7 Effective Ways to Beat Cravings

Woman having cravings - how to deal with (primalbreedfit)

Experiencing cravings is the feeling or strong desire for wanting to eat a specific or variety of foods. Most often, cravings cause us to eat foods that are not the healthiest – fatty, sugary and/or salty foods. If your goal is to lose weight and build a body that you love, managing cravings will play a major factor in your success.



Cravings are the brain’s signal to the body that it’s time for a re-uptake in certain chemicals such as serotonin.

Serotonin is the feel-good chemical which is why we are so strongly drawn to these cravings.

When eating these foods that release serotonin in our brain, it provides a short-lived overall good and calm feeling.

These signals are triggered by different causes such as:

  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Lack of sleep/high stress levels
  • Comfort eating/boredom
  • Unresourceful habits

Cravings in the form of overall strong feelings of hunger can also be triggered by a need of nutrients.

For instance, if you have been following a low calorie diet, the body will eventually start giving you signals through cravings, low energy levels, mood swings (hangry) and overall feeling weaker to let you know that it requires extra calories and nutrients to function optimally.

This feeling is quite different than regular cravings.

It’s an ongoing feeling day to day which comes alive after you have been following a low calorie diet for a while and have depleted your body of the stored energy resources(glycogen) and possibly vitamins and minerals as well.


How to manage cravings

mindfulness - how to beat cravings - toronto personal trainer

1. Be mindful of what you put into your body

Before a solution can be created, the first step you must take to overcome cravings is recognize the triggers and situations that apply in your life.

Self-awareness must be present to identify the cause and make the necessary switch required to solve the issue.

Being mindful of every food that you fuel your body with and understanding the benefits or lack of in those foods will instantly make you think twice before eating it.

Next time you’re at the grocery store take a second to read the ingredients list and if there’s one or more ingredients that you cannot properly pronounce then it’s a good chance that your body won’t know what to do with it either.


manage stress to beat cravings - toronto personal training

2. Manage your stress levels

Studies show that foods, particularly hyperpalatable (e.g., high-fat, high sugar) ones, may possess addictive qualities. Stress is an important factor in the development of addiction and in addiction relapse, and may contribute to an increased risk for obesity and other metabolic diseases.

Uncontrollable stress changes eating patterns and the salience and consumption of hyperpalatable foods; over time, this could lead to changes in allostatic load and trigger neurobiological adaptations that promote increasingly compulsively behavior.

This association may be mediated by alterations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and other appetite-related hormones and hypothalamic neuropeptides.

At a neurocircuitry level, chronic stress may affect the mesolimbic dopaminergic system and other brain regions involved in stress/motivation circuits.

Together, these may synergistically potentiate reward sensitivity, food preference, and the wanting and seeking of hyperpalatable foods, as well as induce metabolic changes that promote weight and body fat mass. (1)

Stress is a major factor in making you lean towards bad food choices which lead to a downward spiral of negative consequences such as hormonal imbalances, decreased insulin sensitivity, less self-control and weight gain.

There are many ways to minimize or eliminate stress such as:

  • Set strong self-boundaries and do not break them
  • Meditation, Yoga, Walking or Running
  • Read a book on a topic you love
  • Spend more times outdoors, preferably in nature
  • Minimize stimulants intake


sleep more - how to beat cravings - toronto personal training

3. Sleep More

Sleep is one of the most overlook tool for improving overall health and well being.

Lack of sleep causes an increased desire for the consumption of sugars and carbohydrates. (2) 

Consistently sleeping 6 hours or less will have an adverse effect on your food choices, metabolism and cravings.

In addition, your cortisol levels (stress hormone) will be increased which results in cravings for high sugar and high fatty foods which cause fat gain around belly and lower back areas.

When cortisol levels are high, the body signals a need for fast digesting carbohydrates (sugar) in order to create an insulin spike in order to lower cortisol levels – this stress related fat deposits in the stomach, lower back and thigh areas.

A consistent schedule of 7-8 hours of sleep will help you overcome these cravings and improve your overall quality of life.


minimize sugar to beat cravings - toronto personal training

4. Minimize sugar intake

Sugar is a fast digesting carbohydrate which causes an insulin spike in the body when ingested. This manifests into a quick surge of energy before crashing down.

In addition, when eating sugar, the brain releases serotonin which is the feel-good chemical.

If done often, the body will become reliant on receiving the feel good chemical from sugar causing withdrawal symptoms when stopped; yes sugar can be addictive.

The more sugar you have in your diet, the more you’ll crave it.

Following the short withdrawal phase from eliminating sugar from your diet, your brain will not be used to relying on sugar for serotonin release, therefore putting a stop to sugar-induced cravings altogether.

Ketogenic diet or a low-carb diet is great for significantly reducing sugar cravings.


scenery - how to beat cravings - toronto personal training

5. Switch up the scenery

Awesome new research studies conducted by Dr. Joe Dispenza demonstrates that environment becomes the primary leading influence on our body(feelings) which then influences our mind. 

Therefore, if your favorite couch is the place you created a habit of eating a bag of chips on a Friday evening or whenever visiting your favorite grocery store you created a habit of buying a chocolate cake, switching up your environment may create a different outcome.

Go out for a walk or visit your local fresh fruits & vegetables shop for a change and create a new, positive habit.


cheat meal - cravings - toronto personal training

6. Have a cheat meal

For sanity’s sake have a cheat meal once in a while. You can even turn it into a reward system where you can reward yourself with your favorite foods of choice on a Sunday for being diligent and consistent with your nutrition throughout the week.

Cheat meals or refeed days play an important role in regulating leptin levels. Leptin’s main function in the body is to play a significant role in regulating both hunger, food intake and energy expenditure.

For instance, if you have been dieting for a while and your fat loss plateaued, more than likely your leptin levels are low which slows down your metabolism and increase cravings for the ‘wrong’ foods.

Carbs ( glucose ) will jump-start your metabolism and increase your leptin levels which will result in your body overcoming cravings and resume the weight loss process.


fridge - beat cravings - toronto personal training

7. Empty your home of ‘bad’ foods

A Doritos bag winking at you while you’re trying to eat baked tilapia with kale surely doesn’t help.

The less junk you have around, the probability of you eating or even thinking about it greatly decreases.

Preparation is absolute key and in some cases more than half the battle in your success of dealing with cravings.

In a state of serious cravings, availability to bad foods plays a significant role in giving in or passing.

Empty your home of foods you know you shouldn’t eat and replace them with healthier alternatives. 



The more you apply these methods and successfully beat cravings, the less they will appear.

Consciously taking action towards overcoming cravings will also build self-discipline and self-awareness creating a better version of yourself.

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