Your intentions are set and your plan of action is on point. You’ve started your fast and now you feel great. But then life kicks in. Someone got on your nerves at your job and you need a drink or you were tempted to stop at your favorite bakery on your way home and your friends want to meet up at the most delicious taco spot. Now surviving your first fast is starting to seem like an impossible task.
So the cravings start and you’re fighting the urge to cave in. The words of Andre 3000 on UGK’s 2007 rap hit, “I Choose You,” “Don’t Do It. Reconsider. Read some literature on the subject!” dance through your mind. That’s why you’re here after all. At least read the rest of this before making the decision to call it quits.
Cravings tend to arrive for three reasons — emotional triggers, physical triggers, and social triggers. Here are ways to tackle all three kinds.
I’m an emotional eater and whenever I’m angry or sad, I tend to grab the nearest cookie. I remember getting a huge burger after having a really bad hair appointment. Did it help me cope? Nope! It fed my disappointment and I felt worse.
I had a habit of dealing with emotions in an unhealthy way and I had to change that. First, I had to acknowledge it was a habit that I resorted to when I was sad or angry. I was able to shift the focus away from food and change it to something that benefitted me.
Because eating is a way we hold in emotions, I suggest expressing your emotions in other ways. Here are some ideas:
- Venting to a friend (or your anonymous Tumblr blog)
- Journaling (Old school pen and paper or digitally. I personally love creating video journal entries)
- Dance (A twerk a day makes it hard to hold on to all that emotional weight)
- Listen to music
- Watch a movie or a cartoon (See what the Crystal gems are up to and eat vicariously through Steven Universe)
“My mind’s telling me no. BUT MY BODY, MY BODY IS TELLING ME YAAAASSSSS!” I’m pretty sure this quote has crossed your mind when you were tempted to eat something you shouldn’t. Don’t be like R. Kelly, fight the temptation!
Your body might be telling you that you are deprived of a certain nutrient and your mind thought about the most unhealthy thing you can eat to get that nutrient. For example, sometimes I crave fatty foods like pizza and burgers on my fast. In order to combat that, I eat healthy fats such as avocados and nuts.
Or maybe you’re having sugar withdrawals and have a craving for something in particular. Why not try to create an alternative. For me, it’s chocolate sweets. Whenever I crave something chocolate, I make myself a healthy chocolate smoothie made with cocoa powder, bananas, hemp milk and other yummy ingredients. It hits the spot every time. Sometimes it takes some creativity and experiments to qualm the cravings. Give some a shot, you never know what recipe you’ll discover.
Fasting can be difficult in social settings but it’s possible. It’s up to you whether you want to publicly announce your fast or not. Regardless of the choice, you should have some sort of support. My favorite support team is alway available to me via the Internet. There are tons social media groups dedicated to fasting and even motivational videos of fasting experiences. These spaces are extremely good for information, accountability and understanding when you might not get that from your friends or family.
Great, you have solid support on the internet. Then your mom wants invites you to have brunch at your favorite place. Why not suggest non-food activities? Go to that exhibit you wanted to go to. Instead of the taco spot, take your friends to a cycling class. Shoot some pool. Go to a new bar. Think of all the activities that you want to try and experience, this is the perfect time to do so.
Finding a new way to tackle the three types of triggers can help you deal with cravings along this journey. And if you do give in, no worries. Forgive yourself and keep going.