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6 Tips to Overcome Food Cravings

Yiwen Lu, MS, RD
January 25, 2024
January 25, 2024

While reading this article, have you found yourself daydreaming about certain foods that you simply can't resist? Perhaps the thought of a juicy piece of fried chicken, a decadent slice of cake, or a rich chocolate bar has your mouth watering. But why am I craving them? 

Why Do I Have Food Cravings?

In general, three factors contribute to food cravings, psychological, physiological, and environmental.

Psychological cravings indicate that your feelings have taken charge of your food desires. For example, when you're feeling stressed, bored, or anxious, you might crave certain foods that you associate with comfort or pleasure.

Physiological cravings signal that your body is reacting to its needs and experiencing changes in nutrient levels, blood sugar levels, or hormones. For example, if you're deficient in iron, you might crave red meat or spinach to boost your iron levels. Similarly, if your blood sugar levels are low, you might want to reach for a sugary snack to quickly raise your blood sugar levels back to normal. It's not just your mind and body that can lead to food cravings.

Your environment can also play a significant role. For instance, if you work in an office where there's always a jar of candy on the desk, you might find it hard to resist the temptation. Or, if you're watching TV and see a commercial for pizza, you might suddenly crave a slice even if you weren't hungry before.

How to Cut Food Cravings?

Depending on what the root cause is, here are 6 helpful tips:

1. Plan Ahead

Plan ahead, we’re talking about much more than just meal prep. Depending on your lifestyle, meal prepping may not always be feasible. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy options when you're eating out. Open your Unified Care app to explore these options in our Restaurant Review Series under the Rewards section.

Now, when I say "plan ahead," I'm simply suggesting that you take the time to plan your meals and snacks in advance. This can help you stick to your nutritional goals and reduce the likelihood of reaching for unhealthy foods when hunger strikes.

Combat sweet cravings by keeping healthy snacks like fruits or a bit of dark chocolate on hand to support your health goals.

If you're in the mood for something crunchy, raw veggies or plain popcorns are excellent choices.

It's also important to follow the MyPlate guidelines when planning your meals. Be sure to include a good balance of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates to keep you feeling satisfied for longer.

2. Eat Mindfully

Eating mindfully means to eat with intent and attention. It means chewing slowly, savoring the flavors and textures of the food, and being mindful of how our bodies feel before and after we eat. We also pay attention to our emotional and physical responses while consuming our meals. By incorporating mindful eating into our daily routines, we can improve our intention and control when and how we eat.

Tip for mindful eating: Turn off your TV and place your phone farther away to enhance your focus on the dining experience.

Make a conscious effort to appreciate the food on your plate and focus on the sensations you experience while eating. Notice the smell, taste, and texture of your food, as well as any feelings of fullness or satisfaction that arise.

3. Stay Hydrated

Got food cravings? Stay hydrated to avoid mistaking thirst for hunger.

With our busy schedules, it's easy to forget to drink enough water as the day goes by. Make an effort to drink at least eight to ten cups of water per day. If you exercise regularly, you may need more water depending on the intensity of your workouts.

It's also important to note that as we age, our sense of thirst decreases, so still drink up even when you don't necessarily feel thirsty. Dehydration can lead to headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating, so it's important to make hydration a priority.

4. Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep can worsen food cravings. When we don't get enough sleep, it can affect the hormones that regulate our appetite. Sleep deprivation can lower the hormone leptin, which signals to our brain that we're full, and increase the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite and triggers food cravings.

Aim to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night to provide your body with the rest it requires for optimal functioning.

Check out this article for tips on how to get a better night's sleep.

5. Manage Stress

Many of us tend to eat when we’re stressed as a coping mechanism, often turning to  processed foods high in fat and sugar. This is because stress triggers the release of the hormone cortisol, which can increase appetite and cravings for high-calorie foods. Check out this article if you're interested in learning more about the chemical effects of stress on the body.

Developing a hobby can be a great way to unwind and reduce stress. Hobbies can provide a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, while also helping to distract from stressors in our lives. Give it a try and you might find yourself becoming a strong believer in the healing power of hobbies!

6. Seek Support

Changing your eating habits and reducing cravings can be challenging, but you don't have to do it alone. Consider seeking support from a friend, a family member, or your Care Team! They can help you stay on track and provide accountability.

We know it’s not always easy to change, but with a strong support system, you can overcome challenges and achieve your goals. Never be afraid to reach out!


So, the next time you find yourself reaching for that tempting treat, take a moment to consider what might be motivating your cravings. Figure out the root cause is , and from there, make intentional choices about what you eat and when, rather than simply giving into your urges. Know that YOU are the boss of your food choices and your wellbeing. With a little effort and a lot of self-awareness, you CAN defeat those cravings!

We're here to support you.

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