Food Cravings… we’re all too familiar with them, aren’t we? They pop up at the most inopportune times (or at perfect times for some).
According to an article in Medical News Today, “A food craving is an intense desire for a specified food. This desire can seem uncontrollable, and the person’s hunger may not be satisfied until they get that particular food”.
The reasons for food cravings vary widely from person to person. Boredom, anger, sadness, lonliness, hormone imbalances… habit, maybe?
There’s also a connection between food cravings and the need for certain nutrients. This is an entirely different thing which we’ll get into in another article (soon…it’s fascinating, I promise).
Whatever the reason for food cravings, when it comes to foods that aren’t the healthiest… the ones we want to avoid but can’t seem to stay away from if our lives depended on it (and sometimes it does!!), there’s a solution!
”Urge Surfing” is a concept that has been recently introduced to me. What’s urge surfing and what does it have to do with food cravings?
I’m so glad you asked 🙂
”Urge Surfing is a mindfulness technique that can be used to help with any addictive behavior such as gambling, overeating, inappropriate sex, or any other destructive impulse”. – Dr. Chris Walsh @ mindfulness.org.au
Our natural inclination is to fight unwanted food cravings. Fighting results in an internal struggle that actually feeds food cravings. For example, have you ever heard of the experiment where a college professor asks his students to NOT think of pink elephants dancing in the rain? The more he says NOT to think about pink elephants dancing in the rain, the more the students DO think about pink elephants dancing in the rain!
The same concept applies to food cravings. The more you argue with yourself and try to push the food craving away, the stronger the food craving gets and the harder it is to keep fighting. In the end, the food craving wins and we end up indulging and feeling guilty afterwards.
With urge surfing, instead of fighting food cravings, mindfulness allows us to get past the strong urge (they usually only last for 3-5 mins anyway). Food cravings are just feelings. Those feelings don’t have to be acted upon, just like you wouldn’t act on feelings of agression. I hope not, anyway. Mindfulness allows us to see it for what it is, non-judgementally. We can let it pop up, peak, and then naturally pass. You may even find your mind drifting onto other things!
In summary, instead of fighting food cravings, if you ride the wave of what you’re feeling, you’ll realize that these food cravings don’t have as much power as they used to. They’re just feelings and we can learn to deal with those feelings in more effective, less destructive ways.