In 2019, Dr. Forman reported the follow-up results of a larger randomized controlled trial of 190 people that found that participants who practiced acceptance and mindfulness strategies were twice as likely to maintain 10 percent weight loss after three years as those who did. mainly focused on resisting temptation and suppressing thoughts of food.
“Surprisingly, there was a huge quality of life benefit that was somewhat unexpected,” said Dr. Forman. “It has also benefited her well-being and emotional state.”
How To Cope With Cravings
For this week’s Eat Well Challenge, try these acceptance and mindfulness techniques to help focus on food cravings. (Times subscribers can sign up for the Eat Well Challenge through the Well newsletter and get additional advice by sending the word “hello” to 917-810-3302 for a link to participate.)
Practice “urge surfing”.
Cravings are short-lived and some research suggests that they peak in around 5 minutes. Urge surfing means rather than reacting to the waves of your thoughts, feelings, and desires, and it is a successful strategy often used to treat drug use. Follow these four steps.
Identify your desires. Use the phrase “I feel the urge to eat…” and fill in the field.
Notice what happens next. Feel the urge as it rises, rises, falls and fades. Notice the intensity of the desire. “I feel the urge to eat potato chips. It started as a 5, but now it’s a 7.
“Our desires inevitably rise and fall, just like waves in an ocean,” said Dr. Forman. “Trying to fight this wave will never work. It doesn’t work when you want the cravings to go away. You accept that it is there and even that it should be there, and you coexist – surf – with it. “
Ask: How little is enough?
There is nothing wrong with eating a food that you crave unless it becomes a problem for you. Dr. Judson Brewer, an associate professor at Brown University School of Public Health who created a mindfulness app called Eat Right Now, told the story of a patient who routinely ate a full bag of potato chips while watching a favorite TV show with her daughter.
Instead of stopping them from eating the chips, Dr. Brewer told her to watch out for every chip she ate and how many chips it took to feel full. Only a few weeks later, the woman reported that she had slowly reduced her chip habit and that her craving for the second potato chip had now been satisfied.
“She could eat two and be done,” said Dr. Brewer.
Dr. Brewer said mindfulness can help people cope with food cravings without having to go without a favorite food altogether. “It’s not that we can never have a chocolate chip cookie,” said Dr. Brewer. “But when I eat one, I really take care. I enjoy it and I ask myself: do I need more? “