Will Mindfulness & Curiosity Cure Your Food Cravings?
By Joan Kent, PhD
Not long ago, Judson Brewer, M.D. gave a TEDMED talk. He proposed "curiosity" or increased mindfulness as the definitive cure for a craving or an addiction – regardless of the type of addiction.
Over the years, I've encountered a wide variety of cravings cures. Some of them assume cravings are imaginary, all in your head.
My research on food and brain chemistry suggests that cravings might be all in your head – if that means "all in your brain." Cravings are often neurochemical. That makes them physiological. And real.
Does that mean mindfulness or curiosity won't work? As I've said about other food issues, almost anything can work for some people. I do believe that mindfulness might be the answer to cravings for some people, at least sometimes.
How Can Mindfulness Help with Food Issues?
Mindfulness might help with reducing food intake and eliminating overeating. Using curiosity to figure out if you really need the dessert that's tempting you or that extra portion you want is a wise thing to do. Are you actually hungry or does the food just look appetizing? Is it about stress? Boredom?
Mindfulness in eating can be developed. One way might be intermittent fasting, another might be to include a couple of very low-calorie days into your week. I have a different plan that I will outline in a future post.
These practices can help some people feel in touch with all aspects of their eating: food selection, portion sizes, meal timing, even rate of consumption. Examining their state of mind before letting themselves eat out of habit helps people make changes – without white-knuckling, willpower fatigue, or other conflicts. Some have said it changed their relationship with food and eating.
Let's Get Back to Cravings
My doctoral study of cravings suggests that cravings can be brought on by a decrease – for various reasons I won't cover here – in specific brain chemicals.
In that case, is observing the craving with curiosity truly the mindful thing to do? Or might it even be considered a lack of mindfulness?
Perhaps the mindful thing would be to address low levels of those brain chemicals and restore them.
That's why I have historically recommended liquid B-complex. It can eliminate a craving in a few minutes. How? It gives the brain the co-factors it needs to re-establish optimal levels of the brain chemicals involved when a craving hits us.
Again: mindfulness, like anything, can work for at least some people, at least some of the time.
But what if you're in a situation where a craving hits you, and you have neither adequate time nor an opportune moment to sit and observe it curiously till it subsides? Or what if you need to concentrate on your work without distraction?
I can attest that it takes discipline to reach for liquid B-complex when you feel as if you'd kill for a brownie.
Yet I also submit that getting the brain back on track within a few minutes might be the mindful behavior that addresses the cause of the craving.
Long-term craving elimination can be accomplished through changes in food. If you'd like to get rid of cravings permanently, I'd be happy to help. Please visit www.LastResortNutrition.com and grab your free Empowered Eating Consult. Find out how easy it is to eliminate cravings altogether. It does work, and you can do it.
Brought to you by Dr. Joan Kent, best-selling author of Stronger Than Sugar: 7 Simple Steps to Defeat Sugar Addiction, Lift Your Mood, and Transform Your Health.