Making any positive change in your life is hard work. It takes effort, dedication and there are always going to be challenges. There is no getting around it. Of course, going vegan is no different. Did you know that 70% of people who try to go vegan give up?
That’s because there are a lot of challenges; it’s a whole new way of eating, there are strange foods, resistance from family and friends and more. But the one big challenge that I find people slip up on again and again is food cravings. So many people just can’t get past the cravings for old and familiar foods, or tasty non-vegan favourites. It’s difficult, even for the most ardent vegan want to be.
If this is you, don’t despair. There are ways to conquer your cravings, and I am going to show you how:
First let’s take a look at how cravings work.
Generally these kinds of cravings for non-vegan foods, go beyond the need to satisfy your hunger or nutrition requirements. They mostly arise due to pleasurable memories and associations of eating. You see, smell or think of a specific food and it triggers a desire to eat it. That is a completely normal reaction. Everybody has them.
Now when you have a craving you have three choices:
- You can give in and eat the food
- You can resist and use willpower to white-knuckle it
- You can allow the craving to go unanswered.
Option 3, is the permanent solution to getting rid of a craving for good. But what do I mean by allowing the craving to go unanswered? It means, instead of feeling the craving and rewarding your brain by eating the food, you feel the urge of the craving, acknowledge that you want it, but don’t eat the food.
You don’t try to resist the craving, and you don’t give in. Instead you start to train your brain that desiring a food doesn’t mean that you get the reward of eating it. After doing this enough times, your brain will realise that it gets no response from you to a craving, and it will give up. Gradually the urge to eat the food will disappear and that “feel urge – eat food – get reward” craving cycle gets broken for good. Here’s how to do it.
STEP 1: Feel The Craving
When you feel a craving arise, instead of trying to resist it or ignore it, lean into it. Be present and feel it in your body. Do you feel agitated or restless? Is the feeling in your chest, your arms, your legs or somewhere else? Get curious and allow the feelings to be there without reacting. They will pass, and remember feelings can’t hurt you.
STEP 2: Watch The Craving
Always remember, you are not the craving. You can detach yourself from the craving and watch with curiosity instead. Notice that the thoughts and feelings come and go with differing intensity. Watch the uncomfortable feelings and see that you don’t need to do anything for the craving to disappear all on its own.
STEP 3: Be Aware Of Your Thinking
Your cravings are an urge or desire, in other words, they are a feeling. And just like other feelings, they were created by a thought. Your cravings aren’t really being triggered by the foods you want at all, they are being triggered by your thoughts about those foods. Getting to the bottom of these thoughts will be very helpful in understanding and overcoming your cravings.
STEP 4: You Are In Control
You always have the power to choose how you think and act. Examine your thoughts and be intentional how you respond. Remember the three choices, you can give in, resist or allow. If you keep choosing to sit with that craving and allow it, you will gain control over the cravings before you know it.
And remember, this is a process. If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up. Take note of how you feel, of what you were thinking and decide what you will do differently next time. This is not a quick fix, it will take time, but it will work if you stick with it. The good news is, once you learn this technique it is not only helpful for your non-vegan food cravings, but will work to overcome any craving or bad habit.
It is a life skill worth mastering, don’t you think? I’d love to hear your comments…
About The Author
Georgia Bamber is plant based eating advocate and resident agony aunt for Vegan Australia.
She is a success coach and author of the book “ACHIEVE ANYTHING YOU WANT: a step by step guide to reaching your goals and achieving your dreams”.
If you would like to learn more about Georgia or buy a copy of her book visit www.acoachinyourpocket.com