You start your day with a healthy balanced breakfast, pack a beautiful salad for lunch, and head out the door determined to stop craving junk food and sugar.
Then life happens and the handful of M&Ms became the bag and the bag became a pint of ice cream before bed.
How in the world are you going to stay away from food temptation and stop food cravings?
You aren’t alone. Anyone can have cravings for unhealthy food and there’s a multitude of things that can lead to food cravings. Hormones, stress, depression, food, lack of sleep, nutrient deficiencies and more.
I won’t lie, overcoming cravings is tough.
But, combine the 7 Steps to Kick Cravings with the 5 Steps for Healthy Habits and you’ll soon put a stop to food cravings and temptations. (there’s a printable infographic at the end of this post)
Our bodies aren’t our own.
They belong to God and we’re asked to steward them well.
If you haven’t read A Biblical Guide for Overcoming Temptation go back and spend time in God’s Word before diving into the 12 Easy Steps for Stopping Food Cravings.
Twelve Easy Steps
7 Steps to Kick Cravings
If we’d all remember to stop and pray each time food temptations and cravings come our way, there’s a good chance we wouldn’t even need the below steps. God promises to not tempt us beyond what we can handle. He also promises “a way out” so we won’t have to give into temptations.
God keeps His promises.
2. Stop and think.
When you experience a food craving, ask yourself why.
Is it because of stress, emotions, hormones, exhaustion, lack of planning, etc.?
Just taking a moment to think about your craving can be enough, according to research, to cause the craving to dissipate.
- What else have you eaten that day?
- Is your craving because you’ve skipped a meal or two?
- Has what you’ve already eaten provided your body the nutrients it needs?
3. Ask questions.
After you’ve identified why you’re craving food, ask what that food will do for you.
- Will it provide something that will help or hurt your body?
- Does it have the ability to change your emotions, exhaustion, stress, mood, hormones, etc.?
4. Anticipate your goals.
Will giving into the craving help you reach your goals? Spend a minute imagining what you’ll feel or look like after accomplishing your health goals.
5. Contemplate the consequences.
Giving into cravings won’t immediately make you diabetic or 20 pounds heavier but imagining the potential consequences of giving into your cravings can make them less appealing.
Never shame yourself though, this isn’t about appearance, it’s about making the outcome of your goals vivid.
Use your time of contemplation to help make better choices.
6. Never say never.
Putting foods into “good” and “bad” categories can be detrimental. As soon as you tell your brain something’s bad or “off limits” what happens – it’s all you think of and the cravings go through the roof.
Instead tell yourself, “maybe later”.
You also aren’t making foods “off limits” with this step. Research shows postponing is another important step in putting a stop to food cravings and temptations.
7. Change your routine.
Many cravings happen absentmindedly, in concert with other behaviors. Late night TV watching, nibbling your kids leftover foods, certain events, holidays and celebrations to name a few.
Use this Breaking the Chain worksheet to identify the things contributing to your food cravings. Then write in your alternate plan.
The next steps are about building healthy habits that, overtime, will replace and make food temptations fade away. Remember, if you’re truly hungry – eating is ok! Go back and look at our meal planning steps and put a plan in place that sets you up for success.
5 Steps for Healthy Habits
You know if you’re a “salty”, “sweet”, or “crunchy” girl. When replacing your cravings with healthy alternatives, choose things that fit your favorites and remember, even healthy foods should be eaten in moderation.
Overindulgence of any food isn’t good.
It’s hard to give into a craving when the craved food isn’t within reach. Clean out your desk drawers and kitchen cabinets and then stock them with food that will benefit your body.
If it’s actual hunger and not a craving that sets in, you’ll eat those “good for you foods”. Having to get in the car to get a food you’re craving, can be just the deterrent you need.
Cravings could indicate your body needs something.
- Magnesium is used by over 300 processes in the body and largely missing from processed foods. Add nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, or 70+% dark chocolate to your meals and snacks to up your magnesium levels.
- Simple carbs and sugar cravings can mean a lot of things. Start by replacing them with a healthy source of protein and whole grains. This will provide you a long acting source of energy and curb the need for quick energy fixes.
- Salty cravings could indicate you need more electrolytes or just need a big glass of water. Better yet, make sure you’re drinking mineral water, like this one.
Banana’s, olives, dark leafy greens, seaweed snacks, and sweet potatoes are great healthy sources of electrolytes.
If you’re going to kick food cravings for good, you’ll need to spend a little time in the kitchen.
Knowing what you’re going to eat for each meal and snack is step one. Step two involves cooking and eating it.
Don’t have time to plan, shop, and cook?
Whether you plan, shop, and cook for all your meals or choose a service, knowing what you’re going to eat goes a long way in stopping food cravings.
Once you’ve got the above steps in motion and feel you’ve finally kicked your cravings, give yourself a little wiggle room.
Allow yourself occasional junk food or sugary treats.
The key is making sure
- you’re enjoying your favorite things,
- taking the time to truly savor them, and
- enjoying them infrequently.
Take a small bite, set your fork down, slowly chew and think about the flavors and reasons your enjoying that food.
You may find you only eat half your small portion when you’ve taken the time to enjoy it fully.
Completely avoiding unhealthy food is impossible – we’re surrounded by it.
The only way you’ll ever put a stop to food cravings and temptations involves you.
- You have to know why you’re wanting to stop.
- You have to know the negative consequences of continually giving into food cravings.
- You have to be committed for life.
Overcoming any form of temptation isn’t something we’re expected to do alone though.
The Holy Spirit, the best helper in the entire world, is with us 24/7. He helped Jesus live His entire human life, temptation free.
You can do this.
Don’t let food cravings and temptations keep you from doing any and everything God might have for you.
He wants you to enjoy life to its fullest and the effect food can have on our health can hinder this.
When I’ve given in and eaten too many sour patch kids, the resulting high blood sugar makes me feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. That’s not what God wants.
With God, all things are possible.
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13