These cravings can be split into 2 groups, psychological and physical.
These are desires and false needs that develop in the mind. This is where we start to imagine and fantasize about indulging in the craving.
The more we fantasize, the stronger the thoughts and feelings get
If for example you crave pizza, you can imagine walking into the pizza restaurant, seeing pizzas being removed from the oven on the large metal spatulas. You might imagine the last time a pizza was delivered, the excitement and joy when the doorbell finally chimed, the children rushing to the door with load voices. Then the moment when you open the box to check that the order is correct. You greedily untie the box fastening, open the box carefully as if it were Christmas morning! After the delivery person leaves, you carry the box into the kitchen or lounge, almost hugging it, resisting the temptation to keep sniffing the outside of the box…
Realize that these psychological cravings can only be based on fear or anxiety. Everything we do has a basis in either pursuing pleasure or avoiding pain. If we have unresolved personal pain or if we have conditioned ourselves to treat with unhealthy food when we feel sad or upset; we can lapse back into ‘junk food heaven’.
When we eat high carb food, we get an energy rush, we feel sharper and more positive even if just for a little while. Artificial additives have the same effect, the meeting of a small goal (the pizza has arrived!). Feeling food secure may as well be a historical throwback, such as after a good harvest before the winter. The real feel-good chemicals get released into our system, so we shouldn’t feel too bad about the phenomena.
Much of the food we eat can cause physical cravings. Any high sugar or white carb meals will create insulin spikes. The sugar high, then the sugar crash. When we are crashing we are tempted to eat more.
Without going into science here, some of the additives stimulate appetite (as well as cancer and other diseases). Monosodium glutamate and aspartame are 2 culprits. With increasing experimentation with new colors, flavorings, preservatives, genetically modified foods and so on, who knows what effects we are creating in our bodies?
In my experience, cravings are the biggest hurdle to any weight loss program. I have always found it relatively easy to increase my exercise regimes. Both in frequency and intensity.
Cravings are terrible. They can feel like emotional turmoil, followed by the guilt and lack of self respect when I succumb.
- Avoid the situations where we start to fantasize. Do you have a tendency to crave junk food while watching TV? Stop watching so much TV. Simple. Whatever the background situations are specific to you, make changes to your habits.
- I find that I snack when I’m not busy. So, I do my best to fill my life with activities that keep me busy; whether work or play, it doesn’t matter.
- Try not to let yourself get too hungry. It is better to snack on fruit, raw vegetables or nuts throughout the day rather than getting to the stage where you feel so hungry you turn into a ravenous monster. We have all been here, when you are very hungry you will make worse selections, and eat faster so that you keep eating after your stomach signals to your brain that it is full. Next, you are feeling bloated, a little sick and possibly guilty.
- Pattern interrupts. When I described the visit to the pizza restaurant, or receiving a delivery did you take action? I mean, did you eat a pizza after reading the beginning of this section? If you didn’t, then I expect that the reason is that you stopped thinking about pizza … right? I hope it is because this post is temporarily more compelling than the pizza. You can practice ‘changing the topic’ when you start to crave. There are different ways to do this; the technique gets easier over time as the habit is ingrained. One day you could find yourself telling someone, “Whenever I feel like eating cake I take it as a sign that I need to go for a quick run”.
Alternatively, you might get into the habit of thinking on the naked pictures of yourself at your peak weight.
- Those pictures you deliberately took during your reality check process. You might never show those to anyone, but go back to when you need motivation or to remind yourself how far you have come. It doesn’t matter whether these thought pattern interrupts involve a carrot, for example “I’m bored, why don’t I go shopping”, or a stick… “I have lost 80 pounds, lets take a look at my naked fat pictures again so that I remind myself why I am changing my life”. Just choose some that are personal to you and make a conscious effort to cement the habit.
- Resolve personal pain. There are many different ways to resolve emotional pain. You can practice the art of forgiving yourself and others.
- Remind yourself that hurt people hurt people; it could be that the person who hurt you was doing their best, based on the level of wisdom and consciousness they possessed at the time.
- Maybe you can write a letter, either ‘getting it off your chest’, apologizing, or reconciling. This technique works even if you never send the letter, or the recipient is no longer alive.
- Another way of resolving pain is to contribute to the world in a positive way if you have previously contributed in a negative one. Indulge in random acts of kindness.
- Burn or give away reminders or ‘souvenirs’ of past pain.
- Pray, meditate or read spiritual books, such as the Bible or from one of the many inspiring writers. Get some books from Deepak Chopra, Eckart Tolle, James Redfield, the Dalai Lama or whoever draws you to them during your selection process. There are so many ways of healing emotional pain.
- Get busy and passionate again. Did you notice that when you are in love, you rarely feel hungry? Have you ever enjoyed your work so much that you forget to eat? Do you have any hobbies, interests or pastimes that make your heart fill with passion?
When you are busy, and involved in activities that make you feel more alive, any emotional related cravings will dissolve in the light of happiness
- If you have neglected your family, friends, career or interests then get started on re-lighting the spark. If you feel tired or depressed then simply getting started is the simplest way.
- You start goal setting, you write down all the things that have made you feel passionate in the past, you will think of ways to get the ball rolling again
- Start with easy tasks and goals and start building momentum. Finding a new life partner or changing careers might not be something that you can do today, but you can certainly get back on the right path again.
- Start avoiding processed food, keep that food with artificial additives to the minimum. Avoid sugar, potatoes and cereals (even wholegrain) and actually, these white carbs altogether if you can, or keep them to a minimum.
- For example, if you eat 3 meals a day, for breakfast you can eat bacon, eggs, onion, tomato, and beans, just avoid the toast and potatoes; at lunch maybe compromise and have a sandwich and some fruit and for your evening meal have a roast dinner. Just avoid the potato and desert. Whilst I wouldn’t call this ‘a diet’, even these small tweaks to your normal diet will drastically reduce your cravings.
- I believe that avoiding white carbs and chemical additives will have more effect than the other 5 suggestions combined!