“The anticipation of reward is not happiness” – Judson Brewer
After starting a ketogenic diet due to the elimination of carbohydrates, you’ve probably felt a sense of craving. Cravings for the crisp snap or crunch of starchy foods, or maybe the sweet taste of sugar.
How do we deal with carb cravings? Is there a mindset that could help?
Let me give you what has worked for me (and others) as you continue your own journey towards detachment of food rewards and cravings.
Cravings can occur at any time of day, but for most people, those cravings for carbs especially happen in the afternoon, or at night. It could happen in front of the tv, whilst scrolling social media, or even when you least expect it.
Looking for answers quickly?
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First, you must understand what carb cravings feel like
If you want to learn how to deal with cravings, you must first understand exactly what emotions and physical sensations you feel as you crave carbs.
Is it a lack of energy? Or maybe a headache? Do you get a tingling sensation in your arms, or do you get an empty feeling in your stomach?
Next time you feel like you have this type of craving, I want you to note down all the feelings and sensations you get. Write them down on your phone or on a piece of paper.
Then what? Do these feelings get worse? Do you feel the more you try to distract yourself the more intense those feelings get?
Avoiding feeling “happy” or “sad” or “hungry” by giving into cravings just reinforces the habit. The more you give in to your cravings, the stronger those cravings get because you’re creating a positive reinforcement to the emotion. Your body will eventually start to think that everything can be fixed with food…
Comfort food is a cuisine based entirely around reinforcing an emotion and tying it in with food. Food can create comfort, and it becomes a problem when you crave food to avoid feeling a particular emotion (like sadness or boredom).
You need to ride the wave of your craving. It’s quite possible that the feelings and emotions you feel during those cravings will continue to get more intense before they get better, but once the peak of the wave hits, you’ll already be prepared to ride the wave down.
Practical Ways To Help Carb Cravings
Here are some practical ways you can stop using carbs to replace an emotion, which will help the cravings subside:
- Walk – walking creates a third space, which detaches you from the state of emotions you’re trapped in and gives your brain a new situation to focus on. It also increases your blood sugar levels slightly, which will give your body a source of glucose on its own.
- Drink water – Feeling hungry, tired, sore or lethargic can be quenched with water. It’s the most sophisticated drink money can buy.
- Ride the wave of the emotion – Just allow your body to feel what you’re currently feeling, and remind yourself that all feelings are only temporary, and will eventually subside.
If you’re really struggling with food, it’s always best to seek out medical advice. Talking with friends and family can really help, not only with your own accountability but also to shift your own state of mind out of the internal narrative into an external discussion.
If you’re looking to understand cravings on a deeper level, I highly suggest reading “The Craving Mind” by Judson Brewer, or Brain over Binge by Katheryn Hanson, both fantastic books that tackle the scenario in different ways. (please note, the links to both books are affiliate links which at no cost to you help me write more articles like this one)
If you’re looking to understand how to break free from carb cravings, I suggest enrolling into the 5 Day Carb Cleanse and learn the 3 keys to a fail-proof way to approach the ketogenic diet.