Everyone will experience a craving at some time or another and when your trying to change your lifestyle habits to become healthier. These urges can drive you to act against your better judgement.
They can come on suddenly and be intensely powerful, driving all else from your mind except the delicious treat you've got your eye on.
When a craving hits, Most people try to fight their urges telling themselves they must NOT give in and all most beat themselves up to keep control, but this tends to backfire and induce more frequent and intense cravings down the line.
If we finally give in, we can feel a failure and then fall prey to self sabotage mindset what-the-hell effect. ( As in I've done it now i might as well really dig in) .
When a craving hits, Instead of fighting with your craving, use a technique called surfing the urge. Urge surfing is a technique for riding out a craving without giving into it.
This technique was first developed by Dr Alan Marlatt. I first read about this in a book called The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal’s, (great book btw) It's also cropped up in many others, the technique is used the world over to help deal with cravings.
I also know it works as I practice the steps myself... Please understand it's not a quick fix and won't work all the time but the more you practice the more success you will have over your cravings.
The first essential component of urge surfing is understanding that all cravings eventually pass, whether or not you give in to them. The secret to getting through the craving is riding it out like a wave.
1. Acknowledge how you are experiencing the craving. Do this by sitting in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands in a comfortable position. Take a few deep breaths and focus your attention inward. Allow your attention to wander through your body. Notice where in your body you experience the craving and what the sensations are like. Notice each area where you experience the urge, and tell yourself what you are experiencing. For example, “Let me see . . . My craving is in my mouth and nose and in my stomach.”
2.Focus on one area where you are experiencing the urge. Notice the exact sensations in that area. For example, do you feel hot, cold, tingly, or numb? Are your muscles tense or relaxed? How large an area is involved? Notice the sensations and describe them to yourself. Notice the changes that occur in the sensation.
3.Repeat the focusing with each part of your body that experiences the craving. Pay attention to and describe to yourself the changes that occur in the sensations. Notice how the urge comes and goes.
4.Ride out your craving, releasing tension with each breath. Stay with the meditation until the craving subsides.
Many people, when they urge surf, notice that after a few minutes the craving has vanished. The purpose of this exercise, however, is not to make the craving go away but to experience the craving in a new way. If you practice urge surfing, you will become familiar with your cravings and learn how to ride them out until they diminish naturally.
To help you memorise the above and remind yourself to do it print off the below and put it somewhere close by..
Note: be careful not to confuse real cravings with the vague feeling of being “in the mood” for a certain food. When these hit, don’t try to fight them or distract yourself from them. even if the desire is persistent. These feelings are sometimes mislabelled as cravings, but they aren’t problematic.
To help you get clearer on cravings make sure you read Head hunger vs Brain Hunger...