If you’ve ever found yourself face-to-face with a craving…you know, the kind that you see coming. The kind that haunts your thoughts for hours … sometimes even days … before you cave? The kind of craving that is the demise of your commitment to healthy eating. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year.
Yeah, that one.
If you know what I’m talking about, this post is definitely worth your time.
I want to take a few minutes to share with you the strategy that will help you get that craving out of your life – once and for all.
Let me just start by getting the bad news out of the way.
Cravings control you. You don’t control your cravings.
Now, we all know this at some level, but it’s funny how we’re so convinced that we’re in control and if we can just overpower the craving, we will win.
Not how it works.
How it Really Works
Hormones are what drives our cravings toward certain foods and actions. If you’re female, you’ve probably trained yourself to notice them at certain times of the month. But, hormones are at work in our bodies every day.
Hormones are what drives your body to store fat, to maintain a certain set point, to exercise (or not), to sleep (or not).
We have a hard time wrapping our head around this as far as our daily life, so let’s use a more obvious example of hormones at work – like during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, hormones drive the female body to do what needs to be done to host that new life. Our minds have little to do with it (even though we read book after book trying to make sure we ‘do it right’).
My first pregnancy at 23, I gained 75 pounds. (That’s kind of a big no-no these days. It should be more like 25-35 pounds). I remember that from Day 1 of that pregnancy, I was twice as hungry. I could eat double what I ate before and I needed to eat a lot more frequently than I was used to.
At that age, I didn’t have the best diet, so three years later when I began my second pregnancy, I was determined, determined to make sure I didn’t gain more than 35 pounds. I ate much healthier, I exercised more, I did it all by the book. And, what happened? I gained 75 pounds. Again.
Why would that happen? Twice. Obviously, my body knows what it needs to do to carry a baby. And, that was it. Got the job done.
Both times, as soon as the pregnancy was over, my appetite went back to normal and my hormones took me right back to where I started from (eventually).
The same is true for what causes that baby to grow. The baby doesn’t decide to grow…it just grows.
You get the point, right? Hormones drive how our bodies operate. And, you’ve experienced this in some capacity in your own life (especially if you live with teenagers).
What to Do About It
As a health coach, people come to me saying… “I know what I need to do. I just have to stop eating…(fill in the blank).” Maybe it’s that bag of chips in the evening, or the Ben & Jerry’s two weeks out of the month, or that glass of wine (or dare I say, two).
We have in our minds that if we could just ‘fix’ that one thing, we would magically be the weight we want to be and would finally achieve our health and fitness goals.
It’s as if it’s the one obstacle we have to overcome.
The problem with this approach is … that craving (the chips, ice cream, cheese, wine) is not the problem, but rather, the symptom. So, trying to tackle that one food is like applying a bandage to your foot when it’s your hand that is bleeding.
Does that make sense?
I heard a great analogy the other day by Gary Taubes that demonstrates this point.
Imagine you see a room full of people and there’s a buzz of energy in the room as people continually enter the room. You stop the guy at the door and say, “Why are there so many people in that room? What’s going on?” And, he answers, “Well, there are so many people in the room because more people have gone into the room than have come out.”
That’s stating the obvious, right? Not very helpful. Sure, he answered your question and yes, it was an accurate response, but it does nothing to explain to you WHY there are so many people in the room.
It’s the same with the cravings. It’s not the bag of chips that is the problem. It’s understanding why you have that craving in the first place. That craving for the bag of chips may have more to do with what you ate for breakfast than you realize. Or it might be driven by that seemingly innocent no-calorie diet soda. Or it may have nothing to do with what you ate and everything to do with the amount of sleep you did or didn’t have the night before.
So many things go into driving (and even hi-jacking) our hormones. But, until you figure out the cause, you’ll never end the symptom.
Work Smart, Not Hard
Instead of trying to ‘conquer’ your craving, you can outsmart it instead.
- Start your day with a strong breakfast (healthy carbs, protein and fat) every day. It’s amazing what this does to curb cravings.
- Watch your meal timing. Eat something every 2-3 hours to keep your blood sugar consistent.
- Minimize or eliminate added sugars. Read your food labels and make sure you do not exceed 24 grams a day (better yet, get that number as close to zero as possible)
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Find ways to let go of stress – meditation, yoga, walking, exercise, dance
These are just a few of the simple things you can do that will absolutely transform what drives you. If you need any support with this stuff or you’d like to dig in deep and really understand how to get your body to shift from craving the ‘bad’ to craving the ‘good’, we just opened enrollment for our online coaching program designed specifically for eliminating cravings and losing weight the healthy way. We’re also happy to work with you privately to figure out the missing piece of the puzzle so you can put that craving behind you for good.
It’s an amazing feeling when you watch that thing that had such power over you, melt away. And, it’s often easier than you think.
Don’t suffer and struggle with a craving – instead let’s make it disappear! Are you ready?