Cravings vs Hunger
Understanding the difference between physical hunger and psychological cravings can make a big difference to your overall success
What is a craving?
At times, your mind may trick your body. When you eat, are you responding to physical hunger or to psychological cravings?
After a large meal, do you still want dessert? When someone mentions a food you love, do you feel like eating? When you drive by a fast food restaurant, do you want to eat? If you said yes, you may be having psychological cravings.
It’s important to know your cravings from real hunger. Some examples of physical hunger are your stomach growling, a gnawing feeling in your stomach, or feeling light-headed if it’s been a long time since you ate. Once you can tell cravings from hunger, we will work on anti-craving techniques.
Pay attention to when you want to eat. Does something other than actual hunger make you crave food? Do you feel like you’re hungry when someone offers you food? Does eating help you satisfy bad feelings? Review your entries in your food planner and tracker. Can you spot the occasions when you’ve given in to food cravings? Noting so will help you watch out for situations that make it hard to resist eating.
Take charge of your cravings!
When you have a craving, what can you do? Distraction can help you ignore a craving. It works best if you have a good imagination or can change activities or thoughts in an instant. When you feel a craving coming on, do something else. Think about something wonderful, plan a dream vacation, or do anything to take your attention away from the urge to eat. You may only have to do this for a few moments. Most cravings pass within minutes or even seconds.
If you are bombarded by cravings throughout the day, you may do better by confronting the cravings. The confrontation approach pits you against the craving. Let’s say you want to raid the refrigerator for ice cream. You could pretend the urge is another person trying to convince you to eat the ice cream. Tell this person why you will not give in. Or, you can imagine the ice cream container beckoning and trying to tempt you. Think how silly it would be to let the ice cream get the best of you.
Here is a sample confrontation scene: While driving home from work you get the urge to stop for a snack. You recognize the craving and decide to get the best of it. You say, “You nasty craving! You want me to stop for peanut butter cups when I’m not really hungry. I'll show you who’s the boss. I am in charge of my own life and my weight.”
You can think of these 2 approaches and decide which can work for you. If you are in doubt, experiment with both, and try to determine quickly which of these strategies works for you. This will help prepare you for the cravings you will face. Do your best not to give in.