Food cravings and hunger are two very different feelings. Hunger is a feeling you get when you need food or your body lacks a specific nutrient. When you feel hungry, your body sends signals like a growling in your stomach, and not satisfying your hunger can make you feel lightheaded or grouchy. While hunger can be alleviated by eating any type of food, food cravings lead you to seek out a particular food. This desire may feel uncontrollable and it can only be satisfied once you have that certain food.
Most of the time, food cravings arise even when you are not hungry and are often triggered by an external factor. For example, you may have seen an advertisement that made you crave for chocolates. Not acting on your cravings won’t cause you to become hungry or feel weak. While giving in to your cravings is not a bad thing, you may want to curb them to better manage your diet and control weight gain. Techniques like drinking several glasses of water, taking a walk around the block, or chewing a piece of gum can help ease the cravings but another option is to create a positive mindset. The way you think can reduce your desire to munch unnecessarily.
Shift Your Thoughts
You may feel like you are not mentally strong enough to say no to that extra slice of cake, but changing your current mindset may curb your appetite. One example is by acknowledging your cravings. At times, you may just need to recognize that while a certain food would be nice to eat, you don’t need really need to have it.
In addition, you can concentrate on the consequences of giving in to your craving, especially if it has the potential to have a long-term effect on your health. Enjoying a salty snack or a sugary treat may satisfy your cravings, but thinking about the excess salt and sugar it adds to your diet may just be what you need to change your mind about getting an unhealthy snack.
If shifting your thoughts isn’t strong enough to stop you from grabbing some chips, you may want to consider doing something else for 30 seconds instead. You can tap your forehead with your finger, stare at a blank wall, or tap your foot on the floor. When you do these movements, your brain gets distracted so instead of focusing on your food cravings, your attention is now on the actions you are doing. Although doing the motions continuously for 30 seconds may reduce longing for food, 10 seconds may be enough to help you forget about that cupcake.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapy that follows the psychological principles of how your behavior can be altered and managed through understanding your thoughts and feelings. A cognitive-behavioral therapist doesn’t just observe and help alter your behavior; they also guide you to explore the thought process that leads you to behave in a particular way. This is why CBT is considered to be effective in giving long-term solutions to food cravings as well as supporting people who are recovering from substance abuse. Those who attend a Tucson drug rehab center or a similar treatment facility in the United States usually participate in several CBT sessions to find out what thoughts and emotions lead them to abuse substances. Knowing this can help them better manage those feelings and maintain their sobriety.
In helping to suppress your cravings, CBT can also help you identify the connection between your cravings and your relationship with food. During therapy, your therapist will discuss your food experiences and how these thoughts affect your cravings. For example, if you secretly ate chocolates as a kid, you may associate its taste with comfort or happiness. Thus, you may grab the chocolatey treat whenever you are sad or upset to boost your mood.
Once you realize the link of your food cravings with what you think and how you feel, you may also become more aware of how you process your thoughts and emotions. Also, your therapist can explain how your emotional reasoning can lead to unhealthy outcomes, like feeling guilty because you ate foods that are not be good for you. In order to help you move forward, your therapist may teach you various coping strategies to deal with the negative feelings and food cravings.
The right mindset may be the start of successfully curbing your food cravings. Aside from having strong willpower, you may need to distract your brain from thinking about food by doing another activity or focusing on something else. In addition, therapy can help manage cravings through understanding the mental and emotional motivations in desiring particular foods. Keep in mind that these techniques may work differently for various people and it’s always best to consult with your physician.