How to beat food cravings [A Guide to Mindful Eating]

Beating Food Cravings with Mindful Eating

Food cravings happen to basically everyone. They can be psychological habits we form over time, a result of vitamin deficiencies or even be caused by an imbalance of hormones or serotonin. Unfortunately, most cravings are for processed foods that are high in salt, sugar or unhealthy fats.

In this article, we will go through the steps of mindful eating so you can understand your food craving triggers and how to overcome them. 

Step 1: Recognising the cravings

At the peak of your urge to fulfil the craving, hone in on where you are feeling it. Cravings can be felt in your head, stomach, throat and chest. Your mouth might be watering, or you could be picturing a particular food with all of its scents and textures. Take note of all the physical sensations you experience and how they affect your craving. Is there a burning sensation in your stomach or a tightness in your throat? Does it dissipate or become overwhelming the longer you crave food? 

Knowing a food craving and differentiating from genuine hunger or thirst is one of the first steps to successfully beating cravings.

Step 2. Understanding the cravings

Food cravings are often a psychological response to an emotional stressor. If you’ve just had some bad news, the first thing you might do is reach for the nearest sugary treat. As the first step to beating your food cravings, it is important to understand why you are craving these foods. 

Some of the reasons why you may be experiencing food cravings are: 

  • You’re dehydrated
  • Experiencing stress
  • Undereating or are on a restrictive diet
  • Not receiving the nutrients you need from the meals you are eating
  • You’re bored
  • Have a chemical imbalance

Boredom (or mindless eating) is one of the biggest contributors to food cravings as often when we eat we are also watching TV, responding to emails or scrolling on social media. When we indulge in mindless snacking, our body doesn’t always register that we have eaten and minutes later we are craving more.  By making yourself aware of your cravings and why you are craving them, you are taking the first step towards mindful eating. 

Step 3. Overcoming the craving

When you feel a food craving coming on, instead of rushing to the pantry, take some time out and focus on these mindful distraction techniques.

  • What can you see, hear and smell? 
  • What is the room temperature? 
  • Take long deep breaths
  • Refresh yourself with slow sips of cool water
  • Go for a short walk around the block
  • Smell some flowers
  • Put on some music
  • Talk it out with a friend or colleague
  • Make a cup of herbal tea

Even just this mindfulness in a matter of minutes will help to distract you from the craving and put it aside or change your choice to something healthy. 

Step 4. Eat Mindfully 

In addition to meditation and becoming aware of your craving, start eating mindfully. Be aware of where you are eating, when you are eating and what you are eating and create new healthy habits, such as eating dinner at a set time at the dining room table with family and no phones. 

It’s important that we eat regularly and slowly to stay fuller for longer and curb cravings. When food cravings do occur, it’s important to have healthy alternatives ready to go and that allow treats in moderation. Sometimes it is a good idea to remove your go-to craving food completely for the time being and reintroduce it in small amounts when comfortable. 

Getting Started 

Remember to congratulate yourself each time you beat a craving. Overcoming food cravings is not easy or something you will succeed at instantly, but keep at it. At Winnett Specialist Group, we want you to know you are not alone and we have a team of bariatric specialists including nutritionists who are able to help develop strategies and get you on a healthier track. Get in touch with us to book an appointment.