4 ways to curb any craving
We all know how it feels when a craving hits. Whether it’s an urge for something sweet to finish a meal or a carby craving late at night, it’s that desperate need to fill some hole within ourselves with the food that will do the job quickest. Perhaps because of this sense of urgency, cravings have got themselves a bad reputation. To succumb to a craving is seen as weak, a sign of low self-control. But what do cravings actually mean, and are they trying to tell us something about our bodies?
Cravings can come about for many reasons. It could be that your body genuinely needs more fuel. If that’s the case, it makes sense for your body to crave the food type that will boost its energy in the simplest and quickest way – sugar. However, it could also be that you’re feeling bored, sad or stressed. It’s important to know where your craving is coming from. The next time you get a doughnut craving out of nowhere, try one of the following tips before heading to the cupboard, and then see if your craving is sticking around.
1. Take some deep breaths
If your craving is due to a feeling of sadness, stress or being unsettled, breathing exercises can really help. Taking a few seconds to stop and check in with yourself can help your mind to slow down and your thoughts to become clear. While you’re breathing, ask yourself some questions. Do you really want the snack? Why do you want it right now? Are you physically hungry?
The name for this practice is mindfulness. It’s the process of becoming more self-aware, paying attention to your thoughts and noticing any habits around eating that you might have.
2. Think of how you will feel later
It can be hard to see the woods for the trees when you’re so immersed in thoughts of sugar, but you doubtless have an idea of how excessive amounts of it make you feel. Try to think of how you’ll feel 20 minutes from now. Full? Satisfied? Bloated? Regretful? We don’t want to assign any kinds of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ labels to foods, but the fact remains that we feel different after eating different things. If you know your body genuinely won’t thank you for eating the chocolate, hold onto that thought.
3. Treat yourself, but in a different way
Treats don’t just have to come in the form of food. If your reason for eating those sweets is that “you deserve them,” think about what you could substitute them with that you feel equally deserving of. Try a massage, a long bath or an hour with a good book. Phone a friend, dance to your favourite song or go for a walk in the sunshine. If, after doing these things, you still want the sweets, feel free to indulge. But see how these ideas make you feel first.
4. Just have a little bit
Thanks to the urgency of a craving, you might feel desperate to eat as much of the craved food as you can manage. Often, however, less really is more. Instead of the whole bar, just have a few bites of chocolate, and then stop. Check in with yourself again. Would finishing it really make you feel better, or could you save it to enjoy later? Remember to eat mindfully and be as aware of your intentions as you can be.
Do you have any specific tips and tricks that help keep your cravings under control? Let us know in the comments!