Time-Boxing For Food Cravings

Dan DeFigioBehavior and Mindfulness

time box food cravings
I have a new tool for you to try out if you’re having trouble with food temptations.
It’s called “TIME-BOXING.”

If maintaining discipline all the time feels too overwhelming, or feels like too much deprivation, you can take baby steps towards cutting back on the unhealthy foods in smaller chunks of time — a “time box”.
time boxing food cravings

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re still struggling with cravings for sugar. Instead of denying yourself something sweet 24/7 until your willpower finally gives out, put some time constraints around your behavior. Try something like “No sugar while I’m at work”, or “No sweets after 7:00 pm.”

Pick something manageable that you know you can do.

Cutting up your decision-making process into more manageable chunks can help keep you on track, since there is an “end” in sight. Staying the course forever can seem overwhelming, but staying the course for a few hours (or even a few minutes) is much more manageable.

Members of Alcoholics Anonymous use time-boxing by saying “One day at a time” instead of “I can never drink again.”

Putting your goals in a time box will give you PRACTICE at saying No (well, it’s really saying “not yet”) to sugar and examining your cravings. And practice is how you build healthy habits!

It also helps knowing there can be some kind of “release” after the time constraint is over. You may find that the possibility of giving yourself “permission” is very empowering, and makes it much easier to make smart decisions.

So if you are struggling, don’t think of healthy eating as marathon that you have to run from start to finish. Set your time box from now until mile marker 3, or something like that.

Just pick one thing to get some healthy time under your belt. The little wins add up, and pretty soon you’ll be able to stretch your time box into hours or days.


Dan DeFigio how to get off sugarDan DeFigio is a well-known nutrition expert and the author of Beating Sugar Addiction For Dummies. Learn how to get off sugar for good with Dan’s Sugar Free Me program (half-price!)