Do you often feel like you have no control when it comes to certain foods? Once a craving strikes, do you feel like you have no choice but to give into it? A craving is defined as a “powerful desire for something” and most often we associate food with cravings.
Cravings can be our body’s way of telling us that we are lacking certain nutrients or triggered by our emotions and environment. If dealing with the latter, it is important to realize that you can control cravings. The first step is to ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” When was the last time you ate? If it was less than 20 minutes ago, then you’re probably not really hungry.
Cravings can seem intolerable, but the less we give into them, the less frequent they become.
If you can distract yourself from the desire to eat and instead get involved in an activity, you will find that the craving subsides. The key is to find distractions.
Here are five creative ways to manage your food cravings.
What are you feeling at this moment? Are you truly hungry or are you tired, bored, and restless? Determining what is actual hunger can help you decide if you should eat or not. Journaling also helps if you are trying to identify if the craving is triggered by an emotion (aka emotional eating). Often we eat because we want to distract ourselves from an uncomfortable feeling. It is far better to just name that feeling and figure out what triggered it. Furthermore, spending the time writing about how you are feeling can help distract you. Even if you do not know what you are feeling at the moment, just take at least 10 minutes to write whatever comes to mind.
Turn on the music and move your body. It doesn’t have to look good; dance like no one is watching. The average length of a song is 3 minutes and 30 seconds, while the average craving lasts only 3 minutes. Therefore, your craving will have diminished by the time the sound ends.
We all know that meditation reduces stress, but did you know stress is linked to higher level of cortisol which causes weight gain? If we take even just a few minutes to meditate we will reduce our stress while focusing on something else rather than our cravings. If when you meditate your mind starts to wander, acknowledge the thought and return to your breath. Meditation is about focusing on your breath and not let your thoughts distracts you. In the time it takes to meditate the craving will pass.
There is a reason adult coloring books have become so popular recently. Coloring is actually very meditative and soothing. It can be a great way to distract yourself and focus on something other than food.
Tackle that to-do list.
Sometimes we turn to food when we want to avoid tasks that we don’t feel like doing. It’s a way of procrastinating. Next time a craving hits, break out that list of things that need to get done and start doing them. By the time you’re finished with the task, your craving should have passed and you will feel better all around.
What other ways can you think of to combat cravings that will fit into your daily routine? Take some time before your next craving hits to come up with your own list. You are the expert of your own body and you know what works best for you. The key is to experiment and come up with a list of ideas before the craving strikes; while you are still thinking clearly. Once the craving hits, it can become increasingly difficult to think of anything else. Share your own ideas in the comments below.
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