Three tips for beating cravings
Cravings - we all have them and they can test the even steeliest resolve. Whether you're trying to shift a few pounds or give your diet a healthy makeover, cravings can throw a real spanner in the works. While we may be able to resist the siren song of the sugary cereal at breakfast when we're feeling rested and optimistic about the day, it's much harder to say no to the stodgy takeaway after a long, hard day at work.
Willpower is usually called upon to help beat cravings, but if the source of the craving isn't addressed it's likely to just keep coming back. Cravings aren't just random stumbling blocks sent by the universe to throw you off course, they have a root cause and they can be dealt with in a more productive and effective way than either willpower or delving into the biscuit tin! The next time you're hit by the desire to raid the fridge try these first:
1. Check your body
It sounds obvious but if you're hungry then you'll get cravings! Being tired and run down produces the same effect. Your body is wired to demand the quickest and easiest route to feeling reinvigorated and energised, so instead of a fresh salad or home-made soup you'll crave sugar, fat and refined carbohydrates.
If you're hit with a craving first ask yourself when you last ate. If you've been dining on cappuccinos and chewing gum for breakfast and lunch then don't be surprised if you're phoning your local pizza place by dinner. Make yourself a balanced, healthy meal, one that includes plenty of protein, complex carbs and fat, with a sizeable portion of colourful veg on the side. Try a chicken or steak stir-fry for a super quick and easy meal (it'll be ready long before the pizza delivery would've arrived!), and make your portion one that will actually fill you up. Drink some water or herbal tea too, as dehydration is often mistaken for hunger.
Are you tired? Eating a balanced meal will help with this too, but give yourself a break if at all possible. Have a nap if you can, and if not have an early night. Lack of sleep is massive factor in gaining excess weight and in poor health overall.
2. Check your boredom
Are you simply in need of some entertainment? It might come as a surprise to realise that you've been using food to relieve boredom, but many of us do reach for the cake when we're at a loss. Try something that will meet that need in a more productive way. Get out for a walk, preferably in a green space if you can. Studies have shown that just being around trees helps lower stress and boost your mood. Read a book or watch a film, something you really enjoy, and just lose yourself in another world. The more you address your boredom with real entertainment, the less you'll experience those cravings when you really just need something to do.
3. Check your emotions
Do you "eat your feelings"? Is your first instinct when you feel sad/lonely/afraid to hit the fridge? Instead, just sit for a moment and draw your attention to your breathing. Then look inside yourself, how are you feeling, really, and what can you do to address that? Do you need to call your best friend and have a good chat/cry, or maybe book a massage to look forward to? You could try journalling, just getting a stream of conciousness down on paper can help. Maybe you just need to acknowledge those feeling and allow them to be, without trying to suffocate them with food.
Taking care of yourself, mentally, physically and emotionally, will stop cravings in their tracks before they've begun. There's nothing wrong with indulging now and then, just make sure that you're not masking something deeper.
Some people may find hypnotherapy helpful to stop cravings and help maintain a healthy weight.