Cravings are often regarded as the hardest obstacles to maintaining a healthy weight and staying in the confines of your diet. They can range from a slight nudge when you see these cupcakes in the bakery window to true nightmare of a feeling when your family brings you sweets and cake on your birthday. Are they destined to be such a nuisance to us? Is there any method to curb their overpowering hold over the way we eat?
What’s a craving? Understand it to beat it!
The original use of this term was connected with the science of curing or managing substance abuse, but it has been expanded since to cover various other urges related to other things (or even concepts). We can crave the next serving of delicious food, the affection of our friends or family, or even recognition in the professional field. The main similarity between these seemigly very different situations is the exceptional strenght of the feeling.
Are the cravings always bad for us? Not really, provided that we manage them properly. Cravings should be regarded as a part of the almost infinite spectrum of human emotions and physical reactions to them and there’s no reason to give to them any more power over our behaviour than we want to. Such statement may understandably be met with disbelief and doubt by people for whom the cravings once again became a barrier to achieving healthy lifestyle or losing weight. The important fact, however, it this: we are not powerless in confrontation with what we feel.
Can we truly stop cravings?
A diet without the cravings, temptations or other roadblocks would be easiest thing in the world. We would simply calculate the number of calories we need to go without to lose weight, adapt it rationally to the desired timeframe, and proceed to follow the plan every single day. No second thoughts, no problems, no stress. Just imagine your life like that! Your weight goes down as planned, pound by pound, week by week, and all that’s left to do is to congratulate yourself on your willpower and steady progress.
Without a doubt, it’s a beautiful, compelling dream, but to achieve our goals we need to face the reality. And to be able to do that, it’s important to remember that we don’t have full control of our emotions. Moreover, we shouldn’t strive to have it – it will only deplete our energy reserves without bringing about any real change. What we are perfectly able to learn to control is our behaviour in reaction to these emotions, and this is the precise area we need to work on in the long run. How to stop cravings? Firstly, you need to understand that it’s not only impossible to do that, but also generally counterproductive. Focus your energy on managing them instead, and you’ll be making effective steps towards your dietary goal every day.
Meditation and minfulness – proven way to reduce cravings
Different experts in the area of healthy eating and wellness will offer us a range of various explanations of the exact nature of food cravings. While some regard it as an emotion equal in strenght to the effects of substance withdrawal in the course of battle with addiction, others will simply frame it as a maladaptive habit than can easily be conquered. It doesn’t matter which opinion you personally hold true – starting a meditation and mindfulness practice will help you tremendously.
Meditation is an excellent way to increase your power of concentration and discernement when it comes to your thoughts, as well as a scientifically-approved method for strenghtening your overall health. Mindfulness will teach you how to react when a craving appears, helping you to break your identification with this urge. When meditating or being mindful, we doesn’t exactly concentrate on how to stop cravings. On the contrary – we notice, name and acknowledge them, sometimes to the point of analysing attentively their unique structure.
But won’t the craving get stronger when we don’t try to distract ourselves from them or disregard them? That would be the common-sense conclusion, but every person practicing regular meditation will tell you that’s not the case. Awareness is a beautifully simple tool to deal with the cravings, because it works against the mindless, automatic response to them. Instead, it helps you to deal with the discomfort of the feeling, until it diminishes and passes. Over time, the cravings you deal with in such a way become less and less prominent.