Column: 10 ways to control cravings

Commentary by Christy Kirkendol-Watson

With the holiday season upon us, we all could use a quick reminder about reaching for the “bad stuff” during idle time or otherwise. Here are 10 strategies to help decrease cravings:

1. Make the decision. You have to decide if you want to gradually decrease the bad sugars/carbohydrates or quit cold turkey. After a month you will experience fewer cravings.

2. Watch your sugar level. Items with a lot of carbohydrates, or sugar, cause your blood sugar to rise and fall fast. Eat high-protein meals to regulate your sugar level and feel full longer.

3. Sugary beverages: Don’t! These are full of carbohydrates and sugar, and diet drinks have been shown to increase cravings because artificial sweeteners are 600 times sweeter than table sugar. Water, please.

4. Substitute. If you’re craving something, choose a healthier alternative instead, such as a protein bar or tea.

5. Distract. If you’re feeling the munchies have arrived, want to stress eat or eat out of boredom, try other activities instead. Immediately.

6. Question yourself! If you find yourself looking in the kitchen, ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry?” You may really be bored, stressed, anxious or in need of movement.

7. Organize. It’s really this simple: Organize your fridge and pantry so you see healthy options first.

8. Eat mindfully. We eat fast and often while in the middle of another task, which leads to eating more. Only focusing on eating helps you realize when you feel/sense being full.

9. Control your environment. Eat a high-protein filling breakfast so it will be easier to avoid temptation at work.

10. Sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, the hormone cortisol becomes abnormal and increases hunger. Try banning electronics in the bedroom and instead read or bathe before bedtime.

Christy Kirkendol-Watson, M.D., is the founder and chief medical officer of Live Light Clinic. You may contact her via

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