Tag Archives for " controlling cravings "

March 3, 2024

Do you Cave When you Crave?

Cravings! Ah yes, we all have them, and most of the time they are for foods that are sugary, salty, fatty, crunchy and fried. These very common cravings usually lead us to overindulge on foods that don’t feel good in our bodies, and don’t serve us in reaching our health goals.

As a Transformational Eating Coach and Holistic Nutritionist, I teach people how to transform their relationship with food by bringing awareness to what they are doing with food on the regular. I use a combination of mindset based approaches, which bring my clients to a new state of awareness with their eating and a new connection with their bodies.

The majority of the time cravings are EMOTIONAL, but we are never really taught that. The act of eating emotionally can result in a lifetime of bad habits (ie: the nightly candy bar, or vat of buttered popcorn on the sofa while watching Netflix).

Think about it…when we were kids, our parents usually rewarded us with food if we did something good, or as a source of comfort if we were hurt or sad. The first food we ever had came from our mother’s breast, the ONE person we equated love with. So it’s no wonder we equate eating food with receiving love…

And, we also have the large corporate food companies dialed in with scientists working around the clock to create the perfect combination of sugary, salty, fatty addictive foods. These foods stimulate the feel good centers of the brain and leave us wanting more.

If these foods are eaten enough and regularly, they can actually rewire the brain to crave more of the same. They alter the biological circuitry of our brain (see “The End of Overeating” by David A. Kessler). Just the right combo of these three together will spark your brain into caving for your craving, and from there, habits are built.

So not only are cravings emotional, but they are physical as well. But don’t fret, there are ways to alter your habits and control your cravings. You don’t have to be the one who “caves” every time there is a cookie in front of you, or a slice of wedding cake sitting on the buffet.

How many times have you told yourself you wouldn’t eat something and then find yourself overindulging in it anyway? GUILTY!  It’s the feel good center of your brain that remembers how it felt when you had this certain food before. You have rewarded that behavior. The pathway that you have created from eating so many of these types of foods in your lifetime is activated and then you want more.

But you can work with your cravings, and although it may seem daunting at first, these three simple steps will change the way you relate to food and yourself:

1. Recognize your craving and what is driving it: Before you actually go for the food you are craving, stop yourself and take three deep breaths. Next, ask yourself what is driving this craving. Are you really hungry? Or are you making an emotional choice? What need will the food fill for you?

Get quiet and listen. A lot of people will go for food when they are stressed, sad, lonely or emotional. If you feel any of these things, or you just experienced a stressful situation (a fight with your partner, unwanted news, etc.), tell yourself that food is not the answer and then reach out to a friend, write in a journal or take a walk around the block. Give yourself the thing you think the food will give you (comfort, solace, stress relief, etc)

2. If you are going to eat it, OWN IT: If you feel you can’t stop the craving and you must have that certain food, OWN IT. Make an intentional choice. As you eat whatever food it is you are craving, slow down, savor it and taste every single bite.

Usually after 3 bites, the pleasure center in your brain shuts off and then you are just eating to eat. See if you can take 3 bites that you savor and enjoy, without guilt (this is key). Usually that will do the trick.

3. Let go of counting calories, food rules and dieting: These three things are the BIGGEST reason we have cravings. If you are dieting or restricting in any way, chances are you are going to have BIG cravings. Restriction puts our brain and body into survival mode. When we are in survival mode, we crave sugary, high carbohydrate foods to help our bodies feel safe.

No foods should be off limits, and as much as you may think I am crazy for saying that, give it a try and see how much your cravings change. Once you start giving yourself FULL permission without guilt, to eat those foods you deem “bad” or “forbidden” you will most likely want them less.

Remember it’s important you listen to your body and eat what you need. This isn’t a ticket to overindulge or stuff yourself to the gills with these foods. Enjoy them until your body is satisfied and then move on. This will help cravings become less and less overtime.

I recently had a clietn share that she has lost 45 pounds in 8 months due to our work together. IN order to do this, she did a few things; 1. completely stopped dieting, 2. started eating ONLY when she was hungry and stopping when she was full, 3. worked with her deeper blocks around food and her cravings. She got honest about the ways she was using food as an emotional support crutch.

I know that when cravings come it can feel difficult to overcome them, but if you consistently follow the steps here, it will get easier and easier.

Believe me, I have been on a lifelong journey learning how to give my body what it really needs, versus what my brain thinks it wants. I have found that the more I allow myself to have the foods I used to deprive myself of,  the less and less I want these foods. The bonus is I am healthier, my weight never changes and I can enjoy all foods without guilt or weight gain.

It’s a process and a journey, so remember to be gentle with yourself and just take one positive step forward when you find you might Cave to what you Crave!