You’ve taken a brave step and decided to do something about those cravings that you’ve had enough with!
By getting this guide, you’ve decided that you are a valuable and worthy person that deserves to be looked after. You are seeing that your life is more than just dieting and weight loss, but are a bit stuck on the cravings bit right now.
Because you’ve taken the initiative to get this guide – I know you’re the kind of person who will try out some of these crazy ideas.
These tools are different than you might be used to when talking about cravings. You might be used to things such as brushing your teeth after dinner, or having an elastic band on your wrist or an image of a thin person as your inspiration stuck up on the fridge.
I’m not dismissing these – well, actually, I am dismissing the thin person image, as really – who has ever felt good about themselves when they are actively practicing shame?
But if you feel that elastic bands or lemon water and the like are useful, then that’s great.
The tools here are a bit weirder than that though. And they work. Because an elastic band on the wrist is a temporary solution. These tools are broader and address some of the reasons behind cravings in the first place. They will show you that you can see your cravings in a different way – and actually do something about them, once and for all.
You’ll get to change your relationship with food and eating so that you can actually enjoy what you’re eating and the best thing is – you’ll not need to diet at all!
Ready? Let’s do this!
1: Eat it
First up – why are you having cravings? Because you are denying yourself the food that you want.
Actually, scrap that – it’s because you’ve made some foods off limits that you are craving them. Crazy huh? So here’s the simple antidote.
Whatever it is that you are fearing or labelling or seeing as naughty or bad. Every time you label food like that, you are making it more and more appealing.
Why? Because I believe that our brains are “seeking-out” machines. In that they really like to hunt things out. Think about it – that’s what our brains are designed to do. As cavemen we would have hunted, and we would have sought out berries. Today, we seek out solutions to problems at work or in our family, or we seek the ending of the TV programme we are watching.
We look for the hidden stuff.
So if you make something hidden – you will want to seek it out.
And here’s the sciencey bit – seeking something is a thrill, which comes from a chemical called dopamine, which I’m sure you’ve heard of as one of the feel good chemicals in our brain.
Dopamine is the ‘thrill of the chase’ chemical.
So – what you need to do is:
Not label food as ‘bad, naughty, sinful.’
You see it just as food.
And if you want it – you eat it. Thereby breaking the lure and attraction of it. Because I’m guessing that after you’ve craved a doughnut for ten hours, that doughnut is a huge disappointment because the craving of it made it more delicious in your mind. Cravings are promises, and the food is just reality. Don’t believe your cravings! They make food look like advert food, all glossy and shiny.
2: Accept Yourself
Oh, this is a biggie! Shame is driving you to feel even more rubbish about yourself. And what do you do in times of feeling crappy? You eat! If you hate yourself, you will want to punish yourself for being such a rubbish person.
If you like yourself and think you’re generally okay, you’ll want to just be with you and be kinda nice towards yourself. Your cravings don’t happen just because the food is tasty (although that’s a big driver and it is something to pay attention to) – but you’re craving that food because you want to feel good.
The inner you is in pain. Food is comfort. But if the inner you is comfort, food won’t even come up to your standards of what you expect for yourself.
People rarely binge eat on gourmet dishes that have had 5 star chefs slaving over them all day. People binge of fast crap. It reflects inner pain. To change this you need to work at something every day – and that is saying nice things to yourself about yourself.
Every morning say these:
“I like myself”
“I am good enough”
“I accept myself for who I am”
“I look after myself”
“I appreciate who I am”
Repeat each one ten times or all of them for five minutes. Every morning. Every time you’re negative towards yourself. STOP. And say one of these.
3: What Do You Want?
The ‘why are you eating’ question is too difficult sometimes. So instead, ask – what do you want?
What do you want out of the food you are eating in general? And what do you want when you are craving something? You don’t have to answer in the moment. When you just want to shove cake in your mouth, I really find the best thing to do is just accept yourself, and eat the cake (so that’s the first two tools in action straight away).
What is food serving in your life right now? Is it comfort or fun or a numbing agent or nourishment or a vehicle to skinny-land, or proof of cleanest healthiest person ever, or muscle bulking agent?
Think about this; what are you asking of food to provide for you?
If you come up with some answers, then can you think of ways to live your life where food isn’t filling in those responses?
4: Eat More of It
Hang on a minute – didn’t we just have this one? Kind of – but this is pushing it further again.
With this tool you are going to eat more of that food that you are labelling or craving.
I bet you’re a confused bunny right now. Either happy or angry or feeling both at the same time and making a really interesting expression on your face.
But what if I took something away from you. You don’t know what I’ve taken but I’ve got it in my hand and I’m running around blowing raspberries going “I’ve got your thing, I’ve got your think! You can’t see it, ner ner ner ner, I’m not giving it back to you!” And another raspberry for good measure.
What do you want to do in this instance? You want to see what I’ve taken from you! You’re going to be chasing me like a fool and shouting “Give that back to me!!” And if you manage to catch me, you are never letting go of that treasured thing ever again, even though five minutes ago you didn’t really care very much for it, until I took it and made it desirable.
Now let’s think of another scenario.
What if I kept giving you stuff? I don’t know what – stuff. Just lots of it. More and more, until that’s all you can see around you is all the stuff I’ve just shoved in your face.
How are you feeling now?
I’m guessing annoyed and frustrated and thinking, or shouting “Stop! Stop! Let me decide what I want and when I want it!”
Oh hello – isn’t this interesting?
Isn’t that exactly what you want? You want to eat what you want, when you want it with nothing bothering you in-between? So to get to that, you not only need to make it accessible, you need to actively give it to yourself, even when you don’t really want it. Just like someone giving you leaflets as you try to go about shopping. You decide when you want to pick it up if it’s interesting to you, but don’t appreciate it being fluttered in front of your face!
To do this then you need to schedule some time to actually eat all the foods you’ve labelled as ‘junk’ or are craving – and you sit down, and eat them. So it could be every night, it could be three times a week for dinner. And you actually do it. You stick to this plan. You eat these foods. Chocolate, cake, takeout, pizza, curry. You eat it.
Something really weird happens when you force yourself to eat something that was previously off limits. You’ll see that you get fed up of it, and the thing that made it taste amazing was the anticipation!
5: Get Excited About Helpful Foods
As you are coveting all that junk and making it special just by putting it on a pedestal that’s just out of reach, you are doing the opposite to foods that I like to call helpful. I think ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ are terms that aren’t very clear to us anymore. With helpful you can see it means helping your body, or not. Your body has a lot of jobs to do, are you giving it at least some of the help it needs? I mean, ideally, we wouldn’t really label food – but it can be useful. And how you really know is how it feels to you.
So you are making the foods that are actually tasty and helpful and natural into yuky foods that you have to eat.
It’s not your fault, we do this all the time with kids. We force them to eat their greens and then ‘treat’ them with sugar afterwards. So we set up this “Peas are gross and a job to eat, but pudding is something I deserve!”
You actually deserve the greens as you are a worthy being that deserves to be looked after by supplying it with valuable nutrients and delicious food grown in real conditions.
Stop saying you HAVE to eat your veggies. Think of at least five reasons why you’d WANT to!
When you think that way, you are reversing the brain washing you’ve been doing. You don’t have to eat vegetables, but if you see them as pretty amazing foods then you’ll get excited about them. I get really excited about stocking my fridge and pantry with helpful foods that I genuinely find delicious. It’s because over time, you’ll get a thrill out of wanting to look after yourself! Nothing more than that. Not because there’s an end goal like losing 10 lbs. but because you are giving yourself something kind.
6: Turn Inwards
Here’s a tool that’s really useful for those cravings that last ages. The all day long sort of craving. It feels like a déjà vu sort of experience where you are floating into the future and then back to the present. The sort of craving that feels like you are constantly looking forwards and start to feel sick because where you really are is here in the present. It’s like getting excited for a holiday, you really looking forwards, but the holiday is ages away and you start to feel sick and discombobled as you need to get your head into where you’re at right now.
Every time you are aware that you are spiralling forwards – imagine that you are turning that sensation around and turning inwards instead.
I have a video of me explaining this on my IGTV channel that’s worth a watch as I present you with a really detailed diagram that can help visualize and use this too further.
See a spiral and turn it around. Where are you craving? Cravings are outwards and searching, so turn in back in on itself, and come back to you. It feels good to do that, and stops the constant sort of craving.
Really visualize, and feel a craving that is going outwards, and you are turning it around so that it comes back inside. Out > In.
That’s pretty much all there is to this. Get a sense that you can feel a craving and turn in around. But it works.
7: Wait 5 Minutes
Yes, you’ve guessed it. This tool is the sort of tool you use in the moment. But the way I use it might be a bit different to how you’ve used it before.
I’m guessing that if you’ve used the ‘wait five minute’ rule (rule!?) you know the reason you’re waiting is so that the craving goes away and then you don’t eat the food.
The Eat Happy Way is about waiting or pausing when you have a craving and just seeing how you feel, where you feel it, what you think this is all about, and basically settle down in the eye of the storm and go “Oooh, isn’t this interesting? Really painful right now isn’t it?! Not very pleasant this, never noticed all the frowning that I’m doing!”
And then – you get to eat the food anyway! This is not a tool to stop you eating.
It doesn’t have to be for five minutes. Try 30 seconds. Pause, feel, notice – then relax and carry on as usual. This is an interesting tool as it’s seems so tiny – but so massive at the same time. You will notice that you’re building something every time you do this.
Self-trust and a tolerance for discomfort! With these two things – you will really be able to take on a lot more in life than just cravings! Try it, and see what you think.
8: Be Kind
Be kind to yourself, and to others. You do this by thinking the kinder thoughts I showed you above, and to stop all the judgements on others, and yourself. Well, not all. But a lot. Just use negativity as a trigger to be positive! Easy.
Each time you notice yourself being very rude to yourself, get some manners! Be kind and polite and caring, even if it feels fake. Try it.
Why? If you had a plant, and wanted it to flower – would you get the results you wanted if you shut it in a dark cupboard and didn’t water it or give it plant food?
But if you’re kind and caring towards it, and you give it what it needs and let it see the sunshine – it will flower and keep growing.
You, my dear, are not much different to a plant. Without warm thoughts shining down on you every day, you are unlikely to bloom!
9: Plan Pauses
If food is your means of escape, then you are on a slippery slope.
Planning pauses throughout the day is essential for letting off some steam. You can also start to pause your eating between meals (if you want to – don’t just listen to me, try it, and decide for yourself).
Setting an intention to pause eating between certain meals, makes snacking and over eating much more obvious. It’s like having a clean desk, and you’ll notice one bit of rubbish on it is far more evident than if you have a cluttered desk every day.
Pause between meals – no more than a couple of hours, and also plan small rest points throughout the day for you to stare up at the clouds in wonder. We need spaces and still points in our lives, so let yourself have some of those times. When you give yourself some space, you’ll take the pressure off food to do that for you. It’s only food at the end of the day!
In these pauses, you’ll get to practice many skills, including being kind to yourself.
10: Throw Away the Diet Books
This ties in with the first tool, because it’s these sorts of books that are going to make you label food and see some as ‘naughty’ and some as ‘good’.
It also erodes a lot of self-trust as you start to think that other people know more about you and your body than you do. Now, it’s great to get pointers and to be inspired, and to read up on the newest research about different foods. All of that is fine. But a diet plan and the diet culture isn’t just ‘fine’. It can be damaging.
Start to see yourself as the expert on YOU. Every time you eat a food, see what it does to you. It will be hard to know any different if you are always eating sugar, as you won’t know what it feels like to be sugar free. But that is a great jump off point to try something different. Diets are usually based in shame, especially weight loss diets. Every point or number you count towards food can reinforce this idea that some foods are good, and some are bad.
Diets are weirdly not bad in and of themselves, but it’s when we give up our centred place in our own body and mind do we start to cause some issues.
If you have experimented with diets, it’s now time to experiment with not dieting! For a few weeks, see how you feel eating any way you want to! Do you get hungry after a smoothie instead of full? Do you work better in the morning on an empty stomach rather than forcing yourself to have breakfast just because you’ve read that you ‘should’ eat breakfast? Well if it doesn’t work for you, try something different!
11: Get a Meaningful Activity
As a reward for reading this whole guide and making it to this point – you get this bonus chapter as you are a person who is on the path to eating happy!
Food is filling you up, but it leaves just as fast and you need more to keep topping up the emptiness. What you need is something of value and of meaning to you. This fills you up and stays with you.
It’s time to be brave, and to figure out what you want to try. Here’s a hint – what did you like doing as a child? I liked making magazines and newsletters, and here I am today, sharing information with people. I loved doing that, and now I love doing this.
This isn’t just ‘get a hobby so you don’t binge so much’. This is a lot more than that. This is about filling up your life with something you care about that’s outside of yourself. Food and dieting and bingeing and craving is all about YOU. That can get a bit much sometimes, especially when you’re also trying to hold up a mask on social media and look all happy and glamorous.
Get your hands dirty in the soil, roll up your sleeves and volunteer in the community. Or talk to other people about what you know. This is stuff that really feeds you, because the world needs you – just as you are. When your head is down counting meaningless calories, we miss a chance to talk to you. Just as you are right now. We all want to hear from you. The world might seem like it cares if you have cellulite, but it doesn’t. It values you as a person here on earth and any contribution you make is worthwhile!
You are a brave person. It’s no bad thing that you eat a lot or feel that you eat the wrong foods. It will teach you something if you let it. My eating taught me a lot; in fact, figuring out all my ‘stuff’ with food gave me skills for life. Love, kindness, bravery – it all came through dealing with my relationship with what I was putting on a plate.
I have discovered all these steps from my own experience, and I hope you find them useful to you.
Connect with me on social media, and let me know what you think!
You can find me on Instagram @eathappy.coach and I’m usually very active there. So look after yourselves, and Eat Happy!