For most people, how to stop food cravings is an exercise in behavior modification as the food craving is a reflex, and that reflex is tied to a chemical/hormonal response.
Reflexive behavior cycles are modified or broken through a series of mini interventions that break the focus of one pattern and redirect the focus to the positive behavior you want to become reflexive.
When we seek professional help from any industry, we often find that along with their expertise, they use tools that we don’t have or are unfamiliar with their proper use. With this in mind, I present…
A Model on How to Stop Food Cravings
Step 1 – Check Your Mind
- When you get the craving, stop and Check Your Mind, to discover what you think and feel at that moment. Your very first thought and feeling is what you want to discover. Now decide if you like what you think or feel. There is no right or wrong answer, just an opportunity to pull what’s in your sub-conscious mind to your conscious mind. You see, we are bundles of conditioned reflexes and as such, most of our decisions are the result of deposits made to our sub-conscious minds. Mostly, we reference our sub-conscious in making conscious choices. Until you discover what sub-consciously drives your food cravings, you are only left with willpower and short term tactical tricks that can rarely be maintained long term.
Step 2 – Acts of Compassion
- Quickly write down what you discovered when you Checked Your Mind. Then write down up to 5 actionable ideas that you can take right now to show compassion or help someone outside of yourself or your family. The further removed from people or things you directly care about, the more powerful and effective the act of compassion becomes. Regardless of how your food craves came to be, they exist and continue to be nourished by through preoccupation with satisfying your personal needs/wants.
Acts of compassion have the opposite effect, in that they require you to place your attention on the well being of someone other than yourself. This is not a simple distraction technique. Rather, just as the craving/compulsion cycles are reinforced by specific neurological/hormonal dynamic, acts of compassion have their own neurological/hormonal dynamic that don’t have the power to reinforce your cravings.
- Do it now! It can be a physical action or simply a heartfelt wish to anybody outside your family for any reason. It could be hoping the homeless person you passed by earlier finds a reason to smile today or wishing your neighbors have a good meal this evening. The power of this action is that it requires you to step outside of yourself and your self-involved preoccupation with satisfying your food craving and place your attention on the meaningful well being of another. This results in breaking the cycle of the chemical/hormonal response tied to your craving. In turn, loosening the grip of your attention on your personal satisfaction, which moves you one step closer to breaking the food cravings.
Step 3 – Check Your Mind – Again
- Discover if you still have the same craving. Regardless of whether or not you do, what do you think and feel about it? Be honest with yourself.
- If you still have the craving try a food substitution using a fiber rich food. Fiber not only helps curb hunger, but chemically helps retard the effects of sugar metabolism as its larger and slower metabolizing molecules interfere with the rapid absorption of sugar molecules. This includes all those white flour based food craving as well…breads, pizza, muffins, rolls, and most packaged dry foods.
Step 4 – Feed the Need
This is the reality check step. The reality is that we need balance in our both our discipline and indulgences. When unhealthy cravings are the exception to your weekly eating habits, go for it. If they are the rule rather than the exception, then you should follow steps 1 -3 above and once in a while feel comfortable that you can feed the need.