SIX WAYS TO OVERCOME FOOD CRAVINGS & BREAK OLD HABITS

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When making the change to additive free food, quite often the focus is on how hard the change can be. There’s no denying there will be hard parts.  Such a lifestyle transformation is not without it’s hurdles.  But with a few simple strategies and some support, those hard bits can disappear.  Today’s blog is all about making one hard bit easy – the cravings.  What can you do to overcome the cravings for certain foods?  How do you break the old habits and form new ones?

We all have cravings.  Whether chocolate or coffee is your weakness, at some stage during the day or week, you will get a craving for something.  No matter what habit you’re trying to break, overcoming the cravings is a part of the process.  The beautiful thing is, it doesn’t matter whether you are dealing with cravings for additives, wheat or sugar, the physical and psychological issues are practically the same, and so are the solutions.  You have physical messages that need resetting, and you have mind messages that need resetting too.  So here are 6 ways you can deal with them.  For the best results, do these steps in order from 1 to 6.

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6 WAYS TO OVERCOME FOOD CRAVINGS & BREAK OLD HABITS

1.  Find a substitute food that’s additive free

Or gluten free, or sugar free or fat free – whatever habit you’re trying to break.  First step is always to find a replacement.  I’m not advocating the replacement of one food habit with another as the only solution. There will be other options outlined below, but first, have your replacement food on hand and ready.

Of course, it has to be a healthy food replacement.  If you’re going sugar free, don’t opt for artificial sweeteners.  You’ll be lining yourself up for a whole new set of problems.  If you’re going additive free, find a healthy replacement without additives.  Easiest way to do this is go with fresh, whole foods.  Need help with finding replacements?  Click here for some suggested substitutes for things like sugar, wheat, etc. Or click here to ask me a question about a particular food you want to substitute and I’ll give you some ideas and suggestions.  Also, keep a check on the website for a list of product recommendations soon to be posted.

NB:  it doesn’t have to be a food either – it can be a drink.  My suggestions?  Water or Herbal tea.  Water doesn’t have to be boring.  Add some slices of citrus to it.  Get a sodastream and make it fizzy water. Herbal tea is another goodie.  I’ve written about why herbal tea is a good replacement in a previous blog.  Click here to view my blog on herbal tea.  Either way, you are filling your tummy with something that’s easy, readily available, inexpensive and good for you.

2.  Find a substitute that’s not food or drink

We don’t want to  teach our body that food is the only coping strategy or answer for cravings, so here are some ideas for non-food replacements:

* Get moving!  Go for a walk, bike ride or do some exercises in your lounge room.  Sit ups, star jumps, yoga, whatever tickles your fancy.  Do it every time you get a craving.  Exercise spreads the good stuff inside – serotonin, dopamine etc.  Plus, imagine how buff and fit you’ll be if you do that every time you have a craving!

* Play some music & maybe dance a little :-)  bad3

* Play with the dog or cat.

* Play with the kids.

* Water the garden.

* Read a book.

* Get a hug, feel the soft green grass under your bare feet, do some gardening or meditation.

You get the idea… Find the thing that helps you feel happy and centred.  Make it the focus of your new habit.  Remember this replacement has to be strong enough to overcome your physical and mental cravings, so make it a good one.  If it’s not appealing enough to you, choose another one!

3.  Turn your replacement into a habit

We are creatures of habit.  We like routine.  It’s safe.  So replacing your old habit with a new one makes sense, doesn’t it?  You just need to make sure you replace it with a good one – one you enjoy, that’s good and healthy for you.  If you followed the first two steps above, you’re halfway there.  But at the moment, it’s just something new that you’ve tried once or twice.  It’s got potential and power, but you haven’t tapped into it yet.  It’s not an ingrained habit you can’t shake, so the old habit can still overshadow the new choice.

How do you turn this new replacement into a habit? The idea is to retrain your body, your mind and your whole being to take on this healthier higher energy.  There’s a basic formula for this.  Start by picking a new healthy habit, do it once, do it well, then repeat.  And repeat again.  Repeat the new habit as part of a routine until it becomes second nature.  That’s it!  Sounds rather simple doesn’t it? That’s because it is!

The key is in the choices, timing and consistency.  As soon as you get the craving, take a deep breath and do the new healthy replacement habit instead.  This way, you are replacing the old physical message with a new one. You’re retraining your body by undoing old lessons you have taught yourself and learning new ones.   Pick the non food replacement as first choice.  If you always get a craving at 3pm, then that’s your new time to take the dog for a walk.  If you still feel the craving after the walk, then choose the healthy food replacement.  If your cravings are coming at random times, be flexible and prepared! Have a replacement for every occasion and work out what’s best for you at different times.  Leave no room for excuses!

Now the only other thing that may still be stopping you from repeating this habit is your mind.  You’ve retrained the physical part of the habit with a well timed replacement, now the voices in your head need to be stopped :-)

4.  Remember the reasons for the change

This is the first ‘mind strategy’ to stop the voices in your head making the craving stronger. You’re changing habits for a good reason, and you’ll need to remind yourself about this reason a lot.  Tell yourself why it’s not ok to cave in to the craving.  Write it down in big bold letters and put it on the fridge or somewhere you’ll see it everyday.  Also remind yourself how it will feel when you’ve conquered the old habit (write that underneath the reasons why you’re giving up the bad stuff).

5.  Retrain your mindbad4

Don’t underestimate the power of positive affirmations. You deserve to feel good and be healthy.  You deserve the highest energy.  It’s important to tell yourself these things.  Most of us are very good at saying horrible things to ourselves. (It’s another bad habit we need to break :-)  Think about it.  We’re quick to hammer ourselves for mistakes.  How nice are the little voices in your head when you cave in to a craving?  Usually not very! When is the last time you praised yourself or said something nice to you?  It’s time to retrain your mind by replacing the old negative messages with new positive ones.

We are the creators of our own happiness, and it starts with being kind to ourselves.  Exaggerated efforts are needed to make this become the norm, so write them down, stick them all over the house where you’ll see them.  Set your phone calendar to send you nice messages.  Whatever it takes!  Flood yourself with positive affirmations about why you deserve to eat healthy foods and feel good.  Be kind to you!

6.  Find your inner strength and call on your support

Part of overcoming your obstacles comes down to personal gumption.  Inner strength.  The ability to suck it up and soldier on.  This isn’t something easily taught.  It’s something you have to find yourself through experience and sheer will and determination.  Now is the time to find it and use your reserve tank too if you have to!  Plenty of people can tell you “You can do it!”, but in the long run, you have to believe it, find the strength and ignore the cravings.

Yet despite all efforts to be totally reliant on ourselves for happiness and strength, there are times when we need support.  A friend to help keep you on track.  Somebody to lean on, as the song says. When you have followed all the steps to retrain your body and your mind and break old habits, remember you’re not alone.  We have all been put on this planet to help each other, so actively seek the support you need.  Talk to someone.  Increase your accountability by doing the change together or sharing your decision with others – it’s a great internal motivator.  Include your partner or family in the change process and share the load.  You deserve loving support as much as you deserve to feel happy and healthy!  And remember, you can contact me here for support anytime!

 

Well, there you have it. Now you know how to overcoming cravings and breaking old habits with food.  With a little planning and thought, something seemingly so hard can become a lot easier just by breaking it down into a few simple tasks.

Do you have a bad habit are you trying to break?  Have you got cravings to overcome?  Contact me on Facebook by clicking here or on the link below to share yours.  I’d love to help you find a new healthy habit that keeps you happy, centred and calm.

Loren x