We are going to dive into some juicy stuff today around urges and cravings, and I’ll be sharing my simple 4-step process to overcome your urges.
Prefer to watch the video? Check it out here.
Have you ever found yourself being sooo good during the day, just to wind up eating ALL the foods you’d been trying to resist come 8 or 9pm at night?
Let’s take a look at how some of these urges show up in our lives…
Maybe you’ve got a job and it’s okay, but it just doesn’t light you up inside. Sure, your boss is alright, your coworkers aren’t total morons, and it pays pretty well, but you just don’t feel like you’re living in your purpose; you’re not living up to your full potential; you’re not living the life you thought you’d be living.
And rather than digging into these feelings and thoughts that are really driving the ship, it’s easier to reach for the cookies or open a new bag of chips.
Or maybe you’ve been working all day and it’s been busy, busy, busy. And then you’ve got to get the kids, take them to practice, feed the dog, feed the family, fold the mountain of laundry leftover from the weekend, and then it’s a struggle at bath time or meltdowns happen over homework…
Until FINALLY, you’re off the clock and can relax with a bowl of popcorn and your favorite show on Netflix.
Or maybe you’re married and while you were in love and all over each other at one point, the passion is gone and you haven’t had sex in months. Your biggest fear is that it’s because of your weight and he’s no longer attracted to you. It’s been so long it’s become this awkward elephant in the room that you just don’t talk about.
So rather than have a hard conversation and feeling rejected or learning that your spouse really isn’t attracted to you anymore… it’s easier to simply distract yourself with another bottle of wine.
We try to fill these voids with food, otherwise, all we’re left with are thoughts about ourselves, about our failures, our mistakes, our shortcomings.
So we go to war with food, making food the problem. The bread, the cheese, the chocolate, the candy, the alcohol, all these things are why you’re gaining weight or can’t lose weight, so you just need to cut them out. You think if you can just muscle through it, grin and bear it, then one day you’ll lose your weight and finally be happy… life will be better.
But eventually your willpower fades and you just don’t have the mental or emotional stamina to keep going. You think you need more willpower or a different diet, but whatever it is, you end up right back in old habits.
And you just don’t have the willpower to go back on it again. You can’t do it anymore; you don’t want to.
But what if you didn’t need willpower? What if you didn’t have to struggle to resist the food?
So today I want to dive into how we can decode and overcome our urges.
Rather than relying on willpower, I teach another method of allowing the urge.
This may sound really strange, because most of us are only familiar with:
- REACTING to the urge by giving in.
- RESISTING the urge by using willpower to grit your teeth and just say no.
- DISTRACTING yourself from the urge by turning to another activity or substituting with another reward like alcohol, shopping, or Facebook.
But here’s the problem…
Reacting will strengthen the habit,
Resisting will exhaust you, and
Distracting will blind you to what’s really fueling the cycle.
What if you could start to recognize what’s really driving the desire for food, like what this food a substitute for? Why is it that you’re turning to food in this moment, especially if you’re not hungry?
Ultimately, we want to uncover the thoughts and feelings underneath that desire to eat.
Step 1: Pause + Breathe
We need this moment to pause rather than just going on autopilot and grabbing the food.
This allows us to take a step back and really look at what’s going on.
The pause can be a minute. It can be five minutes, it can be 30 minutes. It could be for the whole day, but we want to start to understand WHY we’re reaching for food.
It’s easy to get caught up eating on auto-pilot, rather than assessing whether we’re really hungry, so this pause allows us a moment to process our thoughts and feelings.
Step 2: Feel
This has two parts actually:
>> What are you feeling in your body?
I want to challenge you to feel the sensation in your body, without reacting (and eating) and without freaking out in your head. Where do you feel it in your body? What does it feel like?
Too often, we reach for food without even realizing what we’re doing. Or maybe you’re trying to avoid the urge for something sweet, and you reach for a piece of bread or nuts. But this doesn’t solve the problem if you keep eating when you’re not hungry.
Truth is, the sensations in our bodies usually aren’t that bad; they’re not sharp pains and often not crazy intense (so long as you’re not trying to restrict entire food groups).
So why the urgency? Why do we freak out in our minds?
>> What are you feeling emotionally?
We’re not taught how to feel our emotions, or even that it’s ok, so we need to retrain our brains.
Are you feeling stressed? Hurt? Discouraged? Disappointed? Rejected? While many of us eat for positive reasons too, the majority of women I work with struggle to process the negative emotions most. We have this idea that life should be 99% AWESOME, and when it’s not, we think something has gone seriously wrong.
But nothing’s wrong, babe. Nothing’s wrong with YOU or your situation.
20% of life is what happens to you; 80% of life is how you choose to respond to it (which means your thoughts and beliefs about what that says about you and what’s possible for your future).
This is exactly the type of work I do with clients – truly understanding what’s going on internally and shifting the conversation.
Step 3: Think
So now we get to dive into WHY we feel the way we feel. What thoughts are driving the emotions? Go back to our thought model:
Circumstance → Thoughts → Feelings → Actions → Results
The action in the past has been to reach for food. We’ve identified the feelings that preceded that action. Now we want to understand the thoughts fueling the feeling.
I’ll share an example from my own life:
Action: I want to curl up in sweatpants and watch netflix with a bowl of ice cream.
Feeling: Discouraged, hurt, unloved, un-pretty
Thought: My husband’s a jackass; did he really just say I was getting fat?!
Circumstance: My husband said my belly was getting bigger
See how we can trace back from our desire to eat or cope with these negative feelings rather than addressing them?
Now had I thought “that’s ridiculous; he’s crazy” after the circumstance, rather than believing it was true and determining what that said about me, my emotions and therefore actions would have been totally different.
Step 4: Allow
Can you allow the urge to be there, without giving in and without trying to resist.
This is why food is NEVER the problem. It’s ALWAYS our thoughts and feelings.
Allowing yourself time to pause and process what you’re feeling and thinking gives you back your power. You’re not at the mercy of what people say or do around you, and it’s 100% YOUR CHOICE as to whether or not you want to eat in this moment.
As for me, I decided I no longer was the woman who ate sweets when she felt negative emotions, which meant I didn’t just need a new coping mechanism; I needed to process and heal from them.
Ready to dive deeper into overcoming your urges and cravings without willpower?
I’ll show you how to uncover the root cause of your habit, so that you can take your brain off auto-pilot and change your relationship to food and body permanently. Schedule your free clarity call here.