When it comes to conquering a craving, the struggle is real!
Don't let your emotions hijack your logic; try following these five steps to conquer your cravings.
1. When you have a craving, delay eating for 10 minutes. Rather than telling yourself “no,” tell yourself to wait.
2. Reflect on and identify the excuse. While you’re waiting, take a moment to reflect. Be honest with yourself and dig deep! Ask yourself:
- Why do I want to eat this?
- How am I feeling? Is something bothering me or is there something I need to do or face that I’m avoiding? What’s triggering my desire to eat? Are there emotions behind my craving?
- Am I truly hungry? Think about the six cues of emotional eating versus physical hunger. The more aware you are of your hunger cues, the more in tune you become with what your body is telling you.
If you’re truly hungry, EAT. If not, keep reading!
3. Write it down. Logging helps track your patterns, holds you accountable and can prevent emotional excuses from taking control. You can do this in an existing diary or journal, keep track on your computer, or if you're looking for a method already organized and tailored to you, try our FfL food log that is designed specifically for emotional eating.
4. Try an alternative to eating that fulfills you emotionally. Consider keeping a list so when a craving really kicks in you can make a different choice without hesitation. Consider different environments, such as home versus work, and different emotions, such as sadness versus stress.
If you’re bored, anxious or stressed:
- Chew some minty gum. (This may sound silly, but it can have a similar effect on your psyche as eating and can alleviate stress.)
- Pamper yourself! Treat yourself to some hot tea, a face mask, a manicure or meditation to let some feel-good vibes flow.
- If you’re bored, do something to keep your mind busy, such as a project, hobby or even cleaning!
If you’re sad or lonely:
- Call someone who uplifts you.
- Read a few pages of an uplifting or funny book.
- Write an encouraging card to someone special. It’s not just a saying, gratitude truly does encourage a positive attitude.
- Journal about it.
If you’re tired:
- Brush your teeth. (Again, this may sound silly, but it may just do the trick.)
- Get up, take a walk, work out, just get moving! Fitness releases feel-good endorphins.
- Listen to some of your favorite feel-good music.
If you struggle at work:
- Avoid trigger areas as much as possible, such as vending machines, the break room or cafeteria.
- Keep a healthy alternative around that you can eat instead.
5. Finally, if you still struggle with control, get rid of your favorite comfort foods.
For Kalie, it’s peanut butter.
"Whenever I’m having a rough day, my belly hurts, I’m stressed, you name it emotionally, I CRAVE peanut butter.
I must have it.
It’s all I think about.
The worst part? Once I start eating it, logic seems to leave me and I struggle to stop. I end up in the kitchen with a spoon in one hand and an open peanut butter jar in the other. I eat a few bites, regain control and put it away. Somehow, 15 minutes later I’ve talked myself BACK into the kitchen.
My solution to the problem? Knowing peanut butter is my go-to comfort food, I rarely keep it in the house. Instead, I enjoy it in a controlled environment, such as on a bagel when I go out to breakfast."
We know it sounds rough, but when your comfort foods aren’t readily available, you have a better chance of saying no to emotional eating.
So, think about it. Do you have a go-to comfort food that you crave when you eat emotionally? If the answer is yes, you may want to consider removing it from your pantry, at least until you get a handle on the emotional aspect of things. If you struggle with foods that are accessible at work, keep healthy snacks around that you can grab instead. Even though you may still eat emotionally, at least you’ll choose a healthier option.
- Track your patterns over the next 2 weeks in the Daily Emotional Eating Log and Weekly Emotional Eating Review and evaluate.
- Familiarize yourself with and follow the steps listed above any time a craving comes on.
- Create a list of healthy alternatives that you can try next time you have a craving. Consider different environments and emotions.
- Contemplate removing your go-to comfort foods from the house while you’re working on your emotional eating.
- Remind yourself that it’s okay to eat out of emotion occasionally, but not in excess or on a consistent basis.