There are not many people who can claim they have never experienced food cravings. There are also not many who can boast they are able to resist food urges, and do not reach out for a sugary candy or a greasy steak when cravings strike. You are not alone in your woes.
Food cravings are a concern because we crave those foods that are harmful for us. We don’t crave fruits and veggies; we lust after French fries and ice cream. We don’t have overwhelming urges to bite into broccoli or avocado; we want to have pizza instead.
Unless you have an underlying medical condition, food cravings derail your healthy eating plans, and if you give in to them for too often, they become habits. Cravings are not necessarily signals that you are hungry. They can be your brain playing tricks on you.
Yes, food cravings are mostly in your head! Control your thoughts, emotions, and responses, and you can resist food cravings. Meditation helps you banish food cravings by teaching you how to control your mind.
Meditation calms and de-stresses you
Not many people can imagine there is a direct and powerful connection between stress and food cravings. According to WebMD, stress and anxiety trigger food cravings. We typically crave sugary and fatty foods that have been shown to have a calming effect on the brain. The brain remembers the pleasant experience of having a chocolate chip cookie or a plate of macaroni and cheese and prompts you to search for these foods the next time you feel stressed.
It also doesn’t help that we, as a species, may be genetically programmed to seek out calorie-dense foods. Our cave-dwelling forefathers lived through famines and hardship; they survived because the human body is designed to store extra calories from food as fat. Their brains probably made them seek out high-calorie foods because they never knew when the next meal would come.
But we live in times of plenty. We don’t need to store far as much as our primitive ancestors did. So we have to ride over our brain’s tendency to nudge us towards high-calorie foods. Meditation helps you be calm and relaxed, so you don’t have cravings for unhealthy foods.
Meditation teaches you to pause, become aware of your thoughts, and choose to go slow
Food cravings are not like physical pain that you may experience after an injury. The gnawing pain is the body’s signal that you MUST do something to soothe the injured area. Because most cravings are just emotional urges and not the body signaling that you have to eat now. You don’t have to act on them. In fact, this is the reason cravings melt away even if you don’t act on them.
But most often, we don’t give ourselves enough time to ride over the cravings. We rush to the fridge or pick up the phone to order food the moment our brains cry ice cream or burger.
Practicing meditation regularly teaches you not to react when you experience a food craving. You learn to pause, take a few deep breaths, and become aware of what is going on inside your head. Making time for stillness lets you get a grip on your mind and your actions.
Meditation carves the mental space where you can analyze a food craving objectively and fight it
You can’t fight your enemy if you don’t know about it. Get to the bottom of your cravings to tackle them head on. It is especially critical to determine the emotional triggers, if there are any. For instance, you would want to know if it is loneliness that is making you binge on Netflix and potato chips, or if you crave chocolate and ice cream only when you pass by a store that’s selling them.
You must be able to analyze your food cravings objectively. You should be able to think of all those times you experienced cravings and gave in to them, without beating yourself up or sinking into deep remorse. You should be able to dwell upon your urges comfortably. Meditation gives you the clarity of mind to recognize cravings for what they are—the peculiar workings of the human brain, and NOT moral flaws—so you can tackle them with confidence.
Meditation helps you visualize a tougher YOU that is able to resist cravings
Every time you give in to a craving, your mind sinks a little deeper into despondency. You begin to feel as if you are incapable of sticking to an eating plan. You feel a little less confident of yourself. So the next time, a food craving strikes, you don’t even try to resist it.
Visualization is a powerful exercise to convince your mind of anything you want to believe in. When you “see” something in your mind’s eye often, the brain is convinced that what you are seeing is for real. The brain even carries out the entire sequence of mental responses that it would execute when you undergo the experience in real life.
The more you visualize yourself resisting food cravings, the quicker your brain perfects the I-will-not-give-in-to-my-urge responses. So when you experience the food craving in real life, your brain already knows how to act.
We live in a hyper-digital world where we are always fed images from the outside—the television, the internet, and the mobile phone. Not many of us retain the ability we once had as children to conjure up images in our minds and create a make-believe world where we were pirates, princesses, or astronauts. Meditable’s guided meditation sessions weave in suggestions to help you imagine the YOU you want to be—a person who is able to resist food cravings and effortlessly stick to a healthy eating plan.
Being able to banish food cravings is a simple 3-step process:
- Be aware of your thoughts and emotions. You need to realize that what you are experiencing is just a craving and it will go away on its own even if you don’t do what it says.
- Build up motivation by visualizing yourself not yielding to food cravings.
- Channel your thoughts. Meditate regularly to transplant encouraging thoughts and images in your mind.
You can master these steps in Meditable app. Go to Library→Health→Lose Weight & Eat Healthy→Overcome Cravings.
Meditating regularly helps you be mindful of your thoughts, tame them, respond to them in the way you desire, and tweak them, if needed. Meditation lets YOU master your mind.