The old saying “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” is so true. It’s easy to dream about food during the day. Even when we’re not actually hungry.
For one thing, food is easy to crave. Our bodies need it! So it’s normal and important to satisfy our hunger. But there are other factors at work:
- Visual cues like TV commercials, billboards, and social media constantly remind us about food.
- Additives like sugar, salt, and fat can make food more addictive.
- Emotions like anger, loneliness, happiness, or boredom can spur cravings for comfort food.
The key is to notice when your body actually needs food, and when your mind just wants it.
So how can you cope with non-hunger cravings? Try these simple steps to examine your cravings and buy yourself some time to make a healthy choice.
Listen to Your Body
When you get a craving, you can look to the Hunger Gauge to help you find out if you’re actually hungry. Gauging your hunger helps you decide if you should eat, and how much.
Understand Your Triggers
A trigger is any cue that makes you want food. It can be a person, a thought, a place, a time, or a feeling. For some, just sitting down to watch TV after dinner is a trigger to snack. Next time you run into a trigger, pause and ask yourself, “How can I respond differently?” The more you practice a new habit, the less powerful a trigger will be.
Practice Mindful Breathing
Sit somewhere you won’t be disturbed. Get comfortable. Then simply focus on your breath—in and out. When your mind starts to wander, bring it back to your breath. This soothing routine can relieve stress. It also strengthens your mental “muscles” against triggers so those cravings have less control over you.
Surf the Urge
Cravings, like all feelings, will come and go. No feeling lasts forever. Cravings usually disappear after you eat. Or they vanish on their own in just 10-20 minutes. When you get a craving, remind yourself that this feeling is only temporary.
Ride the Wave
Now that you’ve surfed the urge, ride the wave. Before caving into a craving, wait 20 minutes for the urge to pass. If it hasn’t gone away, you might actually be hungry—or really want that snack. At that point you can decide if you want to eat.
Put Up a Yield Sign
Print out a “Yield” sign and place it on your fridge or in your workspace. It can remind you to slow down and check in with yourself before you turn to food.