Everyone has a craving now and then. But, there is another fact that can’t be ignored and that is “food cravings cause weight gain.” So, is there a way to satisfy your cravings without gaining any weight and staying as fit as you want to be? The answer is ‘yes.’
The struggle with food cravings is genuine in today’s world. If you are also having a tough time saying no to all the junk food and all the sweet, yummy treats out there, then we have a solution for you.
The trick for easy way to satisfy cravings is to eat all the good stuff out there while building awesome habits. Many of us want to develop great habits and stick to them, but it can often be tough to build. Nobody is perfect, and probably you want to develop a particular habit, such as waking up early, exercising regularly or any other. So, why not combine the two? Use food as a reward for accomplishing what you planned to do.
The single term that can be used for this approach is “positive reinforcement.” Reinforcement can be defined as an event that takes place during or on completion of an action, and increase the chances of that action to occur in the future.
Too good to be true?
It might sound too good to be true, but in reality, positive reinforcement is a valid approach to satisfy your cravings by developing great habits. So, how you can set it up and start practicing positive reinforcement?
The easiest way to set it up is by first identifying the habit you want to develop. It could be something like waking up early and the second thing you need to consider is the reward, this can be the stuff you love or the food item that you crave the most and then just combine the two, so you can have incremental improvement.
Initially, you can start by doing a little and then reward yourself and then gradually move towards the harder things. Building little by little will also be easier for you to stick to when compared to traditional approach. So, in short, you will be keeping it simple for yourself by using rewards you actually want. Now as far as choosing the rewards is concerned it could be anything that you crave or could eat anytime. Like, dark chocolate can be your reward. Dark chocolate is one thing that many people crave. If dark chocolate is one of many things that you also crave, then use dark chocolate as your reward. Why we are saying this, is due to its added benefit of being quite satisfying.
You might not have realized, but usually, you don’t crave dark chocolate after having the one piece of it. You feel quite satisfied and feel pretty good with only one piece. But, if we talk about milk chocolate or any other sweet tooth crepe than you have to have more than one piece. You just have to have more of it, to satisfy your craving; while this is not the case with more than 80% Coco. So, you can use it as a reward for say, 30 minutes of deep, focused effort.
You can set a timer for 30 minutes and every 30 minutes when it goes off; you can have a piece of chocolate. So, you will be rewarded for your 30 minutes of hard work. After your reward takes a small break and then repeat it as many times as you can, or you have the time or the dexterity. This approach is very simple and easy to stick to, but just because it is easy doesn’t mean it is not effective. So, you should not dismiss it only because it is simple.
Also, there is an added benefit of this approach. With positive reinforcement approach, you also minimize your cravings for that stuff, because slowly you are conditioning your mind to crave that stuff only as a reward for completing something challenging. Your mind gets conditioned, that you have to put certain efforts before you can eat what you are craving. This is the best thing ever- you are developing productive, fulfilling habits while you are satisfying your craving or eating the sweets that you love and most importantly, you are mitigating your cravings. So, this is a win-win situation.
Now coming to another important factor of this complete technique, that is choosing the habit. As such, there is no limitation or condition of the habit that you could use this approach for. It could be anything from writing to meditation, deep focused work, waking up early or almost anything you want to build into your life or want to have as a part of your daily routine. Just choose any habit and break it down into tiny chunks, probably something that you have been procrastinating on. It could be even your big goals that you desperately want to achieve, just chunk that down and use food rewards for motivation on that and to move forward. It will be effective, for sure.
So, in short, you should use food rewards that are compelling for you, for things that you want. Make sure that you reward yourself immediately after getting the work done or doing the timed scheduled activity. Now, when giving yourself the reward, you should use the reward as little as possible. As one piece of dark chocolate is great, but one whole pack is not a good idea, or one spoonful of cake is great, but the whole cake is again not a good idea.
There is also a great book about it, named “Don’t shoot the dog” by Karen Pryor. This book focuses mainly on the course of training animals, but you don’t get scared by that because it has got great stuff on it. Also, you can use that stuff for your kid or yourself or your dog or even on your family. To be polite, don’t tell them that you are practicing any such approach on them.
Use foods correctly as rewards and you will build awesome habits that will sustain you and bring more and more happiness and fulfillment while eating more of the junk food you love and also staying fit and strong.