Cravings? You got this!

You're relaxing on the couch after a long day. You've got your feet up and your favorite show is on. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a craving hits. Twenty minutes later, you've got crumbs all over your lap and the entire box of cookies has disappeared. And your calorie count for the day has gone through the roof.

What happened? You were doing so well!

Cravings have nothing to do with actual hunger. We rarely crave nutritious foods that our bodies really need. When was the last time you had a craving for a kale salad? Or a protein shake? I'm guessing you almost always crave something you have banned from your diet. (I'm not suggesting you ignore real hunger. If you need to eat, that's something completely different.)

When we get a craving, we experience a powerful urge. But this is a psychological phenomenon, not a physical need. If you chose not respond to the craving, what would happen? Would you keel over from starvation? Would you faint? Become ill? Need an ambulance? Probably none of the above.

Cravings FEEL powerful, but the reality is: cravings are just feelings. Cravings, like feelings, come and go. They might feel strong for a moment or two, but they don't last forever.

When you get a craving, remember this is NOT an emergency. You have lots of choices about how you respond to the urge. Here are some possible responses:

1) Do nothing. Just because a craving happens to arise, this doesn't mean you have to react. You might choose to simply breathe. If you're not truly hungry, the craving will eventually go away.

2) Wait five minutes. Or ten. You might even set a timer. Give yourself some time to see what will happen next. Maybe your craving will disappear. Maybe it will change. Maybe you will decide you don't want whatever you were craving. Maybe you will decide you're hungry and need a healthy snack.

3) Drink a large glass of water. Many times we think we're hungry, but we are actually just thirsty. Water contains zero calories, but will fill up your stomach, hydrate all your cells, and possibly satisfy you. Water is always a good first step.

4) Get up and move. Get off the couch, or wherever your cravings tend to occur, and do some activity. Anything will do! Go for a walk, or weed a flowerbed, or wash the dishes, or vacuum the carpet. Brush the dog or the cat or the guinea pig. Call a friend and ask them to distract you. Keep your hands and your brain busy.

5) Offer yourself a replacement. If the thing you're craving will ruin your diet, try a substitute treat. If you're on keto and craving tortilla chips, try pork rinds. If you're craving chocolate ice cream, try a chocolate protein shake. If you want a candy bar, have a square of dark chocolate. If you regularly crave a certain kind of treat, have some suitable substitutes on hand at all times.

6) Give in. If your craving won't go away, and you've tried all of the above steps, you can always choose to eat that treat. To make it more difficult to cave, don't stock your pantry or fridge with whatever you tend to crave. This will mean a trip to the store every time you have a craving. Or only stock up on ingredients, so you have to make your treat from scratch. Either way, giving in to your craving will take more time, and require more effort, which means less instant gratification.

Do you struggle with cravings? Need more support? Leave me a message! I am available for one-on-one or small group weight loss coaching and holistic personal training.