Food & Nutrition

14 Proven Ways to Control Your Strongest Cravings

Stop making excuses and use these tricks of the trade from researchers and experts to stop your cravings right at this very moment!

Play a game on your smartphone


Cravings typically last for ten minutes so try to distract yourself with something simple like playing a game on your phone.  In a study in Addictive Behaviors, volunteers reported when they had cravings for food, coffee, alcohol, sleep, and more. They were also randomly sent texts throughout the week telling them to play Tetris on an iPod. After playing the game, participants’ craving levels dropped by about 20 percent. “Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupies the mental processes that support that imagery,” study author Jackie Andrade, a psychology professor at the University of Plymouth said. “It is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time.” Make sure you know what your food cravings can reveal about your health.

Take a walk

iStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

A University of Exeter study found that walking briskly for 15 minutes reduced cravings for chocolate—the most commonly reported food craving—during the walk and for at least 10 minutes afterward. The researchers say exercise could alter brain chemicals that help regulate cravings.

Consider the consequences


One study had participants use four different thinking strategies to overcome the urge to eat: thinking about something else, recognizing they don’t need to act on their thoughts, considering the negative long-term effects, or considering the immediate reward of the food. Remembering the long-term consequences of eating the food reduced the craving the most, the study found. If you’re dieting, here are 6 ways to curb pesky cravings without skipping a meal.

Imagine yourself eating

iStock/Sjoerd van der Wal

If you do give in to the urge to eat, a bit of imagination before digging in can help satisfy your craving sooner. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University had participants imagine putting quarters in a laundry machine or eating M&Ms before eating the candies in real life. Those who imagined eating 30 M&Ms and inserting quarters three times ate significantly fewer chocolates than those who imagined adding 30 quarters and eating three M&Ms, or just putting 33 quarters in the machine. The researchers guess that imagining yourself chowing down makes you feel like you’ve already eaten, so you’ll be able to stop eating sooner. Follow these 10 ways to train your brain to hate junk food.

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