I was recently asked by one of me readers to write a blog post about how to handle cravings and overeating. Being a food coach, it’s definitely a common problem to have and I hear it daily from my clients. I too, am not immune to cravings and have found it difficult to have a healthy relationship with food. It is something that takes time, patience, understanding and the ability to anticipate your bodies needs.
The ability to control your cravings is not something that can be fixed overnight, because it’s not a problem that developed overnight. A craving exists because your body has been taught to expect certain things, at certain times, because that’s what it is used to. For example, if you find yourself enjoying a dessert every evening, your body will expect this every evening. If you try and take it away, the body will react and that’s when you start to crave the dessert. Here are some things to consider when tackling cravings…
Recognise habits developing
It is really important to start developing a healthy relationship with your body and understand when you are starting to create a bad habit. For myself, I would enjoy 2 pieces of dark chocolate at night, so 1 block would last me 2 weeks. However, recently I noticed I was buying a block of chocolate each week. So clearly my plan to limit myself to 2 pieces of chocolate at night was no longer the case, I was starting to indulge at other times during the day. I noticed this habit creeping into my diet and I needed to change this immediately before it got worse and the cravings got stronger. So I removed all chocolate from the house for a week, allowing my body to detox a bit from the cravings and re-set itself. After a week, I reintroduced 2 pieces of dark chocolate, every couple of days and instead of feeling guilty, I enjoyed it.
Now obviously if your already making some poor nutritious choices, simply eliminating those foods from your diet may be extremely difficult. But remember, you don’t need to do it all at once and its more about you being able to recognise those poor habits creeping into your diet.
Keep a food diary
I often ask my clients to keep a food diary for 7 days, listing everything they consume, including fluids and listing all exercise. This is so you can have a better understanding of what you are actually eating in a day and identify and patterns you may have developed. For example, do you eat a lot more over the weekend because your not busy with work? So perhaps your eating because your bored…. Maybe you consume all of your alcohol in 2 binge sessions which is also when you make the majority of your poor nutrition choices. Whatever it may be, often writing things down can help expose the issue and give you the opportunity to make changes.
What would happen you don’t submit to the craving?
Cravings can strike hard and fast, leaving you with an intense feeling to quickly satisfy them. However, have tried taking a minute and considering what would happen to you if you didn’t satisfy the craving? Really… Think about it…what would happen to you? Anything negative? Other than feeling uncomfortable because you have a craving, the only other responses are positive. Regaining control of your thoughts and body, the ability to make smarter nutritional decisions, not being dependent on food…. Next time you are experiencing a cravings, take a moment to think to yourself, ‘what will happen if I don’t give in?’
Lesson the blow
Sometimes even the best laid plans go wrong…. We all have moments were we don’t succeed and the cravings beat us. In those moments, its about minimising the impact and not letting one moment of weakness get out of control. If you suddenly find yourself strolling down the chocolate isle looking for a block of chocolate to curb the craving, make the choice to purchase the smaller option or make a slightly better choice . Instead of the block, buy a small bar, instead of a tub of ice cream, buy a single frozen yoghurt, instead of a bag of lollies, buy a single lollipop. Making these choices will lesson the impact of indulging the craving and leave you with a sense of achievement, instead of guilt.
Hopefully this gives you a starting point to abolish those cravings. Remember, we all experience cravings and moments of weakness, but its about making sure those cravings don’t creep into everyday life and become part of your diet.