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How to deal with chocolate cravings

By Matt O'Neill, MSc(Nut&Diet), APD

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What should you do when you get a craving for chocolate? Here's a stack of hands-on tips and tactics from the people who responded to our SmartShape Survey. Thanks guys!!!

What can I eat instead of chocolate?

The options below with an asterix * are not really a better choice than chocolate.

  • A glass of water or cup of tea

  • Chocalate coated musli bar*

  • Chocolate protein shakes. They taste so bad they actually put you off the real thing.

  • A chocolate bar that tastes like chocolate, but is low in fat and sugar.*

  • Cadbury Lite (but only comes in 100g block)*

  • Chew chewing gum - it keeps your mind off snacks!

  • Diet hot chocolate drink

  • Something salty eg olives, sundried tomatoes etc can take away a sweet craving.

  • Low fat chocolate muffins.*

  • Naturally sweet things like sultanas and mix with nuts.

  • Milo drink*

  • Banana

  • Almonds help to curb cravings.

  • Eat a piece of fruit.

  • A small bag of potato chips will equally satisfy the craving!*

  • Eat a protein bar with choclolate coating - at least you get some protein as well!*

  • Flavoured yoghurt satisfies my cravings.*

  • Frozen Mejdool dates eaten straight from the freezer, they taste just like toffee and are so sweet that you can only eat one or two.

  • Eat fruit instead. I started to wean myself from sweets when hungry by having small snack packs of fruit handy. I do not usually have these around so it seemed like a treat at the time. I find eating something savoury eg dried chickpea snacks gets me out of fancying something sweet

  • Eat well during the day, have sugar in your coffee/tea or honey which makes your beverage a bit sweeter.

  • I sometimes have a dry biscuit with Nutella or a hot chocolate with "Perkins" milk and I must admit I love a couple of marshmellows on it with a bit of froth on top I figure I get a bit of calcium with this I think it's more the suger fix I like! What do you reacon?*
Tips for eating chocolate in moderation
  • Get the best, most expensive quality chocolate in a single morsel only. The quality satisfies the quantity craved for and the cost makes you think twice!

  • Eat Mars Lite bars! The fun-size ones, of course!

  • If you can control the amount you eat then to have chocolate isn't a crime.

  • Buy it with someone, so that you have to share.

  • Keep other types of snacks available so that when you get a chocolate craving you can eat something else other than chocolate.

  • Eat it with something else.

  • Choose a 10g bar of cadbury's milk chocolate stick. Because this is the size, you feel you have eaten the whole thing - which you have - and not just a bit and the rest is sitting in the fridge....just waiting.

  • Put your chocolate stash in the freezer because it takes longer to eat when frozen so one small square satisfies those cravings but with a much smaller portion = fewer calories and by stashing chocies in the freezer chances are the rest of the family won't find them and you will have more all to yourself!!!

  • Buy fun size packs and that way when i get a craving i am only indulging 20-30g at any one time. Start a block and I have to eat the whole lot!

  • I break up the block into 2 pieces at a time so that is all I need to take to satisfy the craving.

  • I don't want to stop the taste for chocolate, I enjoy it so much. So we limit when, and how much, we buy. So most weeks we don't have chocolate in the house, and when we do, we limit how much we eat at a time. Normally we have it with our hot drink after our dinner in the evening - and we regard it as a treat! Party time is different however.

  • I only have a small piece of a choc chip cookie to satisfy getting a taste and that's enough.

  • Ask yourself if the craving is really just for something sweet and whether a piece of fruit might do just as well. Wait until afternoon tea or dessert to indulge the chocolate craving. That way you've had the better part of the day to consume the foods your body needs first. See eating chocolate as an indulgence and enjoy it for what it is whilst exercising the same restraint you would towards any other indulgence, eg alcohol. Avoid cheap chocolate - spending more will help remind you it's an indulgence and will most likely result in a more rewarding chocolate eating experience! If you really need a chocolate hit, go for high cocoa content, eg more than 50% cocoa as is found in most dark chocolate. Most chocolate bars contain more sugar than cocoa.

  • Keep amount eaten small, and really savour the taste and texture, go for a good quality pure chocolate.

  • Get the best quality chocolate you can afford. It feels like more of an indulgence, plus the chocolate is usually richer, and you tend to be satisfied with less. I find that if I eat cheap crappy chocolate, I eat more because it feels like it doesn't count as much because my taste isn't satisfied properly. Bring on the Lindt!

  • The best way to deal with chocolate cravings I have found is to buy mini-sized chocolate bars (eg milky ways). They are a solution to the "I'll just have a little bit", while longingly looking at the rest of the block and finding yourself giving in one minute later. You need a bit of willpower to think that you don't need more, but you will find that just this small amount curbs the craving, and you don't have to feel guilty.

  • Buy a small amount of lite chocolate once a week and have that but limit yourself to only that.

  • If you're going to have it, go for quality rather than quantity.
Tips to help work out your cravings
  • You need to figure out WHY you want the chocolate - if it is because you really want it, then you should eat it. If it's because you're depressed, or stressed, or doing it out of habit, then you need to look for other alternatives, whether it be other food choices, or other activities. Alternatively, trying to deal with the reasons for stress/depression etc is an even better place to start!!

  • A 'craving' doesn't have to turn into a 'binge'. If you're eating a heap of chocolate and calling it a craving you MUST look at the emotional condition that is driving it. A craving relates to taste or nutritional needs, overeating relates to mental/emotional needs that should be addressed.

  • Look at how you are feeling, what state you are in, and how familiar is this feeling. Without judgement, instead with curiosity and respect, look at the trigger of the craving. If it's psychological, work with your Weight Management Coach to look for alternative options, if it's because you fancy some chocolate, then just EAT IT!

  • I find that if I dont eat it AT ALL, EVER, then I actually dont crave it . (New Years Eve is a great time to give it up!!) I can get past a small craving by just smelling a wrapper. Cold turkey is the only way!!

  • Don't ever feel guilty about it. That's got to be worse, i.e. the stress of guilt, than any food can ever be, take control and decide what it is we feel bad about and deal with that, is it because we feel a chocolate bar has control over us or because you have thwarted a nutritional goal, or weightloss goal - in whatever case - deal with that causative factor- in case of thwarting weight loss goals maybe then stay off cheese, butter and other high fat foods the next day so to help balance it out and/or compensate by doing extra exercise, or justifying by having done more exercise that day...i.e. still all within our control to balance whatever negative effects we decide the chocolate has.

  • Eat it when you have a strong craving, as if you don't you usually eat far more than you normally would have. If I satisfy the craving, I find that it will decrease the craving for the rest of the week

  • I have less cravings and tend to eat less chocolate less if I know I have easy access to it. I have a stash at work so that I can have a small bite rather than hanging out to get to the supermarket and end up eating too much. Works for me and this also helped me stop smoking - I kept a packet of cigarettes on hand for about 6 months!

  • Maybe the trick would be to incorporate chocolate portions into a diet so that there is no need to feel as if you are missing out on chocolate. This would then stop the cravings. Maybe this would then rule out the feeling you are being sneaky, and then once you have had the chocolate, the guilt feelings that take over and make you feel as if you have been weak and failed miserably.

  • If you've been good dietarty wise most of the week then I don't see its a major issue. If it happens every day then you have to look at healthier substitutes or try and analise why you're doing that every day. There may be other issues besides the craving.

  • Just don't stress about it, if you are eating well and your vitamin intake is good and your metabolism is good then you are balanced and a couple of squares of chocolate will do you no harm as your body won't need to store it for later. No need to stress just enjoy but don't fill up on it.

  • I find that if I "give in" to my craving and have some chocolate, I don't have another craving for about a month. The times I have not "given in", the craving became stronger and stronger until I gorged myself with chocolate

  • When me and my mum were trying to lose weight we would sit there and list all of the tings we wanted from Magnums to hot choclates to fish and chips etc, by the time we finished listing all of the things we wanted we were over the original craving and feeling better as we had not only defeted the craving we had proved how great our will power was by talking about what we had the power not to eat.
More great words of wisdom
  • Call yourself a chocolate lover? - not if you're eating chocolate with less than 70% cocoa mass.

  • If your body asks for it, have it.

  • If it is in the house it cannot be ignored, therefore don't buy it in the first place!

  • I find that if it's part of my routine to eat chocolate on shopping night then I don't usually crave it on other days. I have my weekly fix.

  • Ask my partner for a hug. "Just as satisfing." Try it!

  • I view chocolate as pure lard and visulise it going down my throat to my hipsand ass before I see it stimulating my brain, That can stop me eating it a majority of the times.

  • Dont feel guilty about having just one bite and throwing away the rest of it

  • I am very busy as a personal trainer and I usually eat chocolate early afternoon before a workout. My tip to clients is to not deny yourself. Allocate a time of the week when you allow yourself to do it and enjoy it. Outside that time you must walk a couple of km extra to pay for the splurge.

  • Convince yourself you have to exercise first to have your chocolate without guilt feelings. Frequently, after the exercise the craving has gone away.

  • I hae found exercise to be really efficient, especially (yes, I know this sounds awful, but it works for me!) swimming in cold water, then jumping into a hot spa afterwards. The cold/hot change is invigorating for your entire body and makes you feel very refreshed afterwards!

  • Not have a cafe next door to your business and downstairs from your house.

  • Go for a walk ( dont take any money with you!!) or to the gym.

  • I have found that low carb manages my cravings for all foods really well. (I used to be a donut addict). It's just getting past the first 3 days when your metabolism is switching over from a glucose burning to a fat burning metabolism that sucks!

  • Buy the best and buy small amounts. As my mum always says: A taste is a feast!

  • Just eat it and work through your day..dont bludge..If you work hard as we were intended to do to maitain premium internal fitness we could eat chocolate all day if we want!!! Pretty bloody simple dont you think!!!

  • Changes have occurred since menopause - not as frequent, easier to manage. I just eat it when i 'need' to. not overweight, doesn't bother me that i have it. bad times i have more than i should, but don't feel guilty. think more often than not, guilt makes the choco crave worse. As you say Matt, 'build a bridge - get over it'.

  • Chocolate bars are much like men..they can be hard to resist at know they are no good for you.. they go straight to your hips... and you always end up regretting it :).



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