I recently had a session with one of my dieters centered on cravings and we came up with a “Cheat Sheet” of important things for him to remember about cravings based on his own experiences and new things we discussed in session. I sent him home with the homework of reading this at least once a day for the next week so that he becomes more and more familiarized with these ideas. Here it is:
Cravings go away one of two ways: either when I decide to definitely give in to it, OR when I decide definitely not to give in to it.
Usually when I’m having a craving there is a sense of anxiety attached to it (Will I give in? Will I stand strong?). The moment I decide one way or the other, the craving starts to diminish. If I decide to give in to the craving, it starts to go away even before I put food in my mouth because the anxiety related to having to make the decision goes away.
Cravings do not just get worse and worse and worse until I can’t stand them. They will ALWAYS go away, even if I never eat a bite of food.
The more and more times I resist cravings, the easier it will be for me to do so because I build up evidence that proves that I can withstand them and that they do always go away.
At worst, a craving might last 15 minutes, but it will go away MUCH more quickly if I distract myself.
What to do when I’m having a craving:
1. Label it. This is just a craving, it doesn’t mean I have to give in. Just because I want to eat this right now doesn’t mean I should.
2. Firmly make the decision to NOT give in.
3. Distract myself. The moment my attention is on something else is the moment the craving starts to go away. If I’m highly distracted, there is no way I’ll be able to focus on the craving.
Things to try to distract myself: check emails, search the internet for interesting things, take a walk, call a friend, play a word game on my phone.
When I’m having a craving, remind myself, “THIS IS TIME LIMITED. I will not be feeling this craving forever.”
Every single time I have a craving I have the opportunity to either strengthen my tendency to give in, or my tendency to not give in. This is why every single time matters because every single time will reinforce one of these things.
When I’m having a craving, the more I focus on that craving, the worse it will get. The more I distract myself, the less and less I’ll think about it. Just like an itch – the more you focus on an itch the itchier it becomes. When I get distracted, the itch goes away.
It’s worth it to me to not give in to cravings because it will enable me to get everything on my Advantages List!