Commercials are a common culprit. The voice over describes whatever it is, the cheeseburger or dessert, in mouthwatering language. The food stylist presents the treat in its most delicious form. You want it – bad. Other times the craving seems to come out of nowhere. You’ve packed a grain bowl for lunch but you can’t seem to get that Kung Pao chicken off of your mind. What can you do about food cravings? Here are a few tips to try.
Find a distraction
Sometimes, freeing yourself from the grip of a strong food craving is as simple as finding another focus. That means instead of giving in and getting those hot wings, you take a walk, read online jokes or find funny cat videos.
Try a substitute
Thirst can mimic hunger when you are dehydrated. Try green tea or water with a slice of fruit when you feel a craving coming on. You can also reach for something with the same texture as the thing you crave. For example, if you are craving crunchy choose a tart, juicy apple.
Know the reason
Remind yourself why you decided to eliminate or reduce your intake of whatever the food is in the first place. If the outcome you are working toward is motivating enough it may be enough to keep you from giving in – at least this time.
Watch the craving
Remind yourself that cravings, just like feelings, are impermanent. Cravings come and go. The next time you have a craving, simply notice it. Where do you feel it in your body? What is your mind saying about it? What is happening with your breathing as you experience the craving? Approach your craving with curiosity rather than fear or avoidance. Allow it to be there knowing that it will eventually go away.
Practice when and then
Turn the desired food into a reward. For example, when I finish my walk then I can enjoy my treat in moderation.
Give in and try the two bite rule
And then there are those times when no matter what you do the craving won’t be denied. Go ahead and give in, but don’t overdo it. Studies have shown that the first two bites bring the most enjoyment. Before you dig in, be sure your portion is no more than two bites. Enjoy each bite mindfully. Notice the taste and texture of the food. Give yourself fully to the experience of chewing and observing the layers of flavor. Chances are after making it a full sensory experience for two bites, you will be ready to let the craving go.
Finally, treat each craving episode separately
Just because you succumbed to the craving the last time doesn’t mean that you can or you will the next time. Each moment is a new opportunity. If you fall off the food craving wagon, get up and get back on…as many times as you need to. After all, even if you give in 6 times out of 10, that is still better than 10 out of 10. Start wherever you are and offer yourself constant support and encouragement to get where you want to be.