Cravings aren’t about willpower, a nutritionist explains – here’s how you can actually beat them

You’re on a mission to lose weight, so naturally healthy eating has become somewhat of a priority. Great, you’re on the path to success! But when those pesky cravings come hurtling around, all thoughts of health become a distant, hazy memory as you tumble into a cascade of typically ‘naughty’ treats.

Damn those sugar cravings. But there could finally be a solution to take back control; it’s all about adjusting your biochemistry.

Bear with us, because it’s actually easier than it sounds.

Nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Alternatives to Dieting, explains that whilst sometimes cravings can be put down to greed, they, “are much more likely to stem from a biochemical urge that is almost impossible to control by mind power alone.”

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She said, “It’s not about willpower and it’s not your mind’s fault that you can’t give up certain foods. It’s simply that nobody has told you how to give your body what it needs – balanced blood sugar.”

“It’s these fluctuations in blood sugar that can cause cravings, water retention, excess thirst and even mood swings.

“Your body is demanding a particular type of food, usually sugar, because it has a need for it. And when your body has a need it will let you know in no uncertain terms,” she adds.

But what about banishing the ‘naughty’ grub? Clearing out the fridge, emptying kitchen cupboards, banning biscuits from the weekly shop?

MORE: Is your ‘healthy’ drink filled with more sugar than four doughnuts?

“This isn’t the answer,” Marilyn says.

“Cravings are linked with mood swings, caused by biochemical changes in you body. Adjust your biochemistry and you will find yourself in control of those cravings.”

So just how can you re-adjust your blood sugar and ditch those cravings?

Marilyn recommends eating unrefined carbohydrates as part of each meal such as brown rice, millet, oats, rye, spelt and whole-wheat as opposed to ‘white’ carbs including biscuits, pasta, cakes and white bread.

Sadly this also includes sugar-filled foods and drinks; chocolate, sweets, pastries and fruit yogurts, as well as many savoury foods like tomato sauces, marinades and dressings.

Marilyn reveals that even if you don’t add sugar to your tea and/or coffee, you can still be consuming around 46 teaspoons of sugar every day simply because it is added (and hidden) in so many food; both sweet and savoury.

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Whilst banishing sweet food in a bid to rid yourself of sweet-tooth cravings might sound odd and if we’re honest, far too much of a challenge, Marilyn does add that small, frequent meals (no more than three hours apart), are another important part of keeping blood sugar balanced. Eating this often almost doesn’t allow your body time to actually build up a craving in the first place.

As well as this, Marilyn adds, “Try to avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea, chocolate and soft drinks, and aim to develop a habit of reading labels carefully.”

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Oh and avoid swapping sugar for sweeteners.

“You will simply be introducing a foreign chemical which your body then has to deal with,” says Marilyn, adding that sweeteners “can increase your appetite and make you gain weight.”

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