Want to make a food craving go away? Try satisfying it. Learn how to identify what you really want and honor it in todays Wellness Wednesday post.
Want to know how to make a food craving go away?
The simple answer? Satisfy it.
But of course, that answer doesn't make for the best blog post, so let's delve into the long version.
To start, it's important to understand that cravings essentially come from three places. First, there's emotional cravings. It may present as a desire to eat a box of chocolate chip cookies, but at it's root, the craving is really an unmet emotional need. While the cookies might temporarily make you feel better by serving as a distraction, in the long run it doesn't do much good because that emotional need that needs attention.
Other times the craving stems from hunger. When you haven't fueled yourself adequately, either by not eating enough or going too long between meals and snacks, that hunger may also look like an uncontrollable desire to delve into a box of chocolate chip cookies (or really anything that provides a quick source of calories). But in this case, any food will do, as long as it provides substance.
But sometimes you experience a specific food craving because, well, you just really want to eat that specific food. It’s a taste craving. Maybe it's because you saw an ad with a big, juicy burger on TV and it looked really tasty. Or perhaps you're just in the mood for a big plate of greasy Chinese takeout. Or maybe you passed by the window of a local bakery and spotted a delicious looking chocolate chip cookie, and suddenly, visions of chocolate chip cookies are dancing through your head. That's what happened to me last week.
I could have lit a stress relieving candle or done five minutes of deep breathing meditation. It would have been lovely, but it would not have been the chocolate chip cookie I was craving. I could have also made myself a nice balanced snack, like peanut butter and an apple or cheese with whole grain crackers. As much as I love apples and peanut butter and cheese and crackers, it would have tasted like sad diet food because alas, it's not a chocolate chip cookie. None of these things would have satisfied my craving.
Nope, the only way to make that chocolate chip cookie craving go away so it wasn't consuming all my thoughts, was to actually eat a chocolate chip cookie. And no, not a diet chocolate chip cookie or a few chocolate chips in peanut butter, but an actual big, buttery chocolate chip cookie.
So that's what I did. And guess what? I'm not craving a chocolate chip cookie anymore, not even after writing this post in which I've typed the word chocolate chip cookie out twelve times. That's because my craving was satisfied. I am satisfied.
The only catch? Satisfying a food craving requires more than just eating the food you're craving. If you're eating it while distracted with TV or feelings of guilt, you're not going to notice the rich chocolate chips melting on your tongue or the hints of vanilla shining through. If you're not allowing yourself to savor said chocolate chip cookie, the craving isn't truly satisfied, and more than likely, that chocolate chip cookie will continue to haunt your thoughts.
If you've spent years denying yourself cravings, I know this may seem really overwhelming. And truthfully, in practice, learning to honor your cravings can be more complicated than I've laid out. You may not even know what you're really craving at first, especially if you have a history of covering up emotions with food or ignoring hunger cues. So start at page 1. Simply get in the practice of pausing and asking yourself "what do I really want right now." And then honor that desire, even if you're not 100% completely sure you've pinpointed it correctly. With time, you'll get back in touch with your needs, and in the habit of satisfying them.
Hit diet rock bottom?
If you can't stomach the idea of another diet, but don't know where else to turn, I'm excited to announce that me and two of my fellow non-diet dietitians are launching a self study version of our popular 6-week online wellness program, Joyful Eating, Nourished Life. Head there to sign up for our mailing list so you can be the first to know when it officially launches! Need more personalized support? I also offer individual nutrition coaching and we are also running our live Joyful Eating program again in April, where you'll receive unlimited access to a private facebook group for support.