How to Conquer Your Cravings

Does one biscuit end up becoming three or four or maybe even the whole pack? What about bread? Does one slice end up becoming half the pan? Or maybe you stand in the shop planning to make a good choice but end up going for the chocolate bar or donut once again? Oh yes, good old cravings are at it again! Why can’t you say NO? Why can’t you stay in control? Cravings are often the vain of people’s lives.

Cravings can be a very powerful force. Very often they are based on the need to restore blood sugar levels, fill nutritional deficiencies or to stimulate the release of endorphins (feel good chemicals) from our brains. There is a point at which no amount of willpower, positive thinking or inner strength will defeat them. It might surprise you to know that a huge portion of cravings are self-created. There are many things we do and many things we don’t do that set us up to get cravings.



Skipping Breakfast! We all have well and truly heard about the importance of breakfast for many reasons. However you may not realise that skipping breakfast is probably one of the greatest causes of cravings. You probably haven’t eaten since 7 or 8 the night before, so if you skip breakfast your body will now have been critically deprived of vital nutrition for 14 hours or more. This wreaks havoc on your blood sugar levels and virtually ensures you will crave lots of sugary products by mid morning. Make sure to have some breakfast even if it is just one item like a slice of toast, a yogurt or piece of fruit. Break your fast at all costs!

Sugary products! This includes not just the obvious sweets, drinks and chocolates but all the not so obvious sources of sugar like many of our cereals, breads and even juicing our fruit. A high dose of sugar whether in junk form or healthy form is all the same to the body!  It results in a surge of insulin to lower the sugar level and this starts a vicious cycle of low sugar, cravings, sugar intake, insulin again, low sugar again and so on. Change some of your shopping to wholegrain or wholemeal cereals, breads and grains and go back to eating whole fruits and nothing but the whole fruit.

4 hour eating gaps! Very similar to skipping breakfast is any time throughout the day when you have more than 4 hours without eating or drinking something. Indeed really once you go beyond 3 hours your blood sugar will start to drop depending on how busy you are or how stressful your day is. Once you get a drop in blood sugar you are setting yourself up for a sugar ‘fix’ exactly as happens when you skip breakfast. Set a repeat reminder in your mobile to break your fast every 4 hours and have some healthy snacks readily available like unprocessed nut and seeds, yogurt, fruit and oat cakes!

Excess Caffeine! Caffeine can be lethal for cravings. Moderate amounts of caffeine (50 to 100mg) or about 2 cups of medium strength coffee or tea spread over a few hours should be okay. However for many people once they go above 100mg of caffeine in a short period (includes caffeinated soft drinks) it can create the yo-yo blood sugar levels and cravings described above. It is very easy to get high doses of caffeine from the ever expanding range of lattes and espressos available. Switch to decaf coffee or tea, after 5 days you won’t even taste the difference! At the very least alternate every second cup.

Digestive Breakdown! A huge source of cravings can be a malfunctioning digestive system. Not only can it result in poor absorption of nutrients but it can result in bacterial imbalances and the growth of yeast and other fungi that feed off sugar and create huge cravings! Your digestive system can become like a second ‘stomach’ that you have to feed. Strengthening your digestive system with a strong probiotic (good bacteria) supplement and amazing L-glutamine, an amino acid that helps heal and strengthen digestive tract tissue could well be the miracle you are looking for!

Nutritional Deficiencies! Very often your cravings will be based on nutritional deficiencies. Low levels of vital minerals like calcium, magnesium, chromium and zinc and vitamins like A and D can upset your body’s whole metabolism especially hormone balance, blood sugar levels and endorphin production. One of these alone can lead to bad cravings not to mention two or three together! We might have lots of food but we are often getting very poor nutrition. The best insurance policy is to take a good multi-vitamin and a good multi-mineral supplement to cover all your bases and greatly minimise your risk not only of cravings but of a multitude of other health problems.

Work on these areas for better craving success!

If you have any questions about anything above please email me at and I will reply.

Thanks for reading,

David McDonagh (Nutritionist, fitness trainer & creator of System 10 Weight Loss)

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