Health > Junk food cravings?

Junk food cravings? We’ve got your back

Cravings are pretty common when we make changes to our diet. It’s a classic response to telling ourselves we can’t have something! Here’s our top tips for dealing with cravings.

1. Investigate your craving

Cravings can make us uncomfortable, so our instinct is to fulfil them at once. Next time, try taking a minute to think about what you really want. Are you tired and looking for a pick-me-up? Are you genuinely hungry? Or bored? Try and meet the underlying need of the craving, rather than a using a Band-Aid solution. If you’re tired, a brisk walk is invigorating (especially in the cold weather!). If you’re hungry, eat something satisfying rather than junk food that will leave you peckish again in half an hour.

2. Distract yourself

If that craving is stubborn, try doing something to take your mind off it. Unlike true hunger, cravings pass. Here’s some ideas of things to do that are better for your health than eating junk food (obviously, this could be a very long list!). Try making a list of things that work for you, and refer to them if cravings strike.

  • Go for a walk
  • Phone or email a friend
  • Rearrange the furniture
  • Take a shower
  • Bake and freeze some healthy muffins
  • Make a list of interesting ideas for your Dry July fundraising
  • Listen to some music (dancing optional but strongly encouraged)
  • Change environments. Reading on the couch? Move to the back yard

3. More nourishing swaps

Swapping a carrot for a cookie is not very realistic. Here, we’ve tried to identify the core yumminess of some common junk foods (hint: sugar/fat/salt!), and suggest some more nutritious alternatives from the core food groups

Junk food

Key feature

Nourishing option


Gooey cheese, salty sauce

Toasted sandwich with cheese, tomato and mushroom


Sweet and creamy

Homemade hot chocolate or banana smoothie


Crunchy and salty

Homemade popcorn


Juicy and sweet

Grapes or berries

Soft drink

Cold and bubbly

Sparkling water with mint or a citrus twist


Cold and creamy

Homemade frozen yoghurt or blended frozen bananas


Sweet and crunchy

Toast with peanut butter and banana, a handful of nuts and dried fruit

Hot chips

Hot and crispy

Homemade wedges

Cakes and muffins

Soft and sweet

Raisin toast with cream cheese

4. A little of what you fancy

If you’ve decided to have the thing you crave, really savour it. Being more mindful when we eat makes it more satisfying. Sit at the table, turn screens off, breathe, chew, taste and take a break between bites. This can help you enjoy your food more, while eating less of it.

Written by Anne Finch

Anne Finch is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with a passion for food and kitchen craft. She has a Bachelor of Science (Human Science), a Bachelor of Science (Nutrition) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Dietetics. She has been working at Cancer Council WA in Australia since 2013 on a range of programs to help people all over the state eat well and be healthy.