A New Way to Control Crazy Food Cravings

Yes, this used to be me…craving anything (and everything!) sweet.

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 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.

Always craving cookie or cake (like I did)? You may need to do some guided imagery.

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.

Good advice for every aspect of our lives: stop rushing—and start appreciating the present moment!

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 min of something called body scanning (a form of 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 “brief guided imagery strategies might form useful components of weight-loss programs that attempt to address cravings”.

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.

If you need help with guided imagery or mindfulness, here are two resources I highly recommend (and have used myself):

A basic guide to mindfulness that I have listened to many times.

Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn (CD, $13.37). Just listening to this guy’s voice is enough to de-stress you, but this CD helps you learn how to stop and become mindful in all aspects of your life.

Health Journeys Weight Loss by Belleruth Naparstek (mp3, $11.98; CD, $17.98). Belleruth is the expert when it comes to guided imagery.