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How To Beat Food Cravings

May 5th, 2017

Beat Food Cravings

It’s 4pm and you are going about your day, just as you normally would then bang! You must have a double choc brownie, now!! A sense of urgency comes over you, you feel uncomfortable, irritable and distracted from what you were doing a minute earlier. Perhaps a slight sweat is starting to break out, a sense of panic about where you are going to get a brownie from, right now!!

Welcome to the (not so) wonderful world of food cravings!

Almost everyone has experienced a food craving at some stage, so rest assured you are not alone. There is no single concrete reason for food cravings but any physiological reasons have been ruled out by research thus far. Food cravings are thought to be a result of habits formed over time: a behaviour that has been practiced over and over again. An emotional link is also expected to play a role in their cause.

The good news is that a food craving doesn’t last forever. It will pass after no longer then 30 minutes. So providing you wait long enough it is possible to ‘ride it out’.

It is unrealistic to expect that food cravings are not going to occur, they will, and perhaps quite often. It is therefore not helpful to try and fight them or pretend they don’t exist. To achieve sustainable weight loss you must learn how to manage them or ‘ride’ them out, as we will discuss in this module.

Lets start by identifying your triggers of food cravings. Being aware of triggers is a crucial step to riding out a craving because unless you can see it coming, its going to take you by surprise, giving you little time to compose yourself and prepare for the ride.

Triggers may be related to environment, emotions or associations between different settings/people/activities. Some common triggers include:

  • Being at the movies and craving a choc top
  • Sitting on the couch watching TV and craving chips
  • Ordering a coffee and craving cake
  • Feeling stressed and craving chocolate

A food craving is going to get stronger before it gets better. A craving can be compared to the formation of a wave at the beach. The wave will gradually build as it gets closer to shore before eventually reaching its peak at which point it will come crashing down to nothing. Food cravings are exactly the same and it can be helpful to picture yourself riding or surfing a wave as you are experiencing a food craving. This coping strategy is called “surfing the urge” or “riding the wave”.

Here are some practical suggestions of how you can surf the urge:

  • Make a playlist on your phone of your favourite up beat songs and listen to this music when you recognise a trigger and the craving starts to form
  • Practice mindfulness meditation by internalising your thoughts, focusing on feelings and sensations in your body, focusing on your breath. As the craving builds, intensify your focus until you ride it out.
  • ‘Watch’ the craving as though you step out of your body and watch it from the outside. With your eyes closed, visualise your breath, your fingers, arms, toes and legs. Continue focusing your attention on this until the craving passes.

6 Simple Steps To Beat Food Cravings

It is helpful to know your triggers. Take a moment now to think about and write down what your food craving triggers are. Consider what is generally associated with your cravings including any common thoughts and feelings.

Once you have identified your triggers, you can then follow these steps to help you surf the urge successfully in your trigger situation:

Step 1Identify the trigger
Step 2Take time out in a quite, non-distracting environment if possible
Step 3Identify where you feel the urge the strongest (such as stomach or the mind)
Step 4Focus your attention and concentrate your breath on this area (identified in previous step)
Step 5Visualise yourself surfing the wave
Step 6Continue until the urge passes and congratulate yourself on your efforts