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Cravings Are Not About Willpower

Updated: Mar 21, 2023

So often in my life and in my coaching practice, I hear myself & my clients say that we haven't felt "strong enough" to "beat" our cravings. Or, when talking about foods we crave, we call them our "weakness".... Sound familiar? Well, I want you to know that your cravings are not about your strengths and weaknesses. We crave all kinds of things, for all kinds of reasons. It could be emotional, physical, mental, or any variety of other reasons that we crave something.

Controlling cravings is not about willpower. It is very much about your mindset around food and the practical strategies and steps that you take each day. THAT is what we will be chatting about today.

 
 

I was a sweets fanatic. I used to have the biggest sweet tooth. I felt like I had no control around sugar. I thought about it, I craved it, I wanted it, and then I found it.


Do I still love a good cupcake? Of course... but a few things have changed since then:

  • the way I think and feel around cravings

  • the habits I have cultivated, proactively, that help me to manage my cravings on a regular basis


First I want to share with you some practices that you can do to proactively manage your cravings. Get yourself into the right mind-body space so that the cravings are less likely.


  1. Drinking water: So simple, yet so powerful. Staying hydrated keeps your mood elevated, manage your hunger, improves your digestion. These things all lead you to be less likely to have cravings for fun foods.

  2. Manage Stress: I know this is easier said than done. But we also know that cravings amplify with our emotions. So we have to think about the strategies we have to manage our stress & emotions.

  3. Sleep: Food is fuel. Our bodies need calories to produce energy. So, when we're tired, our bodies are seeking more energy. We gravitate even more toward foods that are energy dense (aka: calorie dense)

  4. Eat Nutritiously: What we eat regularly in our meals, matters. We want to make sure that we are regularly eating:

    1. meals that are high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

    2. enough food

    3. foods that taste good and are satisfying our taste buds

 

When we are hydrated, managing our stress, well rested, and fueling our bodies properly, it helps to manage those cravings before they hit. Does that mean you'll immediately stop having them? Absolutely not.


You might walk into work today and your boss decided to buy donuts for everyone. From Paula's, none-the-less.


You might have a birthday this week where they're serving pizza and cake.


Maybe it's a holiday and you know there's going to be all the pies.


And it's OKAY to enjoy those things. BECAUSE you are eating nutritiously, you are resting efficiently, you are managing your stress, and you are hydrating. Most of the time. So give yourself some slack.


But when those pesky cravings are really overwhelming you, and you need even a bit more support, we have mindset shifts.


We all know that thoughts lead to beliefs, beliefs become values, and values instruct our behaviors. Mindset Shifts are ways we can actually change the thoughts we have, which can completely change the outcome of our behaviors.

 

Old thought: I want this because I'm stressed

Problem: Food is not an emotional solution. I know this might be hard to hear, because food can be comforting - they call it comfort food for a reason. If you're stressed or having a problem, is eating half a tray of brownies actually going to solve your problem or reduce your stress? Probably, just the opposite. Now, we're just stressed and full of brownies.

New Mindset: I'm stressed, what am I choosing to do to reduce my stress?


Old thought: I've been really good. I earned this.

Problem: Food is not something to be earned. It is not a reward. Food is Fuel. You get to eat food, any food, whether you've finished your work or not. Whether you've eaten french fries all week, or not. Whether you got that job promotion, or not. Over restriction LEADS to overindulgence. So if we do not eat foods we enjoy all week long, we make it to the weekend and end up over indulging them.

New thought: I've worked really hard. I deserve a self-care day.


Old thought: I ate all my vegetables, so I can have dessert.

Problem: We've been trained our whole lives to give "fun foods" a place on a pedestal. Doesn't that put dessert on a place, just out of reach, and make it feel like there is nothing else as good, or desirable, as dessert foods? Take the forbidden, desired feeling away from desserts. Research shows that this actually de-sensitizes us to those foods, taking a little bit of it's power away. And getting it back into your own hands.

New thought: I can eat fun foods whenever I want, and I choose when I want to eat them.

 

You are strong. And you are smart. You are capable of doing hard things; you are capable of doing anything you want to. I wholeheartedly believe that! And I also believe that it is normal to have cravings that you don't feel able to beat and that feel out of your control, especially when it comes to foods that are full of sugar, fat, sodium... Those taste good to humans! You are human!


Food is fuel. Food is energy. Food is delicious. And, we as humans can make the choices about when we are indulging or engaging in different foods when we are listening to our bodies and making nutritious choices.

 

Head over to Instagram and find me at @bewellwithsteph_ to comment on my weekly podcast post and let us know your thoughts - how do these mindset shifts surrounding cravings make you feel? What are you still wondering about?

 

Wondering if Nutrition Coaching might be a good fit for you and your struggles or goals? Let’s book a free Discovery Call and have a chat! More info & book here.

 

You are worthy of living and capable of creating a healthy lifestyle you love. 🤍

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