Decode your food cravings

Food cravings – those intense desires to eat a particular food, strong enough that you may go off your healthy eating plan and even out of your way to get it – are complex desires that most people experience at one time or another.

The meaning behind a craving

Does a craving mean your diet lacks a particular nutrient in the food you’re longing for, such as the iron in red meat? Researchers don’t yet know the answer to that. “But we do know there are strong psychological components to food cravings,” says clinical psychologist, Susan Head. “A craving can mean you’re being too restrictive (you haven’t eaten a certain food or foods in a long time) and that it might be a good idea to start planning on eating more foods you enjoy.”

For example, if you crave chocolate, include small portions of chocolate into your food plan. Ignoring the craving may increase its intensity.

Curbing your cravings and keeping on your diet

You don’t have to deny what you crave – just control it. Try these top diet friendly tactics that can easily fit into your eating plan, even at home:

  • Acknowledge it
    Identify the craving, avoid self-judgements and remain calm.
  • Fake it
    Find an acceptable alternative to avoid over-indulging in your diet, like a lower-kilojoule variety of the item you’re craving. If you’ve got a hankering for some chocolate, opt for low-fat chocolate ice cream instead.
  • Feed the food craving
    Find a way to include a moderate portion size of the food that you crave (order a small serving, share it with a friend) and be sure to track it.
  • Dig deeper
    If your food cravings linger, dig deeper to get at the root of them. Have you been too restrictive in your diet? If you suspect so, plan it differently, including more variety and more foods you enjoy.

Emotional triggers

Of course, cravings can also be emotional or situational or from pregnancy.  According to Head, what you crave may be triggered by negative (or positive) feelings, which “often make people crave certain foods, since food tends to be associated with pleasure.”

Is there something going on in your life that’s making you anxious, angry or stressed? If that’s the case, face the issue head on. For example, if you’re worried about an upcoming meeting at work, do your best to prepare for it. By being proactive and making yourself aware of why you may be craving a certain food, your desire for it may disappear.

This article was originally written for Kidspot.



  1. Amanda Carr March 15, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    I don’t know many people who don’t crave certain foods or chocolate, sweets I know I do I’m not sure why but I tend to go for eating the craving which is usually something sweet if I have anything in the house otherwise I have to go without.

  2. Vikki Sainsbury March 8, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    I’ve actually become really bad with cravings lately 🙁 especially around that time of the month! At night just before bed I find myself walking around looking for something sweet to eat, worst time to eat it haha. If I don’t have it in the house I can’t eat it!!

  3. Hollie March 8, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    I believe that life is too short to not eat what you love! I also son’t believe in diets, I believe in lifelong good health and that involves treat foods of course, with mindfulness around the fact that they are ‘sometimes’ foods’.

  4. Kasia Irvine March 8, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Having just started a diet, this is some good advice, re adding a little bit of what you crave into it. I have been trying so hard to quit sugar, feels like it’s in just about everything! So I have been allowing myself to have one small sugary treat per day – so far I am mostly sticking to my diet/excersise plan 🙂

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