5 Step How to: Stop Cravings and Tame Temptation

Do you find temptation around every corner? Doing your best to confine your ice cream habit to cheat day but things are slipping? Temptation isn’t just for daytime soaps, but the good news is that it’s not as tough to beat as they’d have us think.

Why do we see people wrestling with being tempted on TV, sometimes for months at a time? Its because temptation is everywhere, right? And deep down inside we’re all on the verge of falling to it?

Not exactly.

Temptation makes for interesting plot lines because it allows tension to build and can smoothly lead to even more interesting plot lines like infidelity, crime and self-destruction through any number of TV soap methods like drugs.

So then, what about you, and me, eating our beans and thinking about chocolate? (sometimes I wish black beans weren’t so close in color to chocolate).

What about when we’re heading for our walk outside and the sofa is calling our name? Or, in summer weather those juicy burgers and ice cold beers?? What are your favorite temptations that come calling on you right when you don’t need them?

Now that we’re thinking about them, let’s get one thing straight – they’re healthy! Having the temptations that is, perhaps not the actual triple fudge banana sundae that’s floating through my mind right now. But having temptations is a sign the you’re alive! So don’t lock them away.

Where it’s easy to get a little lost is in thinking the actual object of the craving is to blame for feeling tempted. There’s usually an underlying reason such a temptation finds you.

Loving the looking of a juicy hamburger? Maybe you haven’t been keeping up with your beans and meat enough lately and your body is craving some protein. It’s common to crave foods, especially if your fat intake is suddenly incredibly low.

Thinking the sofa looks like a better option than the gym? Maybe you’re not giving your body all the rest it needs each night.

Think it’s hard to get to the bottom of those temptations? It’s not, but a bit of practice helps.

Let’s take a look at a very common example: Snacking. I could have used candy, pizza, but the process is the same.

Step 1: Identify if the craving is a one-time thing, or is recurring.

In the case of snacking, it is recurring – let’s assume it comes most days.

Step 2: Look behind the action, or what’s involved.

Snacking involves eating something in between meals, sometimes at a desk, or on the move. However, if we simply try to control what’s at our desk or around us, things could get tough. Snacking seems to have some part of boredom involved, as it’s less about the actual kind of food and more about just having some. It could also indicate stomach acid issues, as putting food in an acidic stomach calms it.

Step 3: Get to the bottom of it!

From step 2, we progress to finding what’s the real cause of our craving. In this case, if we rule out any medical issue, like high stomach acid (which could be stress related), then we look at the activity, and the fact that it ‘cures’ boredom. We need to consider why we might be bored in the first place, and if its a reason that could be changed. Is it because we’re working at an unchallenging job? Is it because there are worries that are carried through the day, and unconsciously they create nervous tension, which needs a release? It could be as simple as lack of food at mealtimes.

Step 4: Re-engineer, don’t replace

Now we have a chance to actually make a great positive change in our lives. Rather than simply replacing a cookie with a carrot, we’re on the edge of being able to do away with those snacks altogether! Looking at the source of the problem, rather than focusing on the craving, can help dig to the bottom of something, unravel it, and give us a chance to simply work with it and change it. If the cause in Step 3 was nervous tension, quite possibly the antidote to a habit of snacking on cookies is a walk at lunchtime, or some kind of workout before work, not a carrot.

Step 5: Give yourself the best chance to succeed

If the answer to Step 1 was ‘recurring’ then now is the time to help yourself out by approaching the situation with you new solution, but realize that changing a habit does take some time. 4-6 weeks is generally long enough for something to feel like ‘normal’, so work out a plan of action, and follow through by marking it out on a calendar. You will be amazed how quickly the time flies by, and how you’re able, after a short period of time, to look back and wonder how your craving used to get your attention so easily.

If your craving is a one-off, then by now you should have found the underlying reason for it, and if so, then take some action on it! A lot of food cravings have their roots in missed meals, lack of a certain kind of nutrient, or a habit of looking for life’s variety and interest in food.

When on slow carb, people might find the food repetitive or boring. This can be quite challenging for some people, especially if you’re the kind of person who enjoys getting a lot of variety and interest from your food. For anyone who feels like they’re just bored with beans, or sick of spinach, I recommend looking behind the cravings that come along – because they’re a sign that you’re looking for variety. This variety can be found in different ways other than food, and some examples of this include varying your workouts or activities, watching some different things on TV, finding some new things to read online, taking up a new hobby or learning something new. All of these will provide plenty of variety, so that food becomes functional, and practical, and life remains interesting. Remember cheat day meals can get as interesting as you like!

I know that you can beat those cravings, and a few minutes thinking about them before they attack can make it a lot easier!

Do you have a craving that drives you crazy? Or do you have some tips to share? Leave a comment below!

Photo by Pixaio

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15 Responses to 5 Step How to: Stop Cravings and Tame Temptation

  • Jason says:

    I struggle a LOT with cravings, and I’ve been able to pinpoint why: Breakfast.

    When I eat a really good, filling breakfast full of protein, beans, and veggies I never get hungry. It seems to even extend throughout the day.

    I try to eat less beans these days because I want to depend less on the carbohydrates, but they are definitely what keep me feeling full longer. I eat a bunch at breakfast and maybe half as much at lunch, and then I don’t need any at dinner.

    The best part is, I don’t get cravings!

    -j

    • Alexander says:

      Try eating more saturated fat. It releases the hormone Leptin which tells your body that it’s full.

  • Alexander says:

    I honestly kept failing on my diet until I stopped allowing myself a cheat day: That was the only major stopping block to my success.

    Sugar is INCREDIBLY addictive, so it didn’t make sense to me to keep exposing myself to it. I’d get almost to the point getting over the withdrawal, then it was cheat day and I’d eat something sugary and have to start the process of quitting all over again. It’s like any addiction, really; If you’re trying to quit smoking you don’t quit for a week or two, then smoke for a day, then take a few weeks off then smoke again for a day. The same as for alcohol or heroin. You wouldn’t tell an alcoholic or a junky that it’s okay to drink or shoot up once and a while… as soon as they do, they’ll be addicts again.

    • Annie says:

      I’m totally agree with you, Sugar is quite an adiction and is really hard to get over it after the cheat day, i’ve been doing this diet for the last 4 months everythig was working ok but then i went on vacations and ate everything i could so I gain back 3 kilos now im trying to get back to healthy life but it is being so complicate bcz of my sugar adiction.

      Im going to try without cheat day and see if it makes it easier.

      Thanks I thought i was crazy thinking it was like an adiction hahaha its good to know someone have same problem than me :D

      • Luke says:

        Hey Annie,

        You’re right it’s hard to break that sugar fix. Try having a cheat day but use some different foods, that aren’t so sugar or carbohydrate dense. A lot of people really enjoy some things that have some carbs, but also have some more fat as well.

        All the best,
        Luke

  • Matt & Lisa Ray says:

    My husband & I struggle with cravings quite a bit as we have two young children at home who love their treats!! When we are really tempted, we make a quick shake in the blender to include unsweetened almond milk, ice, protein powder (Trader Joe’s makes a whey powder that only has 2g’s of sugar), Stevia, unsweetened Hershey’s baking cocoa powder, cinnamon. Occasionally, we will drop a tablespoon of peanut butter in the blender too!

    • Luke says:

      Hey guys thanks for leaving your comment! That sounds delicious, and like a good option if the cravings are really driving you crazy. Have you found it affects your weekly results much?

      All the best,
      Luke

  • Shoshana says:

    While I appreciate that some cravings can be worked through and solved for their underlying motivation, I’ve gotta say that I feel like that’s a very small percentage of my “temptations”! What about all those that we want just because… we want them? I can feel full and content, engaged and happy, and STILL have an overwhelming craving for a pint of Ben&Jerry’s! :)

    The only thing that works for me is creating an even more vivid picture of something else that I want — namely, a toned and healthy physique. I would love to hear what works for others!

    • Luke says:

      Thanks for your thoughts on this too. Cravings can be really tough. Another possibility is a deficiency of some kind, even at a cell level, can drive cravings that don’t seem to have a ‘rational’ reasoning behind them. The human body is a complex environment, and I suspect we know very little about it, compared to what there is to know and understand.

      I’d also like to hear from other people about their cravings! I find lemon juice in water can neutralize a sweet craving pretty well.

      All the best,
      Luke

  • Sharon says:

    My cravings are associated with “Starbucks Vanilla Bottled Coffee Drinks”. The only alternative I have is going to Starbucks and buying the “White Mocha (iced or hot doesn’t matter). The reason I say it’s the only alternative is because it’s the only thing that works if I don’t have the other. I have tried to make coffee and milk drinks myself, replaced with coffee and something else, and nothing works. I always go back to the craving of this sugary, creamy treat (that’s not a treat anymore, it’s an obsession). I wake up in the morning and think about having my drink. If I decide not to have it and to follow the slow carb diet, like I’m supposed to, I think of the drink all day. It’s more than a wish or just having the drink, it’s a full-blown addiction, obsession, and craving that I can’t seem to do without. I have maybe gone 30 days in the past 5 years without having at least one of these drinks. It’s adding weight to me daily and keeping me from following the slow carb plan. Any suggestions? I know it’s a lot to take on.

    Thanks!

    • Luke says:

      Hey Sharon, thanks for sharing your worries about the Starbucks drinks. I’m sure that you’re not alone.
      Drinks especially, that are packed with sugar, cream and caffeine are highly addictive, and that addiction can be as hard to break as smoking, because it’s beyond mind-control – it’s a physical addiction.
      For starters, it sounds like you need to get off the rollercoaster, before you can even start to live without the drinks. In these situations, generally speaking it’s best to go cold-turkey, and never look back. Having recently read some other diet books, the consensus is that ‘trigger foods’ or ‘addiction foods’ are best avoided 100%, for quite a long time, before you can even think about having one again.
      If I were, I would declare that having had these drinks for years and years now, you’ve had enough for a lifetime, and that you’re sick and tired of them controlling you. It’s time to be in charge again.
      It’s likely that it will be tough going, however most of these addictions will break in somewhere between 5 to 14 days. If you can last that long, you’ll find things a lot easier.
      Just remember, life is not better with them – it is worse. Any time you think about having the drink, remember – life is worse with that drink.
      Following slow carb while getting off these drinks is perfect, because slow carb is about stabilizing your blood sugar. The drinks you mentioned will be doing exactly the opposite, and that’s why you’ve learned to crave them.
      Follow slow carb totally, for a month, and don’t even include caffeine as part of your daily routine. Remember that milk is excluded too. Generally people could stay with coffee and cinnamon, however in this case I think you need to quickly ‘pull off the bandaid’ and get through the withdrawal phase fast, which will happen by following slow carb and going no where near caffeinated drinks. Avoid artificial sweeteners too, because they might trigger a memory of a sweet drink.
      All the very best with it, I know it’s not easy, but you can do it.
      Luke

  • mark says:

    HEY GUYS..

    i know its only ment to be allowed on cheat days. (wich should only ast between lunch and youre dinner)

    but when i have a day were my mind “forks” me over… i go for a fruit… a big apple og hard pear and a big (450ml) water drink

    if going to the rest room at work and doing air squats and chest pulls doesnt shift my brain…

    we are all different but getting enough water seems to keep my belly and mind occupied.
    my go to is fizzy “minerel” water with lemon.. as it satisfies my brains lust for soft frinks as well

    • Luke says:

      Hey Mark, thanks for your comment.
      I know what you mean about keeping your mind occupied, and your stomach too. I like a splash of lemon juice in water or green tea. Sometimes your stomach reacts to emotion-triggering events in the day, and can start a process similar to digestion.. in which case it may well desire food. There’s other events that can affect our desire for food, too.
      Sounds like the mineral water is a winner. If your body can tolerate a piece of fruit in the week, and still give you the fat loss you desire, then consider it a good modification! For some people though, depending on how their body reacts to sugars, this might not be an option.
      All the best!
      Luke

  • What can i do outside of the home/kitchen when with friends? situations with gas stations, pizza parlors, and snack bars are hard for me. especially because its hard for me to tell my friends what i’m doing. I find myself in situations where I’m hungry and don’t have anything prepared and can’t find anything from my nearby resources. Also, eating out at friend’s houses seems impossible. I don’t want to impose on a pre-made meal, so do i make that day my cheat day? does messing up on the diet really not ever supposed to happen?

    • Luke says:

      Hey thanks for your question.

      It sounds like there’s a lot of environmental challenges for you. It’s important to consider if that same environment led you to being overweight. In general, we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with – the average of the income level, average of exercise level, average weight, etc. If your environment makes it hard to even discuss that you want to lose weight, you need to realize that it will be a very challenging journey. If you lose weight, people will notice, and I’m sure you realize this. That means you already have a big reason, potentially, not to lose any weight.
      The key to success with slow carb is having a strong reason to want to make a change – strong enough that it is a ‘must do’. This means that it outweighs other priorities – that it is more important to you – that it’s higher on the priority list than being comfortable and not ‘rocking the boat’ if other people will be uncomfortable about your attempts to change. You know inside what you want to do, but it could take some courage.
      As for situations where you’re out, and it’s hard to grab foods – this is true. There aren’t a lot of options because there’s so much carbohydrate-based meals available at restaurants and take-aways. That said, you can focus in on items that are salads, with meat, and leave the dressing on the side. If you can’t get to beans, you can double up the meat, and have some oil on the salad, or have some avocado for example. If you find yourself in snack bars, pizza parlors, etc, very often, then it may be a need to change your activities a little, to make the change to your weight. It’s those places that make it harder to not gain more weight, so people find it makes things easier to change habits and not go to those places so much.
      If you’re heading to a friend’s place for a meal, you could definitely make that day your cheat day. Just make sure you have 5 days of slow carb between cheat days.

      It can be challenging to make such lifestyle shifts, but if the goal you’re aiming for is some ways from where you are at now, it will likely take some decent-sized changes to get there. There’s no way to do things a little bit different, and get large results

      I have a couple of suggestions. Slow carb is just one way to lose weight. It is convenient for people who are able to make large changes to their meals, and stick with those changes. It’s then easy because the meals become a habit – there’s very little thinking involved day to day. As an alternative, you could learn more about Low GI diets, and understand the principles of them, and then apply those principles on a day to day basis, to your own lifestyle. This will require more thought and effort, however once you have the knowledge, you are able to make decisions each day and therefore be more flexible with your choices. The video course I created teaches not only the slow carb diet, but also the foundational principles of why it works, which gives people the ability to customize it to their preferences and lifestyle. You can check out the free one week Fat Loss Kickstarter intro course at http://www.completebodyfatcontrol.com

      I hope that helps you out. All the very best in health, fitness and happiness,
      Luke

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