Monday comes and you resolve to eat better, do more exercise and generally take care of yourself because you know: ‘you are what you eat’ / ‘your body is a temple’ / or whatever mantra you care to adopt..
Breakfast goes well (once you learn how to work the nutribullet you got two Christmases ago) and you get to work feeling cleansed and energised in a way only a ‘Mean Green Smoothie’ can make you.
Mid morning snack approach and you’re feeling confident that you can carry this new attitude through, so you pop out to get a coffee (soy latte, naturally) and that’s when you hear the cries…
Strolling past a patisserie, one-by-one the cinnamon whirls and doughnuts start calling your name, begging to be bought. Hot-footing it to the local café, desperate for some respite, all you can see on arrival is flapjacks, muffins and cookies. You may get out alive and back to your desk with your beverage only to be confronted by the desire to devour a burger at lunch topped with bacon. And cheese. And did we mention a side of fries and onion rings?
You can have all the willpower in the world, but sometimes, your body doesn’t want to play ball.
Although we need food for survival purposes, hunger often only dictates when we eat, not what we eat. The latter is controlled by the chemicals in our brain – foods such as chocolate trigger the feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine making you feel calm and happy. Your brain recalls the way you felt and understandably, wants more.
And the more you deny yourself, the worse it gets until those multipack hula-hoops and twixes you bought to last the week are gone quicker than you can say #eatclean.
But don’t panic – you can get around this by tricking your brain. Here are 5 strategies to help you fight back:
1. De-stress: Stress is one of the biggest triggers of cravings. When your body is on high alert and being flooded with adrenaline and cortisol, you are more likely to reach for foods that are both high sugar and high fat. Try meditation or avoiding stressful situations and your cravings will reduce in intensity.
2. Visualise restraint: Just before you reach for the ‘bad’ food, picture a big red ‘pause’ button in your mind and say to yourself that you will revisit the decision a bit later. This is better than a ‘stop’ button because you are not denying yourself anything, which will only make you want it more.
3. Think in small increments of time: Cravings don’t usually last longer than 10 minutes. So when one hits, think to yourself, ‘Fine, I’ll deal with it in 10 minutes’. You’ll be surprised how often the craving will disappear within that time and you can get on with other things.
4. Mentally plan your day: Knowing what you are going to eat for the day means you are less likely to be lead astray by temptation. Spontaneous eating is the antithesis of willpower, so planning ahead will stop you from going to the fridge / corner shop / burrito joint for an instant hit.
5. Self-motivate / reward: Sign up to receive motivational quotes at mealtimes, either through the WatchFit App, Instagram or Pinterest, or program your email to send you inspirational messages that will help boost your resolve to beat the cravings. And each time you don’t give in, take a mental note and congratulate yourself; positive reinforcement will ensure you win the battle against those cravings!
Connect here with WatchFit Expert Roseanna Miller