Updated: Feb 9, 2020
Cravings. The bane of everyones dieting. This force comes over you and pushes you to shove all pleasurable things in your mouth.
Craving defined: an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing.
Ask anyone what foods they crave, and most people will be able to list off at least a couple without hesitation. Ask them while they are dieting and due to our natural preoccupation with food, and heightened anxiety during these phases, we will be able to spit them out more quickly.
"Food cravings arise to satisfy emotional needs, such as calming stress and reducing anxiety," says Drewnowski, a well-known researcher on taste and food preferences.
Braking that down — it is our perceptions and interpretations of the "cravings" that shape our emotions, which lead to our reactions. A craving is a simple desire, that you interpret as being necessary for your wellbeing and happiness.
We run into issues when we interpret something as having power over us and deny responsibility. We tend to place blame intuitively and this causes unnecessary difficulties. Most humans would rather be a victim of the world, rather than a victim of our own doings. It’s much easier to believe we have no control over a situation, because then we don’t have to do anything about it.
Example: Craving a donut. We get a powerful “craving” despite our best efforts to stick to our diet to lose that last 15 lbs. We feel we can’t control ourselves and have to give into the “craving”.
Well, get this — this language is distorted and doesn’t even accurately describe what is happening to an individual when they have a desire. It places the person in a victim mentality which is treating a craving as some objective force outside of their own mind. It is happening to them.This mythical craving then needs to be fought off. You need to prevent it from occurring, or take special precautions to avoid the “donut trigger”.
Ah-ha moment: A "craving" is not a force outside of you. It is an activity and set of beliefs you choose to engage in.
You actively are welcoming and engaging in the thought that the donut offers you some value and would feel good eating at this moment. Cravings feel stronger when your thoughts are translated into “I need that donut right now", rather than "I want that donut right now".There are various levels of wanting and obsessive thoughts that differ in humans. This is relative to the person based off the perceived value they will be getting from the food or substance of choice.
To crave is to actively think that the donut is your best option right now and it will bring you closer to happiness. The weight you are trying to lose has been framed as a negative, so your brain will always focus in on the positive option. The donut.
Solution: To not experience cravings it’s simple really — know what you want most, and make it clear in your mind what is a preferable option to get you there. You see, when you see weight loss as the thing that is causing you discomfort then you will always eventually slip into succumbing to your desires for the high calorie foods in excess. What needs to happen is you need to focus all your mental energy on the happiness that losing the weight will bring you. Do not focus on all the negatives and restrictions that dieting comes with.
battlingUntil you change your perception of the donut, you will constantly be the desire. You are free to challenge any thought or desire. You do not have to believe that every intrusive thought that comes into your mind is a fact. Thoughts are not happening to you, instead they come from your mind — and that my dear can change in an instant with a shift in beliefs.
You are free to ask yourself; “Do I really want a donut right now? Is this the option that will provide me with the happiest outcome?"
A method I often use with my clients to shift this is using imagery. Pair a food you typically desire with causing fat gain, sickness, and disgust. This method works by killing the underlying desire that is behind our wants.
Have you ever experienced a "craving" vanish with new information? Comment over here.