Mandy, COC Dietitian
Food cravings can de-rail you and are common.
There are 4 causes:
- Comfort eating – eating to avoid an uncomfortable feeling
- Physical food addiction – to sugar, fat and/or salt
- Habit –buying a chocolate bar with your petrol
- Environmental – a vending machine you walk past every day
American Psychologist Pavel Somov has identified 4 craving control strategies in his book “Eating the Moment”.
Here they are from least to most effective.
1. Self talk – summarise all the stuff you say to yourself in an attempt to avoid over eating in one short, punchy sentence.
2. Distraction. “Swap it don’t stop it “– find something else to do instead of eating. Leave the trigger environment, put the biscuits in the cupboard etc…
3. Relax . Food cravings are associated with physical, mental and or emotional tension. Take 3 deep belly breaths and feel the wave of relaxation.
4. Mindfulness. Step back and identify the triggers to your cravings. The external trigger will cause a specific feeling in your body, usually uncomfortable. Notice what you say to yourself and what you see in your minds eye. See if you can identify the emotion behind the tension and the belief or attitude that generates it.
The bottom line is:
Cravings crest and disappear like a wave on the ocean. The problem is we are convinced they will only get bigger so give in early. The objective is not to get rid of them, rather learn to ride them out. Learning to delay gratification is one of the critical moves of habit change.
The idea is to learn to tolerate discomfort in the short term (the craving) for the gratification of a bigger goal (a healthier weight). This is how you become an Agent of Change.
Please let me know if you found this article useful.