We all have cravings right? When we are dieting, they are even more apparent. Why does our brain immediately want us to go grab some chips, cookies, or ice cream when we start to get lean and see our abs?! Cravings don’t just appear when you start dieting; they are a very real thing every day for many people, myself included. So how do we get rid of these cravings, or even better, how do we SATISFY these cravings without losing track of our health and fitness goals? Lets cover some methods on how to do this.
First off, we should note that cravings affect nearly 95% of women and almost 70% of men. Cravings are a natural feeling for us to have, not just when we diet. There have been a few studies showing that our brain reacts in a very similar way when we consume junk foods, as it does when an individual snorts cocaine or does drugs. Food is addictive and this can be a very dangerous problem for many people. There is no pill, health professional, diet, or anything of those sorts that will help solve this problem. However, there are a few things that can help contribute to a solution.
Moderation. Moderation is the key to controlling cravings. The more aggressive the diet, the more likely you are to fail, give in to cravings, and binge eat. There is no reason why you cannot consume some of your favorite foods in moderation on a daily basis, while still being right on track with your health and fitness goals (read my Flexible Dieting blog). The more you restrict a certain food, and the longer you go without satisfying your craving, it will only be a matter of time before you binge eat and feel depressed.
Forget about it. Too often, people will eat something they didn’t “intend” to eat while dieting or trying to eat healthy. Giving in to the craving is not the problem; it’s the actions that follow that are destroying your progress. Many people will cheat on their nutrition program or give in to a craving (myself included) and then say, “Ahh, I already fell off my plan… I’m just going to eat whatever I want for the rest of the day and start fresh tomorrow morning.” This is the WORST thing that you can do. What you need to do is simply eat the food, and MOVE ON. Forget about it, get back on track, eat your next meal exactly as it says on your program, and continue to move forward.
Get out of your own head. I understand that we all slip up from time to time, but guess what… no one else is responsible for eating those cookies other than you. There is no one there telling you that you have to go eat the food you are craving, or shoving ice cream down your throat. You have to realize that it is YOU who controls what you eat, no one else. Take some responsibility and hold yourself accountable for your actions, rather than blaming other people, circumstances, and your environment. Cravings are all mental. When you feel that craving come into your head, ask yourself, “Do I really need this food? Am I going to feel good after eating this or am I going to be disappointed in myself?” Evaluate your situation and take it from there.
Discipline. Nothing will ever be a substitute for discipline. And to have great discipline, you need to have a big enough “why” for what you do. If your goals do not mean enough to you, you will give in and fail. For example, a competitor who is getting ready for a competition believing that he/she is going to win, will be approaching their training and nutrition much different than someone who doesn’t believe they will do well and just wants to get experience. How much do your goals mean to you? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to achieve them? Do you believe that you can become a champion? Discipline is the bridge between goals and achievement.
I hope that these methods help you along your journey. And remember, we all have cravings, AND WE ALL CAN FIND WAYS TO OVERCOME THEM.
Train hard and train smart.