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Everyone experiences cravings from time to time. However, if a craving doesn’t come from hunger, you’ll never be satisfied from eating because you are not truly craving physical nourishment.
Exploring what triggered your desire to eat in the first place is the key to banishing most of the cravings you experience on a day to day basis. Use the following hacks to help you figure out where your desire to eat is coming from and confront them accordingly.
Once you master the following techniques, you’ll notice that when you are actually physically hungry, your cravings will lean toward healthy foods more often than they will junk foods!
1. STOP SAYING “I don’t deserve it” OR “I can’t have that”! When you say I don’t deserve or I can’t have a certain food you are putting it on a pedestal. When something or someone is on a pedestal, you want it even more. Your fear of missing out kicks in and you begin to pine over it. Eventually, your crappy day at work, fight with a spouse or the tantrum from your 4-year-old will get the best of you. You will go from “I don’t deserve this food” to “I’ve had a shitty day, eaten healthy all week, I have put in the work to deserve this food.” Or, “life sucks right now, so I deserve this food.”
Instead say “I can have that whenever I darn well please”.
This will remove the food’s allure. You’ll eat it to satisfaction, then realize the food has either satisfied your hunger or made you sick and stop. You go on with your life not thinking about it. No willpower needed.
2. MAKE EATING AN INDEPENDENT ACTIVITY. Okay, I realize this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this, but seriously- if you eat the entire bag of chips while driving, working on your computer or watching TV, you’re going to get to the bottom of the bag and wish you had more. If you set the intention to make eating a distinct activity and serve yourself one portion, you are priming yourself to notice the way foods taste and feel in your body. This will make the activity of eating more pleasurable (and insightful). I had a client who told me that after she committed to eating her lunch without multitasking, she discovered that she didn’t even LIKE drive through food! She had always assumed this was sinfully delicious food since it was forbidden on most diets, she just never took the time to notice whether those foods were truly satisfying for her.
3. NOTICE HOW FOOD FEELS IN YOUR BODY. Once you’ve practiced eating without distraction, the second step is to notice the way different foods react in your body. Do you feel tired and sluggish after eating a meal filled with simple carbs? Do you get heartburn after a large spicy fat-laden meal? Does your energy spike and make you feel ready to take on the afternoon when you eat non-processed whole foods?
After eating anything, take the next hour to notice what you’re feeling physically and emotionally. Many times I find that eating a small piece of my Grandmother’s homemade pie allows me to feel satisfied and like I participated in the entire meal rather than refusing the pie and feeling like I missed out and go home looking for satisfaction in an entire jar of peanut butter. Likewise, I usually pass on coffee shop pastries because they make me feel tired, give me brain fog and reduce my productivity.
4. ASK, WHAT DO I WANT TO ACCOMPLISH BY EATING THIS? Be honest with yourself. Are you eating because you are hungry and looking for nourishment? Are you bored and need something to do? Are you in need of a break from studying, kid-rearing or working like a freakin’ dog at work? If your answer is anything but “I’m hungry and I need to fill my stomach”, that’s a key sign that you should find a new way to satisfy yourself emotionally.
I recently had a very hard workout at the gym. My energy was depleted and I needed rest. My brain started suggesting a Chai tea latte from my local coffee shop. When I took a second to ask why I was craving this high sugar, caffeinated beverage, I realized that what my body really needed was an energy re-charge in the form of rest. I put my head down for 15 minutes and closed my eyes. It rejuvenated me and kept me from turning to stimulants to provide temporary energy. I then made sure that I got into bed at a decent hour that night. Solutions can be simple; they just take a little bit of ‘tuning in’ to really understand what your body’s needs are.
5. PRACTICE HEALTHY RITUALS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH FOOD. Have you ever noticed that when you practice certain healthy rituals, you naturally gain the desire to continue these rituals in every aspect of your life? For instance, when I committed to start flossing on a regular basis, I naturally brushed my teeth more thoroughly than before. When I began using essential oils to help me cleanse my system I wanted to use healthier, non-toxic products throughout my house. When I began a regular exercise routine, I didn’t feel like eating a fast food burrito afterwards- I wanted clean, healthy food that would fuel my body for recovery, fat cell shrinkage and muscle building. Try implementing healthy habits and see how your food choices follow suit. You’ll be amazed at how your cravings for chips and chocolate fall away effortlessly without a second thought.
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