All of us have struggled to keep off certain food – either we are watching our weight, or due to some health condition, or because our profession demands it. But it gets hard if we are surrounded by tasty looking food, doesn’t it?

Studies suggest that there is more than just one ‘type’ of eating. There are actually three types. There is emotional eating, external eating and biological eating.

As you guessed, emotional eating happens due to extreme emotions of sadness, happiness, guilt, anger and so on. External eating happens because in a situation, certain foods are consumed and so our environment gives us eating cues, even when we are not hungry. For example, having popcorn along with movies is such a classic that going without that is kind of unimaginable.

The Psychology of Eating (1)

So, what do you do when you get such sticky cravings? Here are some refreshingly new ways to manage them. After all, most of our cravings are in the mind:

Brush: Yup. If you brush your teeth, your mouth and brain ‘wake up’ from the zombie craving zone that they were in and it helps you to look at the world with new eyes. The piece of cake leaves its gigantic proportions and reduces to its normal size, in your mind’s eye.

Ask your craving some pointed questions: Treat your cravings like an uninvited guest. Ask: Why are you here? Where did you come from? What do you want? This will help you to find out whether it is external eating or emotional eating that you are indulging in, and once you are aware that you don’t NEED to eat that, you can fight it off better.

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Argue with your craving: Put on the black coat and argue with your craving. What will I get by indulging in you? Are there any benefits? Can I make up for you with my exercise schedule tomorrow? Is it the right time to eat you or will you make me put on whatever I have lost in the last two weeks? This will help you to postpone the craving till it is okay to have it, maybe after heavy exercise, or before 7 pm.

Have the element not the food: Our bodies crave certain elements, like sodium, carbs etc, but we interpret the need for the element as the need for specific foods. For example, may be when you crave chips, your body actually wants just some sodium (salt), which you can easily have in the form of nimboo pani. So try to find out the element your body needs and give it a healthier food containing that. You can do this for your common cravings in advance.

Ask ‘How would I feel?’: Ask yourself how would you feel by indulging in a craving, immediately after having, the next morning, and within one week. Also ask yourself whether in the long run, will you remember this temporary ecstasy more or the guilt more? This will help to put your choice in perspective of time and your fitness goals.

Drink/eat something with a strong or surprising flavour: This is a substitute for tip number one, because you cannot randomly start brushing when you are out with people. Any sort of surprising flavour like mint, which are strong, can help to change the mental zone you are in when you crave. So try an appetizer or a drink with some ‘rich’ or surprising flavour in order to shake off the craving.