How to Reduce and Resist Cravings
Going through the pandemic has brought a lot of additional pressure on us. Work, kids at home from school, life…ahh! No wonder we are looking for ways to cope.
We are so strapped for time that we believe that calming techniques such as breathing or meditation take too long. We simply can’t make space for it. Plus, indulging in whatever coping substance of our choice seems to be so much more fun and relaxing…well, at least initially…until we crash.
Are you worried about addiction? Where do cravings end and addictions start? The JOYVIAL health coaches and I debated our definition of where the threshold between the two lies. We agreed that addiction starts when you spend too much time, energy and money thinking about it or consuming it more than you wish.
Ask yourself, if you wish you could be happy without…that (whatever that is)?
Become resistant to cravings
Addiction is really a combination of two things:
A physical craving
A trained habit
Addictive cravings for sugar, salty foods, your daily 3-4 glasses of wine at night, THC products or other commonly used vices, can typically be overcome by abstaining from that substance for a minimum of 6 weeks. In that time, your brain readjusts its need for the substance, and each week reduces the severity of cravings for you.
Now that doesn’t sound very enticing, all you see is 6 weeks of struggle. But getting to the other side is so worth it.
In this blog, I’ll give you 4 tips on how to become more resistant to your cravings.
1. Strengthening your sense of awareness
I encourage you to create a strong sense of awareness in two areas.
First, see if you can identify what triggers your craving. Is it a habit, like opening up a bottle of wine when you come home every night from work? Is it a certain person or situation that makes you angry or sad that leads you to finishing up the cookie box? Become aware of what precedes your cravings.
Second, become aware of your emotions before consuming whatever your vice is. Ask yourself…
What emotions am I trying to soothe (anger, sadness, anxiety…)?
What emotions come up if I don’t give into my urge?
What does this food, etc. represent?
What do I really need?
I’ll give you a personal example. As you may know, I’m a recovered chocoholic who has finally identified what triggers her cravings. I thought about chocolate and asked myself “what does this cookie represent?”. I realized that for me it was…love...comfort…my mom’s hugs when I was a kid. For me, chocolate meant ‘everything is going to be okay’.
If you are dealing with food addictions most often the foods are what soothed us when we were little. What does your vice represent?
2. What does your body need?
Some cravings are truly because your body is in need of certain nutrients. Often, when I have chocolate cravings and eat a healthy fat, like an avocado, the cravings go away. Sometimes, when I cook vegetarian meals for a while, I realize that my body needs protein. Eating wild-caught salmon or 100% grass-fed beef will then reduce my cravings for junk.
Keep in mind, there are often healthier alternatives to the foods we crave. When I crave sugar, I try a piece of fruit first. When you crave a full bag of Tostitos, use 2 tablespoons of organic corn and pop yourself some fresh popcorn, add some olive oil and sprinkle it with salt. Doesn’t that sound good?
Find a healthier alternative for what it is your body is truly craving.
3. What does your mind need?
Some of our addictions are not so much about tasting a certain food but giving us a mental buzz, like when we drink wine or take THC products. The initial feeling of being tipsy or high feels good, but after the buzz wears off, we are still stuck feeling empty or lack energy. We go for more and slowly increase the threshold our brain needs to feel that same buzz again.
Having gone through a 6-weeks abstinence from chocolate and witnessed how beautiful it is to live on the other side of addiction, I’ve also learned that the cravings come back very fast when I feel stressed and under pressure.
Managing your stress is the best way
to manage your cravings.
Now there are many ways to reduce anxiety and stress, which we speak about in so many of our blogs. Here are 3 specific habits you can practice to ease your mind so cravings don’t flair up.
Be proactive: It’s important to understand what triggers your cravings. If it’s your overbearing boss who just makes you want to run to the office kitchen to grab the last cup cake, maybe a good proactive approach is to calm your system down before you meet with your boss.
Try a few relaxation techniques like deep breathing to signal your brain that you are safe, taking a short walk around the block (or the office floor) or listening to calming nature sounds on YouTube. These are effective strategies to calm down your system.
Sleep: JOYVIAL executive health coach MJ shared that a number of her clients have seen their cravings subside when they finally got enough sleep at night. Lack of sleep increases hunger hormones and leaves you jittery before the day even starts. Get solid rest. Your brain will thank you and craving will reduce.
Develop a support network: Don’t deal with the struggles on your own. Talk to friends you trust or maybe connect with a professional support group. Also, some of our health coaches are well experienced in helping you overcome cravings.
4. Have a go-to routine:
The time span of you initially having a craving and it subsiding can often be just a matter of 15-20 minutes. Executive health coach Lisa suggests that you create a ritual or at least a sample menu of the things you can do in those 20 minutes to overcome the cravings.
One of Lisa’s clients decided to opt for her favorite hot cup of tea at night rather than wine when coming home from work. She realized that by making this shift she felt she respected herself more than when overindulging in wine. She created a new evening ritual.
What can bring you back in balance in those critical moments? Can you go to your husband and get a loving hug? Can you grab a piece of fruit and enjoy its sweet taste while going for a walk? What will calm you down in those moments?
None of us like to be chained to any cravings. Is it time for you to believe in a future where you are free of your unwanted habits? Click the 'Contact' button in the top right corner or simply send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your free discovery session.
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