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How to Healthfully Handle Food Cravings

eating chocolateEver want to eat something so badly you felt overpowered by it? If so, you’ve experienced a food craving. Wanting something is natural, but our “inner voices” sure know how to get in our way of having it. Instead of actually enjoying the taste of a food – be it fresh, cold watermelon or a piece of lovely dark chocolate, we can get caught up in that emotional feeling of satisfying a craving. There’s no freedom in this kind of eating.

Cravings in general do not have to necessarily be “bad” things. It’s all in how you respond to them. In this post, I’ll explain how to healthfully handle cravings.

Identify Your Type of Inner Voice – and Squash It!

Reflect on the last time you had a memorable craving, what “voice” did you hear?

The Seductive Seller

“You know you want me. I’m sooooo good. You deserve it. You worked so hard.” The seductive seller accentuates all the positive aspects of the food and none of the negative. It preys on the food-as-reward mentality (which is a dieter’s trap). The problem is responding mindlessly to the food seduction rarely gives you the satisfaction you are actually looking for. Maybe you don’t even need food. Maybe you need a hug or a kiss – or some sleep! Don’t let the seductive seller sweet-talk you. Make sure when you choose to eat something you take your time and enjoy each and every bite.

The Inner Critic

“You are so weak. You fail at everything you do and you’re going to fail at this, too.” The inner critic is all about demoralizing and sap motivation techniques. The self-hate it perpetuates is toxic to your well-being. Listening to these messages makes you more vulnerable to them. Next time you hear the inner critic come out, confront it. Be aware that these are just words flowing through your mind. You don’t have to follow them.

Respond to Cravings with Awareness and Mindfulness

friends at coffee shopAs I said at the top of this post, cravings don’t have to be a bad thing. You are in control. Recognize a craving when it comes on, squash the voice and choose to take a mindful approach. Ask yourself “am I hungry or do I need something else?”. Maybe you need some rest, a hot bubble bath, or a chat with a close friend.

If you do feel hungry or if you just want to respond to the craving even though you know you’re not, it’s OK. Giving yourself permission to respond to cravings can be very liberating. But make sure you choose a reasonable portion size of your food and really take the time to slow down and enjoy each wonderful bite. Notice the taste and the pleasure it brings you. Experience it with all your senses. You may not even finish it before feeling completely satisfied. So stop early.

Taking the mindful approach to cravings is a healthy way of living a life you deserve. Next time you have a craving, embrace it!

September 2nd, 2009

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