Ten minutes to beat your cravings

Emma Brown | 14 Feb, 2017

Have you ever had a "good" day where you have eaten really well, kept a perfect NC diary with green ticks all round and good food choices... and then watched in horror as it all goes terribly wrong when you give into a sudden craving for something (fatty, sugary, salty) and pile on the calories? Me too.

Try using this 10 minute rule. It doesn't make it easy or fun, but it does make it more possible for me to resist a craving. I have noticed it is easier to do when I am working on my list of advantages of losing weight regularly because then they are in the front of my mind when I need them.

When a craving strikes:

  1. Move away from the food. So you can't see it (or hear it calling to you!)
  2. Rate how strong the craving is on a scale from 1-10
  3. Wait 10 minutes
  4. Fill that 10 minutes by renewing your motivation.
  • Write your list of advantages of losing weight (if you haven't already) or work on it.
  • Consider what will happen if you do eat whatever you are craving. Not how lovely it will taste, but what will happen after you have eaten it: will you feel guilty, over full, angry/disappointed with yourself?
  • Imagine your disappointment and crossness when you next stand on the scale and have put on weight.
  1. Do something distracting - preferably that you can't do while eating: use the NC forum; go for a walk; pick up your knitting / colouring; play the piano; paint your nails; have a bath; kiss someone you love.
  2. When 10 minutes are up: how strong is your craving now ?

If the strength of craving has stayed the same: that's great. You've resisted for 10 minutes already, so you can do another ten minutes: you know you can, because you already have!

If the strength of the craving has gone down: that's fantastic. You've resisted a higher level craving for 10 minutes, you can certainly resist this lower level one for 10 minutes.

If the strength of the craving has gone up: be honest... how did you spend the 10 minutes? Were you thinking about either (1) how lovely the food would be or (2) how deprived / sorry for yourself you feel that you can't eat it? Go back and start again: but make it easy for yourself this time and follow one of the strategies above.

Remember you always have a choice: short term loss of a craved food/drink versus long term loss of weight? No contest really!

Nutritionist Emma Brown, MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.