How To Beat Cravings

Dan DeFigioBehavior and Mindfulness, Sugar Addiction

how to beat cravings

Most people get hooked up with me from Beating Sugar Addiction For Dummies, or from one of the many stress eating interviews I volunteer to do for magazines and podcasts. In those interviews, I almost always talk about how to beat cravings.

But if you’re looking for a way to beat sugar cravings, there is a RIGHT way and a WRONG way:

The Wrong Way To Beat Sugar Cravings

The wrong way to beat cravings is Willpower.

Sounds weird, doesn’t it?

Everyone assumes that if they just had more willpower, they could stay away from junk food and lose weight.

But willpower is a finite resource, and you’ll always run out eventually. Especially if you try to “swear off” something 100%.

If you have a candy jar at work, every time you walk by it, you have to make a decision:

“Yes I will eat some,” or “No I will not eat any.”

How many times do you think you can keep denying yourself?

How many times can you talk yourself out of something yummy?

“Should I eat this?”
“No, I shouldn’t eat this!”
“But you deserve it.”
“No, I’m being ‘good’.”
“Treat yourself!”
“I’m off sugar.”
“OK, but just this once!”

Eventually you cave because you just can’t take the internal struggle anymore.

And when you rely on willpower, once you DO eat something you told yourself was off-limits, then the binge begins because

YOU FAILED! ALL BETS ARE NOW OFF!

This starts a terrible cycle of attempted denial and willpower struggle, followed by failure, followed by guilt and shame.

how to beat cravings
Willpower is a bad way to try to beat sugar cravings.

The Right Way To Beat Sugar Cravings

Here’s how to beat sugar cravings the right way:

YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU REALLY WANT.

Because what you really want is not junk food.

Dealing with a craving’s root cause is critical to sustainable weight loss.

Instead of asking, “How do I beat these cravings?”
ask yourself, “Why do I have a craving right now?”

Write this down:

A craving is not about the food. It’s about what the food helps you avoid.

When the cookie cravings strike, you’re probably stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, lonely, bored, or in need of some kind of escape.

A yummy treat gives your brain something else to think about for a minute. It gives you a distraction.

When you have an overwhelming desire to indulge in something that you KNOW is no good for you, it’s often because something feels really bad at that moment.

When you’re emotionally eating, you’re becoming powerless because you’re zoning out and distracting yourself from the uncomfortable feelings.

When you’re in that food trance, everything feels great — or, more accurately, you’re not paying attention to what feels bad.

For a moment, you ignore thoughts and worries, forget pressures and responsibilities. Your mind turns away from stress and towards the pleasurable taste. Whatever was bothering you goes on the back burner while you’re eating.

However, the moment you’re done, the good feelings fade, and you’re often left feeling guilty and regretful because you know you just did something bad for yourself. Shortly after that, the very things you were trying to avoid surface again.

Ultimately, cravings are a signal. A signal that something is bothering you. A signal that you’re emotional and you need something.

Sugar can’t give you what you want. It can only be a tool that you use to avoid the real problem for a minute or two.

So next time a sugar craving strikes, ask yourself these three questions:

1) What’s bothering me?
2) What do I really want?
3) What can I do about what’s bothering me?

If you choose to be powerful and deal with what’s bothering you, the cravings will go away.

Most people try to defeat cravings using superhero willpower, which inevitably fails. The only sustainable way to get over cravings is to deal with the root cause, and to figure out what you really want.


If hearing this advice about how to beat cravings the right way resonates with you, I’d like to invite you to apply for some coaching help. If you’ve read this far, and if you like what you hear, I think we’ll be right for each other 🙂