How to beat food cravings.
It’s time to rethink how you look at your food cravings and what you need to do to beat them.
I’ve always seen food cravings, and in particular regular strong cravings as a sign that you need to interpret rather than ignore. I read a really interesting article by Psychologist Dr Kiera Buchanan which discussed this very thing. She compares food cravings to a baby crying. A mother listens to her baby’s cries and tries to ascertain what it needs – is the baby hungry? Perhaps the baby is tired, or maybe it just needs a little comforting. While many people know that they emotionally eat, they believe they should simply be able to resist the urge to give into food cravings. Giving into your cravings then leaves feelings of guilt and anger.
However, cravings aren’t something simply to be ignored. Just as when a baby cries, you need to assess the situation and respond appropriately. Sometimes you may need to take action, or sometimes, there may be no pressing need and it will pass (just like a baby who will self soothe)
The next time you have food cravings, instead of simply trying to resist, try and understand why you’re having them. Here’s some pointers on how to beat food cravings.
Think about what you need
Are you hungry? Are you tired? Are you bored? When you’re craving food, first assess (without judgement) how you’re feeling. Is it this food you really need or is it something else? Consider this and respond appropriately.
Sit it out
Often delaying cravings or finding a distraction be good techniques for beating cravings. If not, then one of the steps below may help.Sometimes when we’re talking food at work (which is quite often!) I’ll think “Ohh yum that sounds good, I could eat one of those right now”. But then I’ll get on with my work and the craving will pass.
Is it emotional?
Emotions can be a trigger for food cravings as a method of providing some comfort. However, emotional eating rarely makes anyone feel better long term. In fact, most of the time you feel worse afterwards. If your food cravings are emotional, learn to sit with your feelings and think of another way to help deal with how you’re feeling. Play your favourite music, have a hot drink, ring a friend – find what works for you.
Are you dieting?
Dieting rarely works long term and often leads to a poor relationship with food. If you’re dieting and consistently avoiding the foods you love is likely to lead to cravings. Quit the diets, learn to enjoy a little of the things you love in the context of a healthy diet.
Are you balanced?
I often see people with strong cravings who overly restrict their food intake during the day. They might have some fruit for breakfast followed by a salad and tuna for lunch, then by the time they get to mid afternoon they’re so hungry they end up with sugar cravings. I generally try and include a small serve of protein and/or healthy fats with each meal as well as healthy carbohydrate for a balanced meal that keeps me satisfied.