For most of us, the word “cravings” might seem innocent, right?
For many; however, such as recovering alcoholics or drug addicts, “cravings” means much more than that. For these people, cravings are a matter to be taken seriously as they can lead to relapse, which can cost them their families, jobs, homes, and even their lives. That’s right, cravings can be a matter of life or death for such people.
Compare that to a sugar or junk food addict. Giving in to a craving can mean that a person who has managed to eat completely healthy for months, relapses and is right back to eating junk food all the time. That person is back at the starting point, just as addicted as they were before quitting.
One critical thing to realize if you want to know how to stop cravings, is that giving in to a craving doesn’t mean indulging for that one time, although your mind may try to convince you of that. Giving in to that craving means you will indulge now, then perhaps the day after, or a few days later, and then again (and again and again).
The law of addiction:
“Administration of a drug to an addict will cause reestablishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance.” – WhyQuit.com
How to stop cravings
To begin with, I’m going to outline a few methods that I personally believe will help stop cravings for sugar and junk food. However, these methods can apply to any sort of craving, including cigarette or drug cravings.
After that, I will list some other methods that I’ve found during my research. Some of them I haven’t tried myself, but they might be useful to certain people.
1. Take a hot shower
This is the best method that I know of.
There’s something about relaxing in a hot shower that helps to stop a craving. I don’t know exactly why, but it works very well for me.
The shower has to be HOT. Not so hot that you burn your skin, but hot enough to be a little past your comfort zone. It’s also important to give it enough time, perhaps 20-30 minutes.
2. Go for a walk or a run
This can help a lot. It is important to get your mind off of whatever it is that you’re craving, be it sugar craving, a nicotine craving, or whatever. When you sit at home on your couch, it’s really hard to get your mind focused on something else.
I don’t know why this works, maybe it’s the endorphins, the fresh air, or simply the fact that you manage to think about something else?
Longer walks are preferable, at least 30 minutes.
3. Remind yourself why you quit, and what you will lose by giving in
When a craving pops up in the mind, it is very effective at blocking other thoughts. It can become hard to remember why you quit in the first place.
That’s why it is a good idea to have a list of reasons why you quit, as well as a list of benefits you think you may achieve by giving up junk food in the long term. If you have a list, read it. If you don’t have one, then try to remember your reasons for quitting. Don’t just “think” about them, and don’t just “read” the list, try to actively remember how you feel about those things and really contemplate them.
Also, try to remember how you felt the last time you had junk food after deciding not too. Maybe it was a guilty feeling, or you felt kind of sick of yourself for your weakness?
Try to actively remember the feeling that you had, not just the “fact” that you felt bad.
4. Other methods
There are some other methods on how to stop cravings that I’ve heard people mention. Personally, these haven’t worked for me, but they might help others.
I’ve seen some people (so-called “experts”) recommend that you give in a little and have a small bite of what you are craving. Do NOT do that. That is the worst thing you can do. If you are a junk food addict then that will lead to a full-blown relapse and possibly a binge.
- Have something sweet, like a fruit. This might work for some people, but I get junk food cravings despite having just eaten a meal.
- Drink water. Some people like to claim that cravings are caused either by hunger or dehydration, but I disagree. I believe hunger and cravings are completely different things.
- Eat frequently. Some like to suggest that cravings can be prevented by eating multiple times per day. Given that eating too frequently can cause colon cancer, I can’t recommend that approach.
- Talk to someone. Talk to someone who knows what you’re going through, explain to them that you’re craving unhealthy food and ask them for some encouragement.
- Don’t use artificial sweeteners. This one seems kind of reasonable. If you feel that artificial sweeteners give you cravings, then it might be a good idea to not have them.
- Eat more protein. I’ve heard some people suggest this.
- Remove the temptations. This is a good idea. If you don’t keep junk food at your house, you may prevent those cravings from occurring in the first place.
- Exercise. This is another good idea. Exercising regularly can improve your mental health and well-being, which might prevent those cravings from occurring.
- Get enough sleep. This is also important for overall health and well-being.
- Manage stress. This is also important for your overall health.
- Avoid certain triggers. Try to avoid specific activities or places that give you cravings.
- Eat a healthy diet. It helps to generally eat a healthy diet.
- Take a low-dose high-quality multivitamin. This helps prevent any nutritional deficiencies.
- Don’t get too hungry. This is yet another good tip. Preventing yourself from getting too hungry will help prevent uncontrollable cravings from appearing.
Some of these tips on how to stop cravings can definitely be useful for a lot of people.
It is important to realize that if you manage to overcome sugar and junk food addiction in the long-term, these cravings will eventually stop. The cravings may be common in the beginning, but after a few weeks and months of abstinence, they will probably not be an issue.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via c1.staticflickr.com