Last week we discussed using affirmations to draw into our lives those things we want and need. This week I want to talk about using affirmations to attack our cravings and food struggle.
First, what is a craving? It is an urgent, endlessly persistent demand that we eat a food we know will be harmful to us. It is “an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing”, according to Merriam Webster.
A food craving is an intense desire for a specific food. This desire can seem uncontrollable, and while “experts” say that food cravings last only about 3-5 minutes, it often feels irresistible, uncontrollable, and never-ending. A client once told me, “I’d been craving them desperately for days, so I decided to just go eat them and get it over with.” Another describes it as very intense and all encompassing – “If I were on a plane heading straight down, it would be, “Yes, I know we’re heading for a crash! I’ll fix it, just let me eat this first!” Every person experiences cravings differently. Cravings are nearly always for the food you know you should not eat.
Where are your food cravings located? Usually they are not in the body, but in the brain. They are in the regions of the brain that are responsible for memory, pleasure, and reward. An imbalance of hormones, such as leptin and serotonin, can cause food cravings. Sometimes they are due to endorphins that are released into the body after one has eaten. Most often, they are a mental response to unpleasant feelings or memories, or the need for comfort.
Cravings can sometimes originate in the body. This can be due to lack of fluids or to a deficiency in certain nutrients.
Here are some strategies for handling cravings:
- DO NOT DELAY!!! You must respond immediately or the situation will get worse rapidly.
- Take three deep breaths. Calm down as much as you can.
- Interview the craving. “Who are you and what do you want here?” Is it hunger, thirst, stress, the presence of your trigger foods, or an uncomfortable feeling?
- What do I really need? Ask the wise recovering person inside you, to tell you what would help. Or ask yourself what a sponsor or mentor would say. Or call one and ask.
- Where are you with recovery work? With spirituality? Do those areas need more attention?
Stress may cause cravings on its own. It results in higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which may promote your cravings. How stressed are you?
Hunger and thirst can produce very similar sensations in the mind, causing it to become confused. One of the easiest ways to reduce food cravings is to make sure the body is hydrated throughout the day. So, get a bottle of water or a cup of tea.
Many studies have shown that not getting enough sleep could alter the body’s hormonal balance. This imbalance contributes to your cravings.
Where are you in your food plan? Are you eating enough? Are you getting all your protein and fat? Under-eating can make food cravings worse. A healthful diet does not include frequent hunger pangs. In fact, when the body is very hungry, it may crave more calorie-dense foods than usual, including fried and processed foods.
Are you eating some questionable foods that may be triggering you? This is SOO important! If there is a new food or a questionable food in your diet, the first symptom of physical intolerance is cravings.
So, if you start craving something, take a deep breath. Call someone you trust if you can. Ask Higher Power to send help and wisdom. Get some ice water or some hot tea; maybe a good book, your knitting, or your favorite magazine. Or allow yourself a good cry if that is what’s needed.
Changing habits is hard work. Your old eating habits will try to come back for a long time. Start new habits to replace them. If you have a craving, handle it right away!!
I think the hardest habits to change are the thoughts in your mind. Many of these are things you have been told since childhood, they led to your problems with food, and they help maintain them.
Either a thought supports your new way of living and eating, or you need to change the thought. Confront it. Reject it. Tell it you no longer want to hear that stuff. Then replace it with a thought that reflects your new goals. Here are some examples of positive affirmations. Choose or create the ones that express what you want to attract into your life.
Make them positive, present tense, and believable! Change them to fit what you really want to create. Set up about five of them and post them where you will see them regularly. Now when the negative thoughts come, repeat these sentences instead.
I am choosing to take better care of my body.
This is my new way of living and eating.
I am choosing to change my food, eating, and other habits to create the life I want.
I deserve the life I want. Even if it does not seem true right now, I choose to become the person I was meant to be.
Through this struggle is where I will grow, and I am grateful for this guidance and experience.
I want to create a life that makes me happy.
I am becoming more courageous and willing to take risks for the things I want.
My life is full of possibilities; I can have or create a life that makes me happy.
In my struggles, I am discovering another piece of who I am meant to be.
I am meant to be strong, powerful, joyful, and full of love and life!
I am worth the love I have and the love that I will have.
I am learning to appreciate every moment of my life.
I know it sounds nutty at first to start saying these sentences when you are struggling with a food craving, but try it! You will find that this really helps a lot! Check out my Instagram posts for more inspirational affirmations.
As we approach the change of season, I want to ask you a question: what would you like to see in these blogs? More recipes? Label reading? Recovery strategies? Please answer in the comments or send me an email. Have a great week!
Blessings to you,