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How to stop food cravings

Have you ever been driving in your car and felt the sudden need to pull over – for food?

Whether you were leaving the house for a quick errand and couldn’t stop thinking about a bag of potato chips or coming home from work and the urge for fast food hit, at some point, we’ve all encountered food cravings.

Occasional food cravings can be normal, but when they become constant and overwhelming to the point that your life has begun to revolve around food, it’s time to seek a solution. Here’s everything you need to know about how to stop food cravings.

Accept that food cravings are rarely physical

Let’s think back to the times when you were unable to stop cravings and gave in to your eating impulses. It’s usually not a craving for something healthy. In fact, food cravings often result in binging, or eating so much that you feel like you can’t control yourself. After a while, when you feel like you can’t take it any longer, you buy yourself the burrito and a side of nachos or mindlessly eat an entire container of ice cream while watching television.

Here’s the thing about binging: You’re not seeking to consume a certain type of food; you’re looking for a specific emotion. You want to feel a certain way. You think a particular sort of food is the only way to fulfill this need, even though you rationally know better. That’s why you turn to food when you’re feeling anxious, stressed or tired. You think that a certain type of food will be able to reset your emotions, but that’s hardly ever the case. In fact, you usually feel pretty terrible after an episode of binging, and find yourself wondering how to stop cravings altogether.

Accept that food cravings are rarely physical

Let’s think back to the times when you were unable to stop cravings and gave in to your eating impulses. It’s usually not a craving for something healthy. In fact, food cravings often result in binging, or eating so much that you feel like you can’t control yourself. After a while, when you feel like you can’t take it any longer, you buy yourself the burrito and a side of nachos or mindlessly eat an entire container of ice cream while watching television.

Here’s the thing about binging: You’re not seeking to consume a certain type of food; you’re looking for a specific emotion. You want to feel a certain way. You think a particular sort of food is the only way to fulfill this need, even though you rationally know better. That’s why you turn to food when you’re feeling anxious, stressed or tired. You think that a certain type of food will be able to reset your emotions, but that’s hardly ever the case. In fact, you usually feel pretty terrible after an episode of binging, and find yourself wondering how to stop cravings altogether.

three donuts with sprinkles

Examine your focus

person craving burger

When you’re experiencing food cravings, it’s because you’re allowing your mind to focus entirely on the sensation of eating. Your desire takes the form of thinking about what it would be like to smell and taste your preferred food, be it donuts, French fries or chocolate chip cookies, and you’re already envisioning how it will feel to “reward” yourself once you fulfill the craving.

The next time you begin to feel like this, notice your bad habit. What kind of mood are you in when your food cravings kick in? Is it a certain type of food that you usually crave? When do you begin to lose focus on your daily life and start shifting your thoughts toward food? The more you recognize these negative thought patterns, the quicker you’ll be able to stop them in the future.

Find what makes you feel good

Now, what if instead of giving in to your food cravings, you found another outlet that made you attain the emotion you’re after? If you’re looking to feel more joyful, why not try swapping out binge eating for a walk around the block or reading a story to your children? If you’re overeating because you think it will take your mind off stressful thoughts, why not try doing something like finding a podcast or a new author you’re wild about?

The trick is to step inside your bad food habit and swap out the current reward, food, with something more productive. It’s going to take practice at first. You’re used to giving in to your cravings, seeking out comfort in food. But over time, your mind will shift once you begin to integrate new, positive habits into your life. Now when you’re stressed, you know you have an upcoming episode of your favorite podcast to fall back on instead of stopping through the drive-thru for a burger.

coffee and a notebook

You’re in control

woman eating

The biggest thing to remember when it comes to stopping food cravings is that you’re in control. As Tony Robbins says, “You can’t always control the wind, but you can control the sails.” You’ll always have good and bad days, and sometimes you’ll be tempted to fall back into old habits. Maybe there’s a major transition going on at work, and the old you would have wanted to unwind with a cheesecake after leaving the office. But the new you – the new you recognizes that eating that cheesecake won’t make you feel any better. You need to process your emotions in a constructive way instead.

You’re in charge of your emotions, and you have the power to stop giving in to your food cravings. Will there be times when you still think about going through the fast food drive-thru? Of course. But now you know that just because you’re experiencing a craving doesn’t mean you need to indulge in unhealthy behavior. Commit to creating new, lasting habits that will make you feel better physically and emotionally today.

Ready to drop unhealthy behavior?

Learn how you can abandon bad eating habits and achieve a healthier lifestyle today by reading Tony Robbins’ free Ultimate Health Guide.