossed anyone out)

xoxo from Trinidad

46 Lindsay @ FuelMyFamily February 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I go for an apple and water as well. But if that doesnt do it I honestly just give into my cravings. If I don’t, it just grows and grows. I will scavange my house eating tons of healthy foods to try and fill that craving and then end up eating it in the end anyway. SO I have found that if i give in (within reason) then I will be satisfied and the craving is gone.

47 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats February 15, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Haha the apple trick doesn’t work for me because I LOVE apples! I try and think of whether I would eat carrots or something a little more blah. If I wouldn’t eat veggies, then I’m not really hungry.

48 Amanda @RunToTheFinish February 15, 2012 at 4:23 pm

ahh the apple trick it really does help decide if you are hungry!!

i like the idea of cleaning because I know the teeth brushing has never worked for me

49 Tamara February 15, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Lots of great suggestions here!
Really like the reminder to engage your brain when dealing with cravings. I tend to ignore what it’s saying to me and just give in!

50 Alexa @ Simple Eats February 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Cravings are SO hard to resist! Especially if you see someone with a food that sounds/looks good to you, then I usually crave it for days later!

51 Alexis February 15, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Love that apple trick!!! Cravings can be difficult to deny sometimes. If I crave something for longer than a few days then I give in to it :)

52 Maggie February 15, 2012 at 6:50 pm

This is a very timely post for me because my boyfriend made me an abundance of homemade chocolate goodies yesterday and I definitely ate one too many last night! I have avoided them so far today just by reminding myself that I feel so much better when I’m eating healthy and providing my body with the right fuel!

53 STUFT Mama February 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm

All your tips are so great Tina. :) I forget about the drikning water one sometimes. I am so with you on having a major sweet tooth. Distraction has been my key to keeping myself in check. :)

54 CJ February 15, 2012 at 7:54 pm

I’ve been trying to journal when I do mess up and cave in to my cravings – which has helped me to dispel the lies I tell myself about why I deserve my craving (when it’s no based on hunger).

55 Dena @ 40 Fit in the Mitt February 15, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Love the shoes! I can’t wait for Boot Camp. I should have read this post before I gave into my Nutella craving tonight, an apple would have been the right choice.

56 Jodi @ Jodi, Fat or Not February 15, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Removing the trigger is a great one! I don’t depend on “will power” to fight through cravings, I act! Great list :)

57 Dawn (HealthySDLiving) February 16, 2012 at 12:15 am

I definitely try to pay attention to what’s triggering my hunger; if it is indeed a craving, or if I truly am in need of some fuel. I also keep the trigger foods AWAY! ahaha If it’s not there it’s not going to be eaten. End of story,,,decision is made in the grocery store!

58 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More February 19, 2012 at 11:10 pm

LOVE this post! All of these things are things that I often do as well to combat my cravings but it seems like lately I forget how to manage them. I guess all I needed was a little reminder. Thanks! :)

59 Amanda February 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Related to remove the trigger – DEAL with the problem!

I have struggled with emotional binge eating in the past when a tricky decision came up, or I had to do something I didn’t want to. So now, I recognise that it’s not true hunger, suck it up and DO the tough thing, and then I’m done :)

60 [email protected] February 22, 2012 at 12:53 pm

I use these tricks all the time to curb my cravings! The first thing I will do is drink a tall glass of water, since I was little my mom would answer my “I’m hungry” wine with, “drink some water first, then see how you feel”. Usually this helps, but if I still do intensely crave something, I will try to keep busy doing whatever I can around the house or catch up on some work. This takes my mind off of it and allows me to re-evaluate if I am truly hungry for that particular food.

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