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Summary – 

Hands up if you’ve ever experienced cravings at around 3:30pm?! Don’t worry, there’s a few science-backed reasons as to why this happens but more importantly, I’ve got a few quick fixes to ensure you’re able to take back some of that control.

Things I Mention – 

  • The most common reasons why we experience cravings at around 3pm
  • The science behind cravings and how to manage them long-term
  • My favourite sources of good-quality protein
  • How our menstrual cycle largely contributes to cravings & binge-eating 

PLUS, what to do & who to book an appointment with if you think there’s more to your cravings than what I discuss in this episode. 

Links & Helpful Resources – 

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Hands up if you’ve ever suffered through 3:30itis?! It’s a really common time of the day where cravings hit an all time high and you often find yourself either cradling the biscuit tin or opening & shutting the fridge door repeatedly until something other than fruit or veg catches your eye. I know I’ve been there, probably more times than not if I’m honest though these days I have some really good strategies that I use to ensure I don’t fall victim to 3:30itis every day of the week! 

I’ve done a decent amount of study & research into cravings and why we experience them in the first place. I’m also going to use my own personal experience here and give you some tips on how I’ve been able to turn such a vicious cycle around and stay somewhat in control of cravings now. First things first, the most common reason I’ve found is that food cravings are directly related to your previous food choices especially the cravings that show up at around 3.30pm. The good news though is that you can manage those cravings by following a few simple nutritional guidelines and we’re going to chat about them today.

One of the main strategies to deal with cravings and the one that I’ve had the most success with is to start your day with protein. The food choices you make at breakfast time should closely resemble those you’d make at lunch or dinner too. This means choosing a breakfast that includes a good dose of protein and better yet, a few veggies too! It might seem a bit odd to eat veggies first thing but that’s exactly what our bodies want & need. Food is fuel right and that’s all the human body wants – to be properfly fuelled to tackle whatever the day may bring. A breakie that is made-up of protein and some veg like tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach etc. is ideal. 

A few of my favourite sources of good-quality protein for breakfast are –

Naked Harvest Thrive Protein – I can’t decide which flavour I love more either Vanilla Shortbread and Peanut Butter Brownie but I love Thrive because not only is it plant-based with no hidden nasties but it is packed with fiber, adaptogens, superfoods, minerals for extra tummy love, increased energy, hormone balance, mental performance and immune protection. There’s no need for any additional supplements or powders with this one! 

Eggs – We eat a lot of eggs in this house, so much so that we now have 5x of our own chickens who provide us with 5xorganic eggs every single day. 

Loving Earth Paleo Mix – The problem with a lot granolas & cereals on the market is that they are packed full of added sugars. I like my sugars to come naturally from fruit so I choose granolas made only from ingredients that I recognise as whole foods and those without any artificial sweeteners or refined sugars.  Paleo Mix is my pick of the bunch. 

Some other really great sources of protein are –
Chia, Flaxseeds or Hemp Seeds, Natural Greek Yoghurt & Unsweetened Almond Milk.

A good hit of protein in the morning also helps to stabilise blood sugar levels and will keep you fuller for longer, which means you’ll be less likely to mindlessly snack throughout the day

My next strategy would be to stay hydrated. Thirst is a common cause of hunger which stems from being dehydrated. Throughout the day, if you’re starting to feel as though you could polish off an entire block of chocolate in 2 mins flat, have a glass of water. Nowhere near as fun I know but we often confuse thirst with hunger. If you know you had a really balanced lunch that included some protein, carbs & healthy fats, then chances are, you’re probably not hungry! 

Let’s talk now about cravings before that time of the month because they are an absolute beast but for good reason and personally, I feel that there isn’t enough people talking about women’s physiology and how cravings are strongly related to this. I also want to mention just quickly that if you are craving something in particular, generally you are craving something specific for a reason. Many people view cravings as weaknesses, but often, they’re really important messages from your body to guide you in maintaining homeostasis or in other words – a balanced body. 

As women, its common, its normal and its somewhat expected to experience severe cravings right before the arrival of our period – say 1 week out. There are a couple of reasons for this – 

  1. Our body requires more magnesium during this time which is why chocolate sits high on the list of food cravings because cacao is a brilliant source of magnesium and; 
  2. On average, our metabolic rate increases during the luteal phase of our menstrual cycle (the 2 weeks following ovulation) which means that we usually require 100 – 300 calories more per day during this time. A lot of women turn a blind eye to this though and continue to eat the same amount of calories or stick with their usual restricted diet. An extra 300 calories is a decent amount though and if this isn’t allowed for in the form of say an extra 1 or 2 pieces of fruit throughout the day then you’ll likely binge come the end of the day and end up consuming far more calories than just the extra 300 that your body needed in the first place. 

So to help manage these cravings, increase your intake of magnesium rich foods in the week leading up to your period – leafy greens, nuts, seeds & cacao and slightly increase the amount of calories you consume throughout the day to allow for this increase in metabolic rate. 

If you have a feeling though that your cravings are seriously off the charts, consider seeing a Naturopath to discuss the option of checking your magnesium levels and potentially taking a good-quality magnesium supplement or to find out if anything else is at play for you. 

Lastly, avoiding refined sugars when a craving hits is damn hard, so I aim to always have healthy alternatives available so I can fulfill a sweet tooth knowing that I won’t also suffer from the knock-on effect that occurs when both our brain and taste buds come into contact with refined sugars. Like I mentioned previously, your body is likely craving sweets for a reason so it makes sense to stock up on healthier treats rather than rather than deprive your body of what it really wants which almost always ends in an episode of binge eating. 

Ignoring cravings often makes them stronger, so the smart thing to do is to acknowledge the craving for what it is – your body is trying to tell you something and go about fulfilling those cravings in a healthier, more mindful way. 

So to close this episode, here is a wrap up of my top 5 tips for getting rid of 3pm snack cravings – 

  1. Consume protein at breakfast
  2. Stay hydrated
  3. Increase calories slightly in the lead up to your menstrual cycle – 1 to 2 weeks 
  4. Check your magnesium levels and consider taking a magnesium supplement
  5. Stock up on healthier alternatives to fulfill the craving

For more information about deconstructing cravings, I write about this in the Nutrition section of my eBook – The A to Z of Confidence. Jump on over to my website at www.elishacasagrande.com.au/shop to check this one out. It is jam-packed (174 pages to be exact) full of practical tips & tricks to feel, be and look your best!

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