CRAVINGS Killing Your Nutrition Vibe?
Read on for how to FINALLY take control of those nagging little temptations that creep into our brains trying to derail our nutritional success! It DOESN'T have to be that way!
Cravings are like crazy little monsters that sneak into our brains and drive us crazy until we acknowledge them...kind of like the Baby Shark song to me at the moment! LOL! The thing is that from a scientific perspective, Cravings and Hunger are completely different. Cravings are created typically as an Emotional response to something, while Hunger is created as a biological response to hormonal shifts. There is a distinct difference. Cravings are typically triggered by some emotionally tied occurrence like stress, a memory, a sensory activation...like a smell or delicious looking commercial or ad, wanting a feeling of comfort, security, or relaxation, and will only be quelled by creating those feelings. Hunger, on the other hand, comes from our bodies biological need for energy, and the triggering of ghrelin and leptin hormones among others, and can typically be satisfied with a balance of carbohydrate, fat , and protein, regardless of taste, texture, etc.
So, when a strong craving pops up, I think it's a great practice to get into to really dig in and examine why/what is causing it or driving that need to feel a certain way. Are you having a stressful day? Are you missing someone, place, or time in your life? Are you overwhelmed by something and seeking calm and/or relaxation? AND, then...try to come up with other things that can fill those emotions for you....Having a little list of potential "craving solutions" is a good place to start. What are some other things (besides food) that allow you to feel comfort, relaxation, etc? For some it could simply be the smell of a favorite candle, certain music, reading, movement, meditation, something warm to drink, journaling, etc. Can you re-creating the true feeling you're seeking from the food, but with a different method? For long term nutritional success, having a plan of how to handle these situations with non-food options is so important!
If you stayed with me, and are still reading...but are like...Girl... I just want the damn cake, ice cream, pizza, etc...after you've examined your feelings a bit...then I would suggest to get it, and eat it, and THEN really think about how you feel. Was it a "comfort" or stress-relieving thing for you? Did you REALLY enjoy it, or are you sitting there feeling guilty, bad about yourself, or like you're now going to be out of control with your diet for the rest of the day, week, etc? Why? It was ONE meal out of at least 20 others during your week. ONE does not mean nutritional failure. It means you are human, and want to enjoy things you like from time to time. If you're feeling overly restricted in your diet, it will actually cause you to feel feelings of rebellion, and that alone will cause the cravings. So, actually allowing yourself to enjoy things from time to time will keep that feeling of deprivation at bay.
The trick is to make a promise to yourself that the next nutritional choice you have will be a BETTER one. Notice I didn’t say a PERFECT one. I think that feeling of “I’ll just have this, then I’ll be 100% committed again” puts SO MUCH pressure on us to resume dietary “perfection” and that’s when we crumble and go down that rabbit hole of one “bad food” leading to two, three, and a downward spiral of our day, week, month, etc. Instead aim for a “better” choice at your next meal, whatever that may be, and allow yourself to feel that win, and realize that YES... You’ve got this!
Own that you are in control of your decision to either eat or not eat said craving, AND that YOU are in control of what happens next. One action (or meal) does not determine the next. You do. Mastering that concept is one of the main things that separates "nutritionally successful people" vs those who continuously struggle. They don't let one decision have power over them. So whether you CHOOSE find another way to fill the void that caused the craving, or CHOOSE to indulge yourself with the craving, it's something you ultimately had control over, and, going forward can control the decisions that come afterward. HEAVY stuff for this Valentine’s morning....but definitely a GREAT way to examine and (hopefully) practice a little self-love!
If you have more questions, or think getting some nutritional guidance from an experience coach could help you, I’d love to hear from you! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org