Quick and effective tricks to stop cravings
Updated: Oct 18, 2018
1) When you really want to go back to the buffet – stand tall
Stand with legs shoulder width apart, feet flat on the ground, keep your head up, looking straight forward, place your hands on your hips and breathe deeply. Channelling your inner Super Hero like this really does imbue strength, force and composure. Studies show that holding a power pose like this for just two minutes is enough to increase levels of testosterone (the dominance hormone), reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and boost your feelings of power and control.
2) When you NEED chocolate – grab someone to hug
Sometimes a physical craving for puddings or chocolate is driven by low levels of the feel-good brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. Yes, chocolate can give you a mood boost, but studies show a few minutes spent kissing or cuddling can trigger extremely beneficial chemical cascades in the brain including the neurotransmitter, oxytocin (known as the love hormone) which makes you feel warm, fuzzy and connected inside. This is particularly useful if you're a SOOTHER - why not take our QUIZ HERE to find out what type you are?
3) When you find yourself heading for the biscuit tin - hit your ‘remote control’
1) Press am imaginary PAUSE button to put your body into freeze-frame. Now imagine yourself giving in to the craving, lifting the lid on the biscuit tin, pulling out a biscuit and eating it. Be honest about how the scene normally plays out. Yes, you’ll get a brief burst of gratification, but what else?
2) Next, breathe deeply for a few moments and FAST-FORWARD to how you are likely to feel five or ten minutes after eating the biscuit(s). Are you disappointed with yourself? The guilt, shame and self-recrimination that normally accompany eating behaviour can feel quite strong now. Don’t push these feelings away as they will help you…
3) Now that you have seen the future, press REWIND on your remote control and bring yourself back to the present, but this time watch a scene unfold again where you DON’T eat a biscuit.
How do you feel now? Strong, in control and fabulous?
4) Finally, with this increased confidence and empowerment, press PLAY on your remote control and make a choice about what you want to do. You really do have the ability to change the future.
4) When you feel like throwing in the towel and blowing the diet – bite a slice of lemon
A quick, sense-jolting distraction can be enough to nudge you out of destructive thought patterns (‘what’s the point of this diet?’) and get yourself grounded before things cascade out of control. You can get the same result by grabbing a handful of ice or picking up a book (like The Shrinkology Solution!) and quickly reading a paragraph backwards out loud.
5) When you feel sad and only cake will do – massage your face
Massage has been shown to increase levels of serotonin (the ‘happy’ hormone) by as much as 28% and reduce cortisol (the ‘stress’ hormone) by as much as 31%. So when you face a strong craving for cake and you suspect you are chasing a feel-good fix, try giving yourself a quick face massage instead.
6) When you think you’re hungry (but you’re not sure) try the brocccoli test
When you are about to reach out for a slice of cake imagine that cake is a plate of broccoli. Raw. Do you still want to eat it? If yes, you really could be hungry. If so, eat broccoli – not the cake!
7) If you find yourself picking off other people’s plates – ping an elastic band
Wear an elastic hair band around your wrist and when the urge to pick hits, ping that band. Studies (which admittedly administered mild electric shocks instead) show that a sharp sensation is enough to send a mild ‘pain’ message to your brain which makes a tenuous link between your actions and pain. Repeat the process often enough and you really will form a neural pathway which puts a negative association (the sharp pain of the elastic band) in your brain alongside the urge, so subconsciously you start to associate the habit with the unpleasant sensation.
* We originally wrote a version of this feature for HEALTHISTA and it was picked up by the Daily Mail
You'll find many more fab tips and tricks and targeted diet advice in our book, The Shrinkology Solution