Updated: Aug 4, 2020
Cravings are never bad. It is your body's way of telling you that you need something. The problem is that in most cases, that need is not actually satisfied with food, or at least not long term - and then it becomes a habit.
In order to restore balance to feed the need, I often need to go deep with my clients - both from a physiological, psychological, and emotional point of view. This is how we make the shift long term, However, we all want results in the short term too, am I right?
Here are some simple steps you can take to manage your cravings and avoid mindlessly bingeing on food (when you deep down don't want to).
Be open and try these techniques to figure out what may work (better) for you.
1. Forget 'willpower'.
Willpower in itself is not enough. Instead, learn to be in control of your actions. The first, most simple step is to make sure you don’t get hungry, so eat regular meals.
2. Identify and write down your triggers
Are they emotional triggers? Food triggers? Habits? Triggers in certain places or situations? Identifying what your triggers help you take control of them and change the outcome. What is it that you need? What strategies can you put in place now to support yourself?
3. Get rid of your trigger foods
If you don't have control of a food then it is controlling you. If it triggered a binge in the past, it will do so again. Get rid of it and don't buy it – for you or your family. It's OK to throw away food that is bad for you. It is not a waste.
4. Plan what you are going to eat in advance
This is so important. Eventually, your healthy eating will become second nature, but you need to support yourself until your new habits are firmly in place.
5. Identify crave/binge thoughts
To take control, you need to be ready to respond to these with a more positive alternative. Here are some examples:
"I'm so stressed" – being miserable because I'm fatter won't help.
"I had far too many biscuits, I may as well just keep going" – that's in the past now, rescue the rest of the day.
"I've been really good. I deserve a reward" – being slim and in control is my best reward.
"I've got PMS. I need chocolate" – eating sugar will make me feel worse.
"One slice is not too bad" – but I know it'll end up being 4 slices!
6. Choose to eat or not
"A biscuit would be nice but I choose not to have one right now".
Don't take orders from a packet of biscuits! Choosing puts you back in control. Remember, the responsibility is yours. You are the one who puts food in your mouth, even if it sometimes feels as though it is out of your control, it never is.
7. Develop short, key phrases to help you make new choices
The more you use a phrase, the more it becomes a part of what you now do, so develop phrases such as "Don't start, don't get the taste" or “I actually don’t want this” or “I am not hungry, so I will not eat for the moment”. Creating a mental picture can also help, e.g. visualising yourself slamming a cupboard door on the unhealthy foods you are now choosing to avoid. Practise this until it becomes second nature.
8. Create a list of non-food activities
If you get a crave/ binge thought, do something else (paint your nails, go for a walk, clean out the fridge, put on some music, write a letter, for example). Simply giving yourself a few moments may relieve the pressure and stop the chain reaction. Find something that works for you, write these down to reinforce them and commit to doing them.
9. Accept, let go, and move on
Unless you are superhuman, there will be the odd time that you slip and have more than you should. Slim people overindulge too – but they don’t beat themselves up about it. They just go back to eating normally. Remember, the occasional slice of cake or a portion that is too big is not going to make you put on a few pounds, but a huge binge will. Plus, binges on sugary or salty food will make you retain water – making you look and feel heavier than you really are. It's just not worth it. If you have a slip you can still rescue the situation and stop it turning into a binge, sabotaging all your good work. Say: "It's done, it's in the past and I choose to move on". Reaffirm your resolve to make a different choice next time.
10 Practice and repeat
...until your newfound control feels completely normal, which it will! It takes at least 21 days to introduce a new habit but perhaps more like 2 to 3 months to actually stick with it.
The beauty though is that you have the rest of your life to work on this - I personally find this very encouraging as it is never too late to try something new.
To help you actually put some of these action steps into place I am have created my very own Mindful Eating 7-Day Crash Course - delivered as an email course with daily teachings and action steps and a free recipe e-book that you're going to love!
Lots of love,