The question of cravings, of sugar consumption and of willpower often comes up in my discussions with clients.
And it’s definitely something I’ve battled with over the years.
But what if you don’t have to battle it. But instead just ask yourself some simple questions.
What do you want?
How do you want to feel?
These are the questions that Alexandra Jamieson is asking in her book Women, Desire and Food, which was a really interesting read, and has definitely got me thinking about my own habits, cravings and what I want and need.
I think these are really interesting questions to ask ourselves anyway. Whether it’s about food or life in general. How often do you ask yourself what you really want? And do you really listen to the answer? This is something I've been working on for a few years, and the answers are hard to find when you're so used to worrying about what everyone else wants.
What is your craving telling you?
Is it a mid afternoon sugar craving? Or is it your body telling you it needs a rest, or a change of pace. Could a walk outside, or a chat with a colleague help you. Do you have the sugar craving at the same time on a weekend or just when you’re at work?
Has the craving evolved into a habit, something that you do at the same time everyday, mindlessly and without thinking about it?
I’m posing more questions here than actually answering them. But this is because the answers will be different for you and for me.
And this difference is important too. This often why prescriptive diets, giving up whole food groups or counting calories doesn’t work in the long term. Because it doesn’t answer the question ‘what do I want?’.
Cravings and hunger - what's the difference?
Alexandra Jamieson suggests that we need to get familiar with our cravings and with hunger. Cravings are a plea for something pleasurable (and it doesn’t have to be food), whereas hunger is a signal for nutritional support. Cravings pass, hunger gradually intensifies, but we don’t always listen to what our bodies are telling us so that we can hear the answer.
Habits can be transformed, but it doesn’t have to be a huge test of our willpower. If a habit is filling a need - it could be a distraction from something difficult, from your own feelings - how else could you fulfil that need?
Could simple things like prepping breakfast the night before, or planning your meals for the week mean that it’s easier to transform the coffee and a muffin habit that happens on the way into work. Or could planning your meals for the week and doing an online shop on a Sunday, transform the midweek takeaway habit?
Maybe just taking a deep breath before a meal, or when you find yourself wandering into the kitchen at work or at home, have a glass of water while you ask yourself the question ‘what do I want’ and work out if you are really hungry. And if you really want that chocolate, cake or ice cream, then go ahead and have it, and enjoy it, eat it slowly and with pleasure, tasting and enjoying every morsel.
Self love as a key to cravings…..
“Learning to love your body as it is, at this moment, is crucial to transforming your habits. strengthening your willpower and curbing your unwanted cravings”, Alexandra Jamieson
Self love. How do we even do that? We often have to start by quieting all the criticism we show ourselves.
Many of us will have a negative inner voice that pipes up at points in the day, especially when we ‘give in’ to cravings, find our jeans are feeling a little snug, or catch ourselves looking less that perfect in the mirror.
That inner voice may be trying to protect us, but sometimes it’s just plain bitchy. So, take a moment to focus on what you really like about yourself, your body and your life and leave that criticism behind!
That inner voice can trigger our shame, and make us more vulnerable to our cravings and bad habits…so be nice to yourself, I can tell you right now that you’re a fabulous amazing woman, and you already do so much more than you give yourself credit for.
None of this is particularly hard, but neither is it easy. Getting the support of others around you can be helpful. If you’d like some support with getting on top of your cravings, building a healthier life than maybe I can help.