Recently I started asking new members of my Group what they really need to know when it comes to losing weight and getting healthy. The most common response is “how to control food cravings.” Whether for sweets or salty, the desire is to crave those foods less, and eat more of the healthy stuff.
And it’s the issue that most of my coaching clients wrestle with when they first hire me.
And it’s the issue that will continue to challenge you without an intentional plan of action.
Let’s start with a basic truth about cravings. The more you give into them, the stronger they become. And the more you resist them, the stronger they become.
“Well great” I can hear you saying.
But knowing this gives you power to control food cravings and I’ll share three ways to do that:
1. Be prepared: Food is designed to be uber palatable. Manufacturers use sugar, fat, salt and chemicals to create foods that previously didn’t exist. The better it tastes, the more you eat (and the more profit they make).
Our ancient ancestors didn’t crave foods like we do. They needed to eat to stay alive. So when they had a taste of something they liked, a little dopamine was released into the brain to motivate them to seek more of it.
But today these super palatable foods use your physiology against you by releasing more dopamine, which drives you to want more. Notice how a few strawberries are sufficient, but one chip/cookie never is?
2. Be the observer: Notice the craving when it comes, like you’re watching a movie. You can say something to yourself like, “Oh, I see my brain really wants something sweet (salty) while watching a movie.”
Then normalize it, like “Of course I want that…Nabisco has spent a lot of money to make sure I do. And, it’s something I’ve been eating for a long time.” In this way you logically poke a bit of fun at the craving and don’t make it such a big deal.
3. Be honest, kind and firm: Acknowledge there is part of you that wants to eat the thing and part of you that doesn’t. And that’s okay. You’re figuring it out.
Pay close attention to what you make it mean when you have a craving. If you start to blame yourself for being weak, for having no willpower, notice how those thoughts feel. Hint, like $h!t. So, not helpful.
At this point you let your brain know, “Hey, I see you craving chocolate and I get it. But we’re not doing that right now.” Each time you do this, you not only control food cravings…you reduce future cravings.
Each time you go through this process, ask yourself what you really want. What you’re really craving. Yes, the dopamine in your brain wants the food, but the you underneath it all wants something else. Something better.
Learn to crave that.