A friend of mine asked me last week for ideas about dealing with junk food cravings. I wanted to share my answer here and see what other suggestions we can find for handling these cravings.

1) Distract
Our bodies want nutrition, but our taste buds and brains get bored. When cravings hit, try doing something that doesn’t involve food. Phone call, walk, drink some water–whatever works for you at that moment.

2) Replace
My cravings involve chocolate, peanut butter, and cupcakes. Them shits can get up in my brain like nobody’s business. I’ve found that substitutions can help. For my crunchy cravings, I go with these multigrain chips from Costco. Almonds can be a good tool, too. Like chocolate? Drop a few bucks on some chocolate dusted almonds from Blue Diamond. Is it ice cream? Check out some recipes for making ice cream with protein powder (I use Vi Shape) and bananas. Cake cravings? Fight the power with Quest bars or something else that has a touch of sweetness.

3) Negotiate
Cheat meals are great; they’re the Anakin Skywalker of good eating habits, bringing balance when used sparingly. At predetermined intervals (every Sunday around lunch usually works for us), have something picked out that you’ve just gotta have. Scratch the fuck out of that itch, but show some control, too. Limit intake to that one meal and maybe a little desert. Earn it ahead of time with an intense 30-minute calorie burner.

At the end of the day, go easy on yourself. My biggest challenge is focus: ADD is a bitch of a distraction. Focusing on your goals as much as possible, remembering that the instant fix is never as gratifying as the delayed release (tantric sex and cheat days? Lemme call Sting…). Often, cravings are either a bored mind or passing urge. Try to stick it out for 20 minutes before surrendering. Use that cheat meal on a regular basis as the carrot before the horse.

What strategies do you have for handling junk food cravings?

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