Lots of us struggle with cravings.
There is also a lot of BS written about them, for example, craving chocolate really means that you are deficient in magnesium!
Craving crisps means you are dehydrated (Yes, I’m not joking, found on a website!!) and so on….
One of the main reasons we crave certain foods is because we are psychologically driven to seek out high calorie foods.
Another reason is that we are constantly bombarded with messages/adverts for these foods everywhere we go.
On the TV, the bus, the tube, on billboards, I bet you most of us see multiple messages every day.
Of course, we can also crave things because we are bored, or stressed, or emotional.
What can we do about it?
1) Understand the Cues:
We know how habits work; cue, craving, respond, reward.
You see a cookie, you want the cookie, you eat the cookie, you feel better because your brain gives you a nice dopamine response = you learn that cookies make you feel better!
2) Change the Response:
This takes work.
Lots of mindfulness and awareness, but if you understand the cue then you can change the response.
Say it’s 10am in the office and you’re feeling peckish, perhaps you are bored but whatever the reason, this is your cue.
You start to crave the cookie (or whatever).
Recognise the cue and change the response, busy your mind and/or body with something else.
Maybe take a short break and have a little walk round the office, play a quick game on your phone, chat with a colleague, find some more challenging task to focus on.
3) Surf the Urge:
Notice the craving and name it – acknowledge that you are really craving the cookie right now.
Sit with it, notice as you just sit with it, that it peaks and then dies away.
The craving does not build and build until you are running all over frantically searching for cookies.
4) Ask yourself, Are you really hungry?
If you are really hungry then is there another option that would suit your eating goals better than the cookie?
Something with some fibre, water and micronutrients, like a piece of fruit?
Something that will fill you up better than a cookie? Maybe a protein bar?
5) Journal your cravings:
- Where are you when you get the craving?
- What has happened/ What are you doing?
- What are you craving?
- Can you pinpoint why?
This way you can learn to be hyper-aware of when cravings are likely to strike.
Perhaps for you it is mid-afternoon, does this mean that this time of day is when you should schedule in a nice, satisfying snack?
Is it the evening when you are watching TV? What can you plan to help you with that? Maybe something like popcorn or some chopped fruit?
If you create a journal of awareness you are better placed to change your responses.
6) If you really want it, you should have it:
Remember, you have unconditional permission to eat whatever food you want.
When you are being truly intuitive with your eating, you will know if you really want the cookie.
If you decide to have it, then have the real thing.
Eat it slowly, mindfully, savour every mouthful.
Check in with yourself continually, are you still hungry? Can you stop at one cookie? Or even half?
Enjoy the cookie without guilt.
Beware so called ‘healthy’ alternatives, often they are almost as many calories and not nearly as nice.
What is the point of eating avocado mousse with all the calories and fat when you really want chocolate mousse?