I almost completely survived (but ended up failing miserably – more on that later) a four week health challenge. It was hard. It stretched me in a lot of surprising and interesting ways. And I came out of it learning a lot about how to resist temptation or cravings at those crunch times – 3pm chocolate cravings, Sunday prep (craving a Netflix binge instead of a meal prep party) and after work drinks. I’ve set out below the ten strategies that got me through the perfect eating aspect of the challenge that can easily be implemented for the resistance of any craving or temptation you’re trying to deal with: be it food, procrastination, social media…anything.
1. Remind yourself that you can do anything for fifteen minutes.
You don’t have to resist your craving for a year. You don’t have to resist your craving for a month. Just set yourself fifteen minutes. You can survive any craving for fifteen minutes. When that fifteen minutes ends – you may be over it. Or you might need to start a new fifteen minutes. But don’t look back. Only look forward to the end of that fifteen minutes.
2. Drink water
Whatever you’re craving – just drink a glass of water. Force it down. Cry about it if you have to (no shame, I’ve been there). Then – realise, it’s gone. And you’re a tad more hydrated.
3. Eat something else first.
Say you’re craving is for a chocolate bar (mm, those Freddo frog fundraiser boxes, gets me every time). Before you may eat the Freddo, you must eat two carrots. Two entire carrots. If you don’t eat them, well you weren’t hungry and you don’t need the chocolate. If you do eat them, you’re full now and don’t need the chocolate.
4. Go talk to someone for five minutes
This is great in an office at 3pm. Everyone wants to chat. Once you’ve chatted you’ve distracted yourself from your craving and poof! It’s gone…
5. Review your weigh-in stats.
However you record them, on your phone, in a notebook, in your head. Look at your success, be proud of yourself… Don’t eat that craving.
6. Look at your list of goals
You are always your greatest motivation. Don’t forget who you are and why you’ve chosen to do what you do. Do it for yourself.
And if you don’t have one…
7. Write your list of goals
Why is it you’re resisting certain cravings? Are you resisting chocolate because you want to be healthier? Are you resisting using social media at certain times (or at all) to improve your focus and reduce your dependence on your phone? Are you resisting impulse purchasing to improve your finances? Get those dreams into a list, and make an action plan of how you’ll achieve them. Then, next time a craving comes along, you can comply with number 6 on this list and you’ll be reminded that the bigger picture is so much more than this small moment of craving – and the willpower you develop now will only build you into a greater version of yourself in the future.
8. List to a song
This is just another distraction – but listen to a song, listen to it loud, enjoy it, and let yourself forget that craving.
9. Habit switch
A craving is just a habit that you’re trying to cut out of your life. But I bet you also have habits you’re trying to create for all kinds of reasons. I use this strategy when I desperately want to inhale a Boost bar. I want to learn to speak Spanish. So that casual Boost bar craving comes along, and instead of running to the vending machine, I open up my Duolingo app, do a Spanish lesson (or two, or three, depending on just how bad the day has been), and there you have it – want a chocolate, learn a language. Random, and unassociated, but it does remind you in a tangible way the goals you set for yourself and habits you want to build, and therefore why you no longer want to do the other habit / craving.
10. Acknowledge it
The more zen approach to your craving basically involves sitting, acknowledging how you feel, the craving, where it came from, how it manifests, why it came about and then allow that feeling to melt away.