Before we start doling out the advice, let’s look at the science. First of all, it’s important to distinguish between different types of cravings.
According to Psychology of Eating’s Marc David, there are three kinds of cravings: Supportive cravings, dispersive cravings and associated cravings. Supportive cravings are your body telling you that you need something – a vitamin, a mineral, a food that has a biochemical effect that will balance your hormones. That sort of thing!
A dispersive craving is the “bad” kind. Marc explains that humans are constantly yearning for meaning, excitement and experience. According to his theory, our cravings for sweet, salty, fatty and otherwise are an extension of that.
Last, associated cravings. Associated cravings are a longing for food that we have a deep emotional connection to. Craving the casserole your mum often made when you were growing up is a good example of this emotionally-charged form of craving.
This list is mostly about stomping out dispersive cravings but could be helpful if you’re struggling with persistent associated cravings as well. Read on for our list of five ways to get over cravings and move on with your day!
Categorise your craving
Just recognising what kind of craving it is might be helpful. Using the three craving types above as a guide, try to figure out WHY you’re craving that bag of chips. Not only will it help you understand your body’s behaviour a bit better, it’ll also force you into a place of mindfulness.
Don’t ingest during stress
Minimising stress in your life is an entirely different issue. But in relation to cravings, if you’re going through a particularly stressful time, meal prep like crazy. According to Psychology Today, stress essentially paralyzes the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which stifles our judgement, impairs concentration and diminishes our ability to regulate behaviour. You’ll be very vulnerable to unhealthy eating during stressful times, so pre-prepare healthy meals and bring healthy snacks to work.
See the light
A respected and widely-implemented Cognitive Behavioural Model by Dr Alan Marlatt likens cravings to ocean waves. They build and build and build… but then they peak and recede. Recognising that cravings WILL pass can help you take control of the situation.
A change of environment is generally recognised as one of the most impactful strategies for beating addiction. If you’ve been having a soft drink at your desk at 3pm every day for a month, you’ve come to expect that soft drink on a deeper level than you may have realised. We’re creatures of habit and even if that habit is unhealthy, our bodies like the predictability of it. Leaving the room and taking a quick stroll should help you rationalise and resist.
Hydrate to feel great
Hydration always manages to sneak into our articles. But only because adequate hydration has a profound impact on health! It won’t completely stop cravings on its own, but drinking enough water every single day will make a difference when you pair it our other crave-curbing strategies.