We’ve all been there. You do really well with eating healthy all day – maybe a smoothie or oatmeal for breakfast, salad at lunch and lots of veggies with dinner, but then evening rolls around and your crazy day is finally winding down and you find yourself on the couch, in front of the TV and you just can’t seem to resist the call of the potato chips in the cupboard or the ice cream in the fridge.
Before you know it, you’re ruining all your hard work and heading to bed once again furious at yourself. How can you stop this crazy, frustrating cycle?
Here are three simple things you can try today:
Stop, Breathe and Get Curious
The moment when the craving first hits is when you have the most power to make a change. Often the feeling of the craving is so familiar that we just let it take over (as we always have in the past), but I want to encourage you to try something different.
The next time you feeling that familiar craving creep up, I want you to stop what you’re doing, bring your attention and focus into the present moment by taking a deep breath (our breath is the best tool we have to anchor ourselves back into the here and now), and once you’re fully aware and present, I want you to get curious about what this craving is really all about.
Remember that it’s rarely about the food. Instead, ask yourself, “how am I hoping this food will make me FEEL?” The answer could be: comfortable, happy, relaxed, fulfilled, loved or anything else that might come up for you. Once you start to get an idea of how you’re hoping the food will make you feel, you can begin the process of finding a healthier, more effective way to address those needs.
We know that the human brain prefers instant gratification. However, studies have shown that when we force our brain to wait for a reward, the perceived value of that reward diminishes with time.
So, the next time you’re really craving a less than healthy food or drink, don’t tell yourself you can’t have it, simply commit to waiting 10 minutes. During that time you can use the stop, breathe, and get curious exercise.
If you still want it just as desperately after the 10 minutes are over, go for it. But many times you’ll find that after those 10 minutes have passed, your craving will have diminished enough that you are open to considering a healthier alternative.
Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is basically a way of eating that is the exact opposite of the way most of us eat now. It’s a powerful tool that can help you eat less, digest your food better and make healthier choices.
When we eat mindfully we sit down at a table (not a work desk, not in front of a TV, not in the car). We notice the food that we’re eating – the way it looks, the smell, the taste. We slow down and notice how we feel as we eat the food. We take time to appreciate the food and everyone who helped get it to our plates. We chew slowly and listen to the messages from our body about when we’ve had enough.
We don’t look at our phones or work on the computer or clean up the kitchen or fight with our families. We just eat. Nothing else.
It’s also an excellent tool to help curb binge eating and emotional eating. Trust me – it’s a whole lot harder to eat an entire box of Girl Guide cookies while sitting at the dining room table.
If mindful eating is new for you, think about checking out my free 5-Day Mindful Eating Challenge. When you sign up for the challenge, you’ll receive an email each day with a simple mindful eating exercise that you can experiment with that day to begin to dramatically transform the way you think about food.
You’ll be amazed at how much just changing HOW and WHERE you eat, will end up affecting WHAT you eat as well as your ability to say “no” to the cravings and old habits that have been sabotaging your progress towards a healthier, happier you! Get started with the free challenge right now!