Do you crave salty or sweet foods? Do you crave them in the afternoon or after dinner? Are they easily satisfied with a few bites or do you want to demolish the whole container?
These are a few of the questions I ask my clients who tell me that cravings stall their progress. And believe it or not, the answers to these questions tell me a lot.
What Is A Craving?
Cravings are love notes from your body. No, really! Your body is communicating with you and telling you what it needs.
You may be thinking, why would my body need an entire container of ice cream?
On the surface, it's ice cream, but if you look deeper it could be telling you something more meaningful.
Often people get frustrated by the craving and the "lack of willpower" and never dive deeper. But, I'm here today to tell you why you need to dig deeper.
What Your Cravings Are Telling You
Let's stick with the ice cream analogy because sugar tends to be the most popular craving.
Digging deeper means you are taking a few minutes to pause before you grab the ice cream. You can simply reflect on the last 24 hours or ask yourself some questions using these examples.
Are you bored?
Are you tired?
Are you stressed?
Did you have a long workout today?
Did you under-eat today?
Did you have any starchy or higher-carb veggies today?
Have you been eating junk food lately?
Did you have a shitty day?
Are you consuming sugar all day long?
When you get to a "yes" or can identify the root of the craving then ask yourself "Do I still want the ice cream?".
There is no one right answer here. Sometimes you can simply identify the root of the craving and move on without eating the ice cream. Other times, you might identify the root cause of the craving and eat it anyway.
If I'm Going To "Give In" Anyway Then Why Even Do This Exercise?
In the beginning you might give in 100% of the time. That's okay.
What?! It's okay?! How am I supposed to lose weight???
I hear you, but here's the thing, if you try to ignore or resist the craving 100% of the time you might end up eating twice as much ... or more. You're also ignoring what your body is trying to tell you and therefore will continue to have the cravings.
If you do this exercise you will start seeing the trends and understanding the "why". And then you have the power to do something about it. Over time, the need for this exercise will decrease and so will the number of times you "give in".
Before we move on I want to elaborate on why I'm using quotes when I say "give in". People often relate "giving in" to the cravings as a lack of willpower.
I also don't think I'm "a bad person" or "being bad" or "cheating" when I decide to eat the ice cream. I'm simply honoring what I need...even if it's ice cream. I practice mindful eating and don't tie my self worth to my food choices. Neither should you.
How To End The Cravings
Do the exercise above. Start making a mental note of the cause or better yet, write it down on your calendar. (Do people even still use paper calendars? Just me? Okay, then use an app on your phone.) Over the course of a week or two you're going to have some insight into what's going on.
Are you always tired? Find a way to get more sleep.
Are you stressed? Implement stress management techniques.
Are your meals balanced? Try meal planning for a week or two.
The fact is, there are a million reasons why you are having cravings and even more ways you can prevent them ... once you know why they're there.
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Take the time to dig deeper. Stop ignoring the love notes from your body and listen up! And even more importantly, stop beating yourself up. You're human and you've got a lot on your plate.
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