• Food cravings can strike at any moment, leaving you with an important decision: to give in or to conquer those cravings.
  • It’s okay to indulge, but if you’d rather defeat those food cravings, there are a few important strategies that can help you do so, of which involve transforming your mindset.
  • First, get rid of that overly restrictive diet: overly restrictive rules will only enhance those cravings and increase your chances of overindulging in unhealthy foods. 
  • Second, identify and eliminate negative self-talk; of course it’s important to be honest with yourself, but that doesn’t mean you have to be cruel. Say nice things instead.
  • Finally, prioritize making healthier choices—instead of indulging in 10 Oreos, just have a couple. This is defeating that craving in it’s own way!

Do you ever experience an intense food craving out of the blue? Maybe it’s a bowl of cookie dough ice cream from your favorite ice cream parlor. Or, maybe it’s a giant slice of pepperoni pizza with a side of ranch. For me, it’s usually a big basket of chips with guacamole and queso on the side. Sometimes, I let myself indulge without giving the decision much thought, and I don’t feel even a little guilty. Usually, though, I do think twice and do my best to conquer my food craving… before ultimately treating myself and suffering from the guilt after my indulgence. 

Let’s be clear: There’s nothing wrong with indulging and giving into your cravings every now and then. However, if you’re trying to make healthier choices or you’re following a strict diet, these cravings can prove problematic. And the worst part is that they seem impossible to beat! Don’t worry, I have good news: Those cravings are not unbeatable. And perhaps some even better news is that you can still enjoy these foods without feeling guilty, especially if you follow Dr. Kara Fasone’s tips. While you can certainly put a few basic tricks to the test—like drinking water when you experience cravings—Fasone’s tips are rooted in changing your overall mindset when it comes to food. Here are her three mindset tips for defeating food cravings:

1) Don’t make your diet too strict.

Successfully overcoming food cravings is very much dependent on one’s mindset and their ability to persevere through mentally and emotionally tough situations. While some may argue that discipline is the key to staying away from the beckoning cookie jar, an overly prescriptive diet can backfire. Setting strict weight loss rules results in black and white thinking, which exaggerates feelings of failure (and may lead some to give up on eating healthy and focusing on wellness altogether) if they happen to forego their meal-prepped lunch or cave into the free cupcakes catered in at work. Food is NOT a reward and the act of eating should NOT be punished. Make it a habit to think about what you can eat to energize your body rather than what you can’t eat. You’ll find it much easier to stick to healthier choices when you realize just how big a variety of nutritious foods you can choose from.

2) Engage in positive self-talk instead of negative self-talk.

I cannot stress enough the importance of self-talk. Sometimes, we say things to ourselves that we’d never say to another person, because well, we can be downright mean to ourselves! While it’s important to stay honest and accountable for your actions, it’s just as important to stay logical and realistic in your expectations and evaluations of yourself. Psychologists and doctors often recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques designed for people who struggle with weight loss, overeating, or poor body image. One such technique encourages you to recognize feelings of low self-esteem and other negative thoughts that can trigger negative health behaviors, such as caving into emotional eating episodes. Instead of saying to yourself…

  • I’m a failure because I eat too much.
  • I’ll never get to my ideal weight.
  • It’s too hard to eat healthy foods.

…you’ll learn to engage in more positive self-talk, shifting to affirmations, such as:

  • I’m a good person, and I can get my eating under control.
  • With a little effort and persistence, I will reach a healthy weight.
  • My nutritionist will help me create a meal plan I can stick with.
  • I can lean on my support network when things get tough.

3) Prioritize making healthy choices… in every area of your life.

As humans, we gravitate toward easy solutions. We crave convenience. We can use this preference to our advantage when it comes to making healthier decisions. No, you don’t have to throw away your Oreos in order to eat healthfully, but you can be strategic with where you store them in your kitchen! Keep those Oreos, but store them out of sight and up high. Do the opposite with healthy foods and snacks, like fresh fruit or energy-packed trail mix. By decreasing the convenience of the junk food, you’re less likely to mindlessly grab the package and start noshing.

The next time you experience an intense food craving, remember that it’s okay to indulge sometimes! But, if you’re really trying to defeat your cravings instead, remember Dr. Fasone’s tips: think about what you can eat, instead of what you can’t; engage in more positive self-talk like, “I’m a good person and can get my eating under control”; and prioritize making healthy choices when it comes to food and other areas of life, too.