One day you’re working hard in your office when suddenly your favorite bakery sends an email about its latest promo, complete with a picture of its newest cake line, and you feel an absolute need to consume them right that second. It’s craving.
Other day you’re walking innocently on the roadside when you pass a mart with a display of various cookies on its shelf, and you suddenly feel an urgent need to taste those chips in your mouth. It’s craving.
Or maybe you don’t actually do anything. You are just having a nice day off in your house when without any trigger, you suddenly just want to eat something chocolate-y or buttery. It’s also craving.
There are many reasons why craving happens. For once, it is maybe because your body lacks some of necessary nutrients and it is trying to coax you to get it from specific food. It can also happen because you’re under so much stress and your body is finding a way to release it. It can also happen because you’re tired, hungry, or thirsty, but your body misread it as craving only for specific food. Most often, it happens because there is the sight or smell of food that triggers your appetite.
Indulging your craving can lead to many unwanted problems, such as overeating and overspending. But, worry no more because there are 15 ultimate mind tricks to help you beat craving.
- Tense your muscles
Tense your muscles and then relax it again. This exercise is known as Progressive Muscle Relaxation and is popular as stress relief, but it can also reduce your craving. Start from your muscles in your head (like your jaw and neck muscles) to your lower body part (like your shoulders, arms, abdomen, feet, and even toes).
Tensing and relaxing muscles will distract your mind from your immediate craving. The time it buys will enable your brain to make a more rational decision and in the end cease your craving.
- Burn your craving
People nowadays only use gas lighter, but you can save yourself some craving by carrying matches around. Whenever you feel the urge to eat certain food, step outside and light a match. Imagine the match as your craving and watch as the fire consume it. Wait until it is burnt completely (or as complete as you can before it burns you).
The imagery of burning your craving will give you self satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. These feeling will make you feel good and make you satisfied enough to not need any more craving.
- Distract yourself during ‘craving time’
When the craving hit you, take your phone and set an alarm for 10 minutes. During this 10 minutes, distract yourself with anything that will take your mind away from the thought of food. You can sing out loud, dance silly, play game, or basically doing any activities that will require your concentration.
Expert says that craving only last for 10 minutes. If you can dedicate yourself for other thing during this 10 minutes of ‘craving time’, then you will find yourself craving less after that time pass.
- Touch the point in your face near the ear
Imagine your skin as a motherboard where each of your organ’s switches is located. These locations are pressure point. When you apply pressure to these pressure points, it will affect your organ positively. This is the basic idea of acupuncture and acupressure.
This idea doesn’t belong only for your organ’s health. You also can calm down your raging craving by touching the right pressure point for your body’s appetite suppression. This pressure point’s specific location is the part of your face in front of your ear. Simply press your forefinger gently on that spot and press it for one minute to suppress your appetite. Ref: http://acupressurepointsguide.com/most-common-acupressure-points-for-weight-loss/
- Block any trigger
What triggers you to crave something? Is it the visual of the food? Maybe is it the delicious smell? Maybe it has nothing to do with the food itself but you just have the opportunity to get that food?
Recognize your own trigger, and then make effort to avoid them in the future. There are many ways to do it. You can block the newsletter from your favorite brand, you can leave your seat during the advertisement when you’re watching your favorite TV show. You can also deliberately bring limited cash when you go out of the house or planning your route beforehand so you won’t pass any restaurant or cafe that will trigger you.
- Brush your teeth
You can manipulate your mind from your craving by brushing your teeth. Somehow, when your mouth is clean, you’ll less likely to make it dirty again by chewing food. Brushing your teeth also sends signal to your brain that meal time is over and your brain will cease from further craving.
Use minty toothpaste so the cool feeling will remain in your mouth even after you finished brushing. The mint taste in your mouth will make any food you eat less tasty and therefore reduce the severity of your craving.
- Ruin your craving
What you ultimately seek from your craving is not a full stomach, but satisfaction. Here’s how to get that satisfaction without eating the food. Buy that food and ruin it. Put in into the water, throw it to the floor, or give it to your pet.
By doing this, you’ll get the satisfaction from winning over your unnecessary craving. You’ll also spare yourself from unnecessary overeating.
- Tap your finger on your forehead
Research conducted by Richard Weil, M.Ed. CED. proves that tapping your finger on your forehead can blur the mental image of your craved food and reduce your craving by 10 percent. Mr. Weil asked the participant to imagine food they’re craving and then tap several parts of their body, including their forehead, knees, foot, and stomach. Among all of them, tapping the forehead is the most effective.
The practice is very simple. Simply repeat your fingers on your forehead for 30 seconds. Besides blurring your craving, it also helps to regulate the blood flow on your head. Ref: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/tapping-forehead-reduce-food-cravings-study-article-1.2000170
- Guided visualization
Imagine that you already have your craved food in your hand. Imagine you eat it, in detail. Imagine the taste, the texture, the color, and the smell. Research shows that guided visualization of you eating can decrease the intensity of your craving. In this study, participant who imagined eating M&M actually eat less M&M afterward compared to participant who didn’t imagine it before.
This may have something to do with the concept of marginal utility. For example, when you’re thirsty, a glass of water will make you very satisfied. You’ll still be happy to get the second glass of water, although the satisfaction has been reduced. You won’t be as happy when you get the third glass of water. In your case, the guided visualization will serve as the first glass of water and makes you craving less of the food.
- Drink water
Your brain often confuses thirst and hunger, and as a result you can eat more food than necessary when actually you will be just as satisfied with water. Whenever you feel the craving coming, instead of immediately jump to the nearest store to buy whatever food you’re craving, try to drink a glass of water. Wait for 10 minutes after you drink it. If you’re satisfied already, then it’s just your body misread your thirst as hunger.
Furthermore, drinking enough water will ensure your body function well and make your body less likely to succumb to craving.
Meditation has much psychological benefit. People use meditation to solve many of their mental problems, and irrational food craving is one of them. Stress and anxiety can be one of the trigger for your craving, and meditation has proven to be able to help relieve both of those problems.
When your craving hits, try to go to a quiet place. Close your right and count from 1-10, without thinking about anything else. Whenever your thought strays away from your count, go back to it immediately.
- Sneak a power nap
Another cause of craving is tiredness. So, to avoid this, you will have to restore your energy. The shortest yet the best way to do it are by sneaking a power nap. Simply go for a nap for around 20 minutes.
When you wake up, your energy will be restored and your body will no longer mistake your tiredness as a sign of nutrition deficiency. Nap will also cut your brain’s imagery of the food you want when you sleep, so when you wake up your craving will disappear already.
- Trick your mind with vitamin
Craving doesn’t happen without reason. Sometimes you’re indeed hungry. Sometimes your body is indeed in a need of certain nutrition and it reminds you to fulfill it by inflicting craving on you. But often, you respond to that request by eating sugar or salt laden snack instead of the required nutrition.
To stop this kind of craving, fulfill your nutrition needs with vitamin and nutrient in the form of supplement. That way, you will get what you need without unnecessary sugar and carbs. Recognize what each specific craving means. For example, chocolate craving may means you’re lacking magnesium while craving fatty food and soda means you’re lacking calcium.
- Prepare an imaginary apple
Sometimes, you indulge your craving and justify it by saying, “It’s not my craving! I’m really hungry!”
Admittedly, differentiating craving and hunger is difficult. Thankfully, you can’t have that excuse anymore because there is a way to figure out whether you are hungry or just craving. You can use an imaginary apple for that purpose.
Whenever your craving hits you, take that apple and ask yourself. If you can’t get that food you crave, will you eat this apple instead? If your answer is yes, then you are indeed hungry and you can take some food. But, if your answer is no, then it is just your craving talking. Go back to whatever you’re doing.
- Install a pause button in your brain
Imagine you have a pause button in your brain. Whenever you feel craving any food, push that button. When you press the button, you’re giving time for your brain to think about your craving a little bit more. Imagine the question of ‘do I really need this food’ as the same as ‘can I borrow your money?’ question. You have to take a time to think slowly and carefully about it before answering.
With enough time to think about it carefully, you’ll be able to make more rational decision for your craving.
Beating craving is more about how to control your mind rather than about fulfilling it. 15 tricks above will help you to beat your craving in 10 minutes or less. Pick one whenever your craving hits you and beat it!