Cravings, Cravings, Cravings!
As you can imagine, cravings are a common topic in my medical weight loss practice. But for some reason, it was particularly top of mind for my patients this week.
Perhaps because it is vacation season and some of the things that happen on vacation set us up for cravings.
Time changes and jet lag- sleep disturbances are a significant hormonal trigger to cravings.
Perhaps you consumed (more) alcohol. Alcohol is certainly a trigger especially if excessive (and hungover).
Or maybe you have been indulging more while on vacation. When we regularly consume more decadent food- particularly sweets- we create a habitual loop that triggers us to continue.
Whether we are talking about food or phones, alcohol, smoking, shopping or scrolling, cravings are something we all reckon with, and usually they are met with angst and frustration. In this week’s HealthBite I offer a shift from frustrating to effective and empowering.
The first step is to pause. Just take a breath and wait. As I mentioned in my TED talk, when we pause between the trigger and our reaction, between our desire and habitual response we are able to shift from reaction to intentional action.
Next, embrace the craving. That’s right. Do not resist it, fight it or negotiate with it. Rather, open your arms wide , invite her to sit on the couch with you and become friends . The moment you decide to tolerate the discomfort, you shift the power dynamic.
And then, I invite you to run thru a series of steps that allow you to see this craving through. As psychologist Dr. Alan Marlatt described, our cravings are like a wave. They begin subtly, slowly build, and like a wave, the craving will peak. This is the point it feels like our head is gonna explode if we don’t surrender and grab that or or . But here’s the thing, this feeling will pass, and like a wave the intensity of that craving will decrescendo and go away, if you let it.
Now you may not believe me, but let me ask you, when was the last time you sat patiently (and compassionately) and allowed your craving to pass? Maybe never. But it will pass, if you let it. If you want me to walk you through the steps from A to Z, you can listen in here.
Remember that this is a practice. The more you practice, the more skilled you become. You may decide to indulge your craving anyway but at least now you have greater awareness around what underlies your craving and how you experience it. Also by doing this practice regularly you will build your resilience to the sensation of the craving, even the discomfort lessening your reactivity. Cravings will naturally arise again, but having experienced this practice, you have the wisdom to know that it will pass and you are better positioned to let it do so.
What are you craving these days? Let’s set an intention. Next time you feel a craving: pause, befriend and ride the wave. Respond to this email and let me know how it goes!
Have a great week!