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30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge Day 15: 6 Tips for Stopping Food Cravings

author image Valaer Murray
Valaer Murray is LIVESTRONG.COM's Editorial Director and has previously worked at AOL, and Whalerock Industries. She's a founding editor of, served as the head of programming for the Webby-honored YouTube Original Channel, and has written for numerous outlets.
30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge Day 15: 6 Tips for Stopping Food Cravings
Stop unhealthy food cravings in their tracks. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg / LIVESTRONG.COM

Cravings. We all have them. They're completely normal. The real challenge is not giving into them too often. Learning what causes your cravings and how to manage them will help you stay on track.

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First off, a craving is not hunger. When you're hungry, your body has various ways of telling you that it wants and needs sustenance. It requires fuel to keep running, and pretty much anything will do.

A craving is a hankering for a specific food ― usually the type that's not part of your healthy eating plan. Where do cravings come from, though? The answer lies in your brain. Research suggests that your brain is partially responsible because mental imagery plays a major role in cravings.

When you crave a certain food, your brain generates vivid images of that food, reinforcing the craving and making it more powerful. When your brain is generating the imagery accompanying your craving, it has less brainpower available for other cognitive tasks. (So don't try solving algebraic equations while you're overwhelmed by the desire to gobble french fries.)

6 Tips for Stopping Food Cravings

  1. Drink plenty of water. Sometimes your body mistakes thirst for hunger. Pro tip: Add a slice of lemon for variety. 
  2. Be proactive. Eat regularly and don't let yourself get too hungry.
  3. Keep healthy snacks on hand wherever you are, especially when you're on the go.
  4. Allow yourself to give into the cravings from time to time in a controlled portion so you don't feel deprived.
  5. When a craving strikes, focus on something else — go for a walk, meditate, read, etc.
  6. Indulge a little by having a piece of dark chocolate or fruit if you're craving sweets.

When a craving hits, track it. Write it down and note what you're doing when it strikes, how you're feeling and how you handled it. This helps you better understand and control them so you don't have to cave to cravings.

How to Join the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge

Food tracking can be easy.
Food tracking can be easy. Photo Credit: LIVESTRONG.COM

1. Download the MyPlate App

Documenting your food and activity might seem like overkill, but it’s not. People who track their calories and physical activities enjoy greater success losing weight and keeping it off for good!

Plus MyPlate offers free workouts that you can access on your phone anytime, from anywhere. Upgrade to Gold, and you can unlock even more free workouts specially designed by a top trainer.

Tracking everything honestly is essential to making the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge work for you. Sometimes you’re not even aware of everything you consume, but once you start tracking it, you’ll think twice before you make poor choices. And that’s a good thing.

With LIVESTRONG.COM’s free MyPlate Calorie Tracker — available on desktop and for iOS and Android devices — you can track it all:

  • Daily meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and snacks
  • Exercise and activity
  • Weight
  • Water/hydration
  • BMI (Body Mass Index)

2. Print Out Your Daily Calendar

Isn't it so satisfying to check things off of your to-do list? Each day during the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge, you're accountable for five key steps: tracking breakfast, lunch and dinner; tracking your water intake; and either walking or running.

We created a helpful calendar to keep you on task for all 30 days. Print it out and check off each activity as soon as you complete it.

Print out your calendar!
Print out your calendar! Photo Credit: Gracie Wilson/LIVESTRONG.COM

3. Stay Connected on Facebook

For daily support, motivation and camaraderie with LIVESTRONG.COM team members, join our Facebook Group for the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge. We'll share recipes, tips, motivations, pictures and more! Plus, we'll answer all your questions.More About How to Squash Your Cravings

4. Learn More About Controlling Your Cravings

Readers — Are you joining us in the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge? If so, what's your weight-loss goal? Have you ever done a weight loss challenge group before? How did it go? Have you joined our LIVESTRONG.COM Challenge Group on Facebook? Leave a comment below and let us know.


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