A Proven Way to Control Crazy Food Cravings

I used to crave sugar desperately….morning, noon (mostly), and night. I was a full-on sugar addict. I would find reasons to whip up a batch of cookies (or a cake) all the time. And I drank a chai tea latté (from a mix that was loaded with sugar) every morning. In fact, I looked forward to that chai tea every day.

At that same time, I was also not getting a lot of sleep (I was breastfeeding my baby, which lasted a very long 18 months) and was stressed handling three kids and a growing business. Looking back in time, I was a sugar addict when was working around the clock, too, sans baby.

I’ve found that stress, lack of sleep, and lack of mindfulness when it comes to living and eating are all triggers for out-of control cravings-which can lead to weight gain and yo-yo weight fluctuations.

Valerie Latona
A v is shown for the letter v.
Yes, this used to be me…craving anything (and everything!) sweet.

Now, I’m much more mindful because I’m not rushing through life at warp speed; I get plenty of sleep (when one of the kids isn’t waking me up because of a nightmare or a tummyache) and I’m eating a diet that’s rich in greens, whole grains, and beans.

The result: I’m not craving the sweet stuff anymore. In fact, I don’t really get food cravings any more. I’m back down to my pre-baby weight-and have more energy than ever.

So it’s no surprise to me, then, that I recent study from Plymouth University in the UK found that Guided Imagery (a technique of focusing and guiding thoughts that uses all the senses) helps to reduce food cravings. People involved in the study were asked to abstain from food overnight, and then to carry out 10 minutes of something called body scanning (a form of mindfulness meditation), guided imagery, or a mind-wandering task.

They rated their cravings before, during, and after. While cravings rose for the mind wanderers, it didn’t for the guided imagery or body scanning groups.

Investigators conclude that “guided imagery strategies might form useful components of weight-loss programs that … address cravingsâ€.

My bottom line: being mindful of your life, of what you eat, of what you do every second of the day helps you stay focused and in balance-which benefits your health, your weight, and your sanity.

Valerie Latona

How to Get Started With Mindfulness

Stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath. Now take another deep breath, closing your eyes if you have to. Do this two or three more times. There, you’ve done it…that’s mindfulness. Incorporate just this a couple of times into your day and you’ll find that it slows you down.

Other simple ways to incorporate mindfulness into your day:

• Put a limit on the mindless scrolling. Set your phone aside, turn off notifications, and just sit (with a cup of coffee or tea) observing the sounds and sights around you. Constant social media or email scrolling can add to the frenetic nature of life—and make you want to reach for sugar. 

• Take a walk. Just getting out of your space and going for a walk can clear your mind, particularly if you walk silently (without music or talking on the phone). Listen to the birds chirping or look at the trees and flowers. It’s less about how long the walk is and more about how mindful you can be while you’re doing it.

• Don’t eat while you’re on your phone or watching TV. This is a big one for so many people. Studies have shown that mindless eating not only causes you to eat more, it also makes you less satisfied with what you’ve eaten, causing you to want to snack on more later.

• Try an app. I love the Breath Ball app; you breathe in and out to an expanding and shrinking visual ball. Watching the ball guides you to take slow deep breaths in and out. Having a visual cue is helpful.

• Tape a reminder to your desk or fridge. It’s easy to forget to stop and take deep breaths. I love the Calm Strips; I have one taped to my work station. These simple stick-on strips that encourage deep breathing with reminders like “Inhale. Hold. Exhale. Hold.†are visual cues to focus you anytime during the day.

If you need help with guided imagery or mindfulness, I recommend (and have used myself):

Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn Just listening to this guy’s voice is enough to de-stress you, but this “program” on Audible helps you learn how to stop and become mindful in all aspects of your life.