If you’re a person, you can probably relate to this in some way. The feeling of “how did this happen?” whilst staring at an empty packet of crisps, chocolate, sweets.
Cravings can be one of the most frustrating things, making you feel like an out of control failure, who can’t stop overindulging.
However, you aren’t powerless against these urges, even if it sometimes feels that way…
So what’s the secret?
Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t about eliminating your cravings altogether, nor is it a case of building your willpower. As relying solely on willpower usually leads to a binge, closely followed by the foetal position of despair!
The trick is being able to outwit your cravings, bu understanding why, when and where they occur and creating a plan ahead of time.
1 – Find the trigger
Cravings are brought on by environmental cues. Sight, smell, taste, location, or company. So keeping track of where and when your cravings occur can help you figure out what triggers them.
Here’s some questions to answer, every time you experience a craving:
What are you craving? (Specific food? Specific texture?)
What are you doing? (Driving? Working? Watching TV?)
What are you feeling emotionally? (Happy? Angry? Stressed?)
Do this over a couple of weeks so you can if any patterns emerge.
2 – Give your craving a time out
Notice your snack urge and sit with it for 5 minutes without taking action.
This isn’t about willpower, it’s about allowing your mind to realise that you’re in charge and then make a more rational decision.
Are you actually hungry? Or is it boredom/procrastination?
3 – Choose an activity that doesn’t involve chewing
A lot of cravings are psychological, rather than physical and likelihood is that the feeling will dissipate after 10-15 minutes.
Immersing yourself in an activity long enough, you may push the urge out of your system.
Here’s some options:
Call a friend
Work on a project your passionate about
Start a jigsaw
Make sure that it occupies your mind, watching TV for example probably won’t help and is a common trigger for most people.
4 – Eat the right foods during the day
Here at K1, we’ve discovered clients who overeat at night, often restrict their intake throughout the day… knowingly or unknowingly.
Foe example, they may be skipping breakfast or eating a salad with very little to no protein for lunch. Whilst dinner might be a good solid, balanced meal, their appetite is already in overdrive and so it’s not a surprise when the feel the urge to snack before bed.
Try this to help curb after dinner snacking:
Protein keeps you full between meals
Fiber, especially from vegetables helps fill you up
Mix in a few portions of carbs and healthy fats
5 – Indulge your cravings, with a plan
Craving a chocolate bar? Ok, have one. But choose a high quality chocolate. Eat it slowly and savour the experience. Whilst it seems counterintuitive, research has shown that people consume far less of the chocolate this way.
Alternatively, try this unconventional method. You can have the snack, however, it must be purchased right before eating, and from a shop 10 minutes from your house.
Half the time, people decide it’s not worth the effort. For those that make the journey, they don’t want the snack anymore as the craving has gone.
Another option is that you can eat it, but you have to make it. Which works much like the above, the impracticality of it just isn’t worth the effort.
If a food is in your house, then either you, someone you love or someone you marginally tolerate will eventually eat it.
So, aim to keep things away from your cupboards.