How to control your cravings

‘Oooh I could really go/smash/scoff a <insert vice here>.’

We’ve all said it because we’ve all had cravings.

Cravings are expressions of normal human needs.

Through years of conditioning, cravings can be so influential that they render us vulnerable to poor choices, over and over again.

As stress mounts, the need exaggerates. The lure of perceived pleasure becomes too much to bear.

Consequently, our self-control can disappear faster than a packet of Tim Tams in a Survivor tribe.

There are obvious cravings like junk food, smoking, alcohol, smart phones or gambling. The damaging effects of which are well known.

Then there are more subtle desires we see in others (but often overlook in ourselves) like a craving for control or status.

Whatever the craving, building self-discipline is vital to overcoming it.

Where self-discipline starts

The usual human response is to give in to temptation.

It’s like entering a mosh pit where the mind cares only about the moment, not the potential consequences.

But it’s up on the balcony that we can see everything that’s happening; the band, the crowd, the guy getting thrown out by security.

We need space and time to reflect on a situation and be strategic with our next move.

Although the thought of excess can seem enticing, higher goals like mental and physical health require discipline.

So, how can we tame the powerful, singular thought moshing in our mind when a craving takes hold?


Mindfulness allows us to choose between stimulus and response.

Whatever the temptation we need time to catch ourselves before we act on that craving.

Simple breathing techniques like the 4, 7, 8 method give us that time.

They create the space between our craving and our actions where we are presented with our choice of response. This is called the Event Thought Reaction model.

This model fits most of life’s situations; from parenting and work problems to traffic jams and junk food cravings.

A little bit of mindfulness practised daily helps you reach for your big goal, not your Chiko Roll (do you like that one?).

If you’re craving more articles by Resilience Builders’ founder Dr. David Buttifant, visit our blog.

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