If you’ve EVER had a food craving, you know the overwhelming sensation that you experience. It is an intense feeling, and typically very different than “normal hunger.”
According to the Wikipedia definition, there is no single explanation for food craving. Not very encouraging I realize. The explanations can range from low serotonin levels affecting the brain centers for appetite to production of endorphins as a result of consuming fats and carbohydrates.
Foods with high levels of sugar glucose, such as chocolate, are more frequently craved than foods with lower sugar glucose, such as broccoli.
And that’s because when glucose interacts with opiod system in the brain an addictive triggering effect occurs. The consumer of the glucose feels the urge to consume more glucose, much like an alcoholic, because the brain has become conditioned to release “happy hormones every time glucose is present.
As with anything relating to weight loss, it’s the difference in your thinking that’s going to allow you to make permanent changes in your eating habits.
Dr. Judith Beck (the Beck Diet Solution) reminds us that the emotionally painful part about a craving is the struggle you feel. Once you can say to yourself with total conviction - NO CHOICE - the craving will diminish.
She goes on to describe the Mindset Techniques and the number of steps of how to respond to your next craving.
The five steps help you prepare your mindset, and you should use the following every time you have a craving:
1. Label it. Tell yourself, “This feeling is just a craving…it’s uncomfortable and intense but it’s not a (food) emergency.”
2. Stand firm. Tell yourself that you’re absolutely not going to eat the food that you’re craving. Remind yourself that you truly don’t want to strengthen your giving-in muscle and weaken your resistance muscle.
Thinking about giving in can undermine your confidence.
3. Don’t give yourself a choice. The emotionally painful part about a craving is the struggle you feel.
The craving won’t go away if you waver or say to yourself, this is so intense, I don’t know if I can stand it. Of course you can stand it! It might be uncomfortable, but nothing bad will happen if you withstand it.
4. Imagine the aftermath of giving in. Go ahead and think about eating the food you’re craving. Imagine it in your mouth. How many seconds does it take to eat it? How many seconds do you feel pleasure? Now visualize the rest of the picture - the part of the experience you usually don’t think about until it’s too late.
Picture yourself feeling weak and out of control. See yourself feeling upset, giving up, continuing to eat more and more, feeling worse and worse. As you become upset in the image, remind yourself how many times you’ve given in before, how you promised yourself you wouldn’t do it again, and hopeless you felt.
Now….what seems better - eating or not eating?
5. Remind yourself WHY you want to learn to withstand cravings.
It’s always about the WHY of weight loss. Not when you start, not what food plan you’ll be on. It’s about the WHY.
Always knowing the WHY of why you want to lose weight will come in handy through the days, weeks, and months as you start to change your lifestyle and will have to remind yourself (often) of the reasons you’re into this lifestyle change to begin with.