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. Shontelle Fahey April 27, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    I always had the most strange cravings while pregnant and also on my period I always craved chocolate. Everyone has some sort of cravings. Just glad I can manage to control as it could come into a really bad habit otherwise. Great read.

  2. Kym Moore April 1, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    I find I crave food after 8pm. So once the kids are in bed asleep that is when I tend to eat the most junk food. I don’t really know how to limit it. I guess if I had a milky drink that would probably be enough.

  3. Sarah Blair March 26, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    I have been reducing my sugar intake and trying to eat healthier foods, I often crave sausage rolls etc. Im pretty sure it because it’s what my body thinks it wants so I just eat a healthier option and the craving often will go away. When I am stressed I crave sweet things, I need to find a way to curb those cravings, I will be trying these tips!

  4. Kylie March 25, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    I definitely have certain cravings at different times of the month/cycle! I have been trying really hard when the chocolate craving hits to eat mixed nuts instead- they have chocolate raisins in it so I still feel like I’m getting chocolate but also getting all the goodness for the nuts too!

  5. Danielle Hide March 22, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    Those strand food cravings you get and you don’t even need to be pregnant to get them. I find I get them more when im stressed out about something. I think you should eat what you want other wise yiu get resentful but you need to control the amount, that’s where the struggle is for me. its ok to have chocolate have a couple of pieces not the whole block. I think it boils down to a survival thing if you are stressed your body thinks you need the extra energy to get ready for fight or flight but really all we do is sit on the couch doing nothing

  6. 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.

  7. 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!!

  8. 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’.

  9. 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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