A few weeks ago I was craving a cupcake. In a BIG way.
Specifically a vegan, gluten-free, pineapple carrot spice cupcake (which is gigantic enough to satisfy the cravings of at least four people) from one of my favorite cafes.
I didn’t give in, but I thought about that cupcake for about 5 hours.
FIVE FRICKIN HOURS!
In the past, I would’ve been wildly impulsive, bought the cupcake, and inhaled it in two seconds. Afterward, I would’ve wanted to eat one after that, and another one after that. Then I would’ve felt disgustingly stuffed afterward and the next morning I would’ve felt hungover.
How do I know this?
Because I’ve acted on these types of impulses hundreds of times before. I could tell you exactly what would happen and how I would feel when I flood my body with that much sugar.
But these days, I know better. I know what to do when this happens and I want to share this strategy with you today.
In order to improve your relationship with food, you must recognize and change how you communicate with yourself.
When you have massive craving, do you find yourself saying any of the following?
- “I shouldn’t have it.”
- “I can’t have it”
- “If I have it, I’m a bad person.”
These statements are not empowering. They are rooted in restriction and judgment and they do not serve your highest good. I know that changing the way you think takes time, especially when you’ve been operating under the same script for decades. That’s okay! Be kind, patient, and loving with yourself as you go through this process.
In addition to all the “I can’t” “I shouldn’t” “I’m bad” talk, I also could’ve given in to my intense cupcake craving with the following justification:
- “I’m listening to my body and my body wants a cupcake.”
On the surface, that sounds legit. If you’ve been following me on Facebook and reading my blog posts for a while, you know by now that I am a huge proponent of listening to my body and I encourage others to do the same. I eat not what I “should” eat, but I eat what my body wants. Maybe it’s salad one day and a big juicy grass-fed beef burger the next.
Last night, my body didn’t want a cupcake. My mouth wanted it, but the rest of my body did not.
In order to dig deeper and figure out what was really going on, I had to stop, breathe and be really honest as I asked myself some questions.
Below is the actual dialogue I had with myself (in my head):
Q: “Okay Emily, what do you really want?”
A: “Water. I’m thirsty. I haven’t drank enough water today and I feel dehydrated.”
Q: “What else do you want?”
A: “Sleep. I’m exhausted. I’ve been on my feet, going non-stop for the last three days.”
Q: “Is eating a cupcake going to give you the same result that drinking water and sleeping would give you?”
Q: “So if what your body really wants is water and sleep, then eating a cupcake is not going to satisfy either of those desires?”
A: “That’s correct”
Q: “Suppose you ate the cupcake. Then what?”
A: “I’d feel even worse afterward. I would feel gross, heavy, and out of balance. In addition to feeling like crap, I would still be thirsty and tired afterward.”
Q: “So if you ate the cupcake, you’re saying that nothing positive is going to come of that.”
Q: “So why would you want to do harm yourself? Why would you want to do something to yourself that is not going to help you feel your best or help you achieve your highest potential?”
A: “You’re right. I don’t want to hurt myself. To give my body what it really wants, I have to give it water and sleep. A cupcake is not going to satisfy either of these needs. A cupcake is not going to give me the same results that hydration and rest will give me. I don’t want to feel heavy and gross. I don’t want the cupcake anymore.”
That last question is a doozy. Think about it. When we follow through and behave in ways that we know are destructive to our body, we must examine that further. Oftentimes there is a trace of "I don't deserve to [be healthy, be happy, shine brightly]" or "I'm worthless, it doesn't matter how I treat my body". By catching yourself before you act on impulse and asking yourself these questions, you can reduce the likelihood of following through.
That night, I didn’t eat the cupcake.
Instead I drank water all night and when I got home, I did the following:
- Drank a glass of ice cold water with a packet of pink lemonade Emergen-C powder (this is my quick-fix “I know I’m thirsty but regular water doesn’t sound appealing to me” drink)
- Drank a cup of caffeine-free rooibos tea which I added stevia to (to satisfy the part of me that wanted sugar)
- Brushed my teeth to signify the end of all eating and drinking for the night
- Wrote in my gratitude journal (in which I acknowledged and expressed gratitude that I didn’t give into my cupcake craving -- gotta celebrate every victory!)
Within 5 minutes I fell asleep and I didn’t wake up for 8 glorious hours.
The next morning, I woke up feeling refreshed and balanced. I was grateful I prevented a potentially debilitating sugar hangover and all traces of my cupcake craving were gone.
So the next time you are experiencing a sugar craving, try the following:
- Stop and breathe so you don’t act on impulse. (It is impossible to go into an all out binge when your body is in the physiological relaxation response.)
- Ask yourself what you REALLY want - maybe it’s sleep or water. Or it could be companionship or a hug.
- Ask yourself if what you’re craving is going to give you what you really want.
- Ask yourself what you can do instead to give yourself what you really want - Craving companionship? Connect with others- call a friend. Stressed out? Go outside. Take a walk in nature. Go for a jog.
- Acknowledge yourself for not giving in to your craving. The more you get into the habit of changing how you communicate with yourself, the easier it’ll get to address your craving in a way that’s productive instead of in a way that’s harmful.
How do you handle your cravings? In the Comments section below, tell us about your tried and true strategies for not giving in to a craving.
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