Heart of the Issue
So let’s talk feelings for a minute, two in particular: pleasure and desire.
We are all wired in our brains to seek out pleasure to ensure our physical survival. If we didn’t seek pleasure we wouldn’t eat and then we’d die of starvation. This is where desire comes in.
We desire the pleasure of food so then we eat. When we eat certain foods, especially junk foods, our brains interpret the physiological response that comes from that food as really important to our survival and then our desire for that food becomes higher than the desire for food that yields a more “natural” physiological response. We are then left with what I like to call over-desire.
What I mean when I refer to junk foods, I’m specifically talking about foods that are highly processed, and have higher fat content and higher sugar content (i.e., potato chips, crackers, cookies, fried foods, candy, fruit snacks, cakes, doughnuts, etc.).
All of these foods have zero or close to zero nutritional value.
Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and proteins don’t yield a similar high physiological response so our desire for them is more in line with maintaining a healthy weight.
The physiological response, also known as pleasure, is the reward we get for eating the item.
When we have a higher reward, we have a higher desire for that thing.
How do I stop craving junk food?
The key to answering the question of how to stop craving junk food is deconditioning our desire back to our natural levels.
We don’t want to resist our cravings (the desire we feel). The real answer is to leave the desire unanswered, and the craving unanswered.
Stay with me here.
I never said this would be a quick fix. Quick fixes don’t work.
Leaving the desire unanswered will be uncomfortable and it’s actually building a strength within you that will give you the power over the food that you are looking for.
So, what does this look like, to leave the desire unanswered? It comes down to feeling your feelings in the moment and not GIVING IN TO your feelings when it comes to your junk food desires.
Some examples of “feeling” your feelings can be writing about the feelings, it can be breathing through the feelings, it can be going for a walk – as long as you’re not using the walk as a way to distract yourself from the craving.
The Craving Jar
One of my favorite ways of overcoming junk food cravings is to have a cravings jar.
I get myself a clear jar and some glass beads. Every time I have a junk food craving and I leave it unanswered I put a bead in the jar. Once the jar is full I take myself for a massage or a mani/pedi.
The reason this really works is that I have a visual that shows me how many times I’ve handled a craving without giving in to it.
You got this.
Ending your junk food cravings is just one unanswered craving away.