Using mindfulness to manage food cravings has proved very popular with my weight loss clients. Those coming for weight loss hypnosis have found that practising mindfulness has been particularly empowering and when combined with traditional hypnotherapy approaches for weight management has meant that cravings and snack eating has diminished significantly and in many cases stopped completely by the third session. Although there is now good evidence to support the use of mindfulness stretegies to manage food cravings it is not completely clear which aspect of mindfulness is responsible for the effect.
There are two techniques most commonly used to help people change the way they think, the first one is often used with CBT which identifies the thought as inaccurate and then replaces it with a more accurate one. For example ” I need crisps” vs ” I don’t need crisps, I want crisps but I can have something else instead….. a piece of fruit , a glass of water, or do something else instead go for a walk, talk to someone” etc. This actually requires quite a lot of effort on your part and the desire or thought often keeps popping back into your head.
More success is often found by the second one which simply helps people to better understand how they think accepting the thought ” I want Crisps” and recognising that this is just a thought and nothing else and simply observing it as such. Having learnt and been practising mindfulness meditations you are then better able to ride the wave of any craving that accompanies the thought.
It appears to me from working this way, that being able to aknowledge, accept then detaching yourself from your thoughts about food is the best way of managing and ultimately preventing cravings. Do not try to suppress the craving or ignore it or give yourself a critical running commentary on it….this will not help. Take a deeper slower more intentional breath in and remind yourself that this feeling of craving is being fuelled by just a thought that you can dispell quite easily, any uncomfortable feelings in your body will also begin to subside. The more you practice the easier it gets!