It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Eat in moderation. Eat slowly. And eat a balanced diet. Yada, yadda, yadda.
But if it’s so simple, why is it so hard to keep yourself calm and balanced when those food temptations come up? How to resist the urge to eat when there’s a carton of ice cream? You buckle under pressure and eat too much. When you’re stressed, you load up on heavy carbohydrates and pure junk food.
And you keep thinking: how to stop food cravings? How to deal with the situation?
There are ways how to stop cravings and stop them in a way that makes you feel empowered and in charge again. Below, we’ll touch upon some of the key ways that help to fight cravings and return balance in your life.
Stop Fighting Food
The first way how to stop food cravings is to stop fighting food in the first place. Instead of looking at food as some sort of enemy that you need to protect yourself against, try to change your mindset.
Food isn’t bad or good. In fact, it’s pretty neutral. We’re the ones who associate good or bad qualities with food.
For example, chocolate and sweet treats are usually referred to as “guilty pleasures”. Carbohydrate-laden dishes are often “comfort foods”. Chips and dips are what we kindly refer to as “junk food”.
But if you can look at food as just food, you don’t have to fight it anymore. There’s no need to learn how to resist the urge to eat. Instead, you have to face your feelings.
Face Your Feelings
We’re often tempted to eat certain things, and it might seem like we really want that particular food item.
But the truth is, we usually only want that food because we’re trying to satisfy another, deeper need. It’s not that you’re physically hungry. Instead, you’re hungry for something else.
For example, you are familiar with feeling stressed out, right? What did you do to lower your stress? You reached for something to munch on. It doesn’t just happen when we’re stressed, though. Emotional eating can happen when we’re depressed, sad, anxious, or lonely.
But food isn’t what our body really craves. What we really need is to acknowledge our feelings and accept our emotions. When we cave into our food temptations, we don’t solve anything. Our feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety, and loneliness are still there long after the ice cream is finished.
In other words, it’s not about learning how to stop craving food, it’s about learning to feel your feelings.
How can we learn to face our emotions so we don’t reach for food? Here are some simple ways:
- Talk it Out: When women take time to share and connect with others, it raises their oxytocin. This can help lower stress and increase feelings of well-being. That means they don’t feel the need to eat their feelings.
- Meditate: Meditation is a great way to cultivate mindfulness and self-awareness. With these two skills, you’re better equipped to acknowledge your emotions and work through them, as opposed to repressing or ignoring them.
- Journal: Writing, whether through traditional journaling or morning pages, helps you separate yourself from your emotional struggles. It helps you analyze them and to develop healthy strategies to cope with them.
- Seek Professional Help: There’s no shame in getting help from a counselor or psychiatrist. Because these professionals have an objective viewpoint and an academic degree to boot, they can usually help you through difficult times. You don’t have to do it alone!
Allow Yourself Some Treats
This probably sounds contradictory, but this is a very effective way of curbing cravings.
If you let yourself enjoy a treat every now and again, your mind won’t feel deprived and punished. And when you feel satisfied and provided for, you probably won’t feel the urge to splurge and binge on unhealthy foods.
Change Your Wording
Scientists have found that how you speak and think about your food choices makes a huge difference in your decision-making process.
For example, if you say you “can’t” have something, the chances of you wanting and selecting that forbidden food increase quite a bit. But if you say that you “don’t” have something, you’re less likely to select that food item.
Saying that you “don’t” puts you in a position of control. It also empowers you to make decisions based on your own reasons. But when you say, “I can’t”, it implies that something’s out of your control, or that you’re not allowed to do something. It even implies that you’re not capable of doing something.
In short, “can’t” places you in a subdominant position. But “don’t” gives you power and self-possession. If you keep this simple, linguistic approach in mind, it’s much easier to face food temptations with poise and sangfroid.
Create Powerful Mantras
When we were little, we had our parents and grandparents to wisely encourage us to do the right thing. They gave us tough love. As we grow up, it’s easy to get lazy and lower the standards we set for ourselves. Creating mantras can help you stay accountable.
When you write mantras, imagine your favorite mentor, teacher, or relative supporting you. An even more powerful approach is to say them aloud to yourself. The sound of your own voice can really strengthen your resolve.
Here are some mantras that can help you learn how to stop cravings:
- I deserve love and respect, not unnecessary food.
- I am choosing to say no with freedom and lightness.
- Just because I want something doesn’t mean I need it.
- I love and respect my body and fuel it with good foods.
What Do You Have to Lose?
When you’re faced with freshly baked doughnuts, it can seem excruciating to deprive yourself of it. In fact, the more you say no, the more you want it, right: how to fight food cravings when the food is right in front of you? In these moments, try to sit back and ask yourself what you have to lose if you do eat it.
Will you fall behind in your fitness goals? Will you disappoint yourself? Will your self-esteem and self-confidence plummet? Will it make you lose your resolve?
These are only some of the real consequences when we cave into our food cravings. Is one doughnut really worth all this negativity? Probably not! Learning how to deal with cravings becomes easier once you have a solid goal and vision in mind and you realize that one doughnut is not really worth going backward.
Food cravings are real, and boy, are they strong! But you’re strong, too. And with the right mindset and perspective, you can develop a healthier relationship with food.