It goes without saying that food cravings are our worst enemy when trying to successfully lose weight.
Temptations are all around us. Biscuits in the staff room, your daughters food tech flapjacks on the countertop.. there is no getting away from it.
And when the craving strikes, it usually strikes HARD!
After all, our brains are primed for survival. So your brain will send out incredibly powerful signals to force you into hunting down, capturing and demolishing that donut..
..it's usually just a matter of how long until we give in. This of c
ourse will put up a big wall in-between you and your weight loss goals.
How To Beat A Craving
I want to explain what NOT to do when trying to fight off a craving
1) Trying to stop one
Don't underestimate the power of a craving. They will keep coming back with a mighty fight.
2) Distracting yourself
You'd assume distracting yourself would be the best way to fight off a craving however it's far from the best method. Has anyone ever asked you to try not to image a polar bear. As soon as they say it, of course you start to imagine a polar bear.
The same goes for trying to distract yourself and ignoring a craving.
3) Talking yourself out of it
Human beings are great at rationalising. Think how many times you have come up with 10 reasons why you deserve that takeaway. So why would you believe you could talk yourself out of a craving? More like talk yourself into it!
Now you know what not to do when a craving strikes.. here's exactly what I want you to do.
First, we need to look at the journey of a craving.
I want you to view a craving like a wave. What do waves do? They rise.. and they fall.
Although there may be many cravings in the past that you have given into, I bet there are just as many times that a craving struck, only to be forgotten about an hour later.
So this is proof that a craving will eventually go away which is key to the urge surfing method you are about to learn about.
But in the mean time, back to the waves.
A wave gets bigger as it generates momentum. It then peaks and finally falls. Just like a food craving.
Often cravings start with a trigger. Usually an emotional trigger such as a stressful work day or simply seeing a food ad on the TV. Once the beast (aka the craving) has been triggered, the intensity starts to build.
Usually at this point the craving is so intense that the majority of us give in and eat.
But what if we didn't give in at this point? What if we sat with the craving and watched it climax then subside?
Urge surfing and riding waves
There is a mindfulness practise known as urge surfing which was first described by Alan Marlatt, Ph.D. who is a leading psychologist in the field of addiction.
The problem when cravings hit is that it leaves the individual feeling powerless. A bit like if you were swimming in the sea and waves kept crashing down on you. You'd feel like you were going to sink.
Urge surfing encourages you to instead learn to surf and ride the wave gently back to shore.
How can I apply it?
So, the next time a craving strikes here is what you can do.
Let's say you are really craving a biscuit from the biscuit tin.
Go and get yourself nice and comfortable in a room free from distraction.
You could even place the biscuit tin in front of you.
Remain calm and focused. It's important to tune into how you are feeling in your body and what your thoughts are. Are you experiencing feelings of anxiety? Maybe you are feeling tension in your body.
Make a mental note of these feelings.
Now feel the urge begin to rise. Let it happen.
The idea of urge surfing is to actually experience the urge happening but not act on it. Imagine you are on a surf board.
Maybe you can even identify the exact moment the urge begins to hit its peak.
Breathe through the craving. The breath in urge surfing is the surfboard. This is going to help you ride out the wave. Your breathing should be slow and deep. Breathe in through your nose, into the stomach and then take at least 5 seconds per inhale and exhale.
I have found a great app which will take you through up to 30 minutes of this deep breathing with a visual. Here is the link https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/the-breathing-app/id1285982210
The peak of the craving will feel the most tricky. But if you can hang on in there, then you will work through it and the craving will soon subside. Remember, a craving is just like a wave. Once it hits its peak it has to fall back down.
This urge surfing strategy is a lot more effective than just trying to distract yourself for 15 minutes. Urge surfing teaches you to sit with the craving, identify your thoughts and feelings in the moment and will teach you to deal with cravings directly instead of avoiding them.
If you would like to learn more about this urge surfing technique or start putting it into practise with accountability from a coach then get in touch through my website.