The truth about how long it takes to stop cravings

Me_Eating_Carrot to stop cravings

So…how long does it take to stop cravings?

It will take time and determination to stop cravings. But you can do it, because many other people have…so why not you?

How much time?

Well, before we get to that, we need to understand two things: the main ‘secret’, and what your brain needs to do.

The secret

This isn’t very exciting, I’m afraid, but according to the experts, the secret to stop cravings is:

Constant daily repetition. Constant daily repetition. Constant daily repetition.

Get the idea?

In other words, doing something different – over and over again – to retrain your brain to think in a new way.

Dull perhaps, tough certainly, but effective definitely!

And this can take 45 to 60 days.

Agggrrhh! I hear you scream. Ridiculous! You say.

Wait! Let me explain.

Why does it take so long?

Your brain needs to form new neurological paths to ‘reroute’ the stimulus/rewards paths that you want to change (in other words, a ‘when-this-happens-I-usually-do-this’ habit).

For example, if you were treating yourself every Friday night to your favorite greasy fast food over a regular period of time (typically for just a few weeks), your brain will become accustomed to that Friday night ‘fix,’ and you will find yourself craving that food every Friday!

If you then decide to ‘kick the habit’ and eat a healthier option instead, it will typically take at least 60 days for your brain to ‘erase’ the previous path of ‘Friday night = greasy fast food’ and replace it with ‘Friday night = sauna followed by succulent raw curry and raw chocolate,’ or whatever.

3 things you need to do to stop cravings, plus an extra top tip

1) Recognize that your brain is going to be confused

When you start to change these habits, be aware that your brain is going to put up a fight, because it will think its survival is being threatened.

Your brain will be confused for about 45 days, because it was used to getting those happy feelings from other sources, and it will need to relearn the ‘new ways,’ and understand that you will still be alive at the end of it!

2) Be extra kind to yourself

It is crucial to be extra kind to yourself. You are literally rewiring your brain!

It’s like teaching a dog new tricks – yes it can be done, but it takes time, understanding and a gentle approach.

Kicking and screaming won’t make the process go any faster, I’m afraid. You’ll have to punch a pillow instead!

3) Let negative feelings in so that they can go right back out again

Accept any bad feelings that come up, and change your focus.

You could:

  • leave the room
  • go read a book, watch a film, listen to music
  • have other foods on hand that you’ve decided you’re going to eat instead and that still release endorphins
  • go for a walk outside, etc.

Remind yourself that what your body is actually asking for are things like connection, attention, validation and a sense of safety.

I’m not kidding!

Tell it (yourself) that you are fine, that you are in control, that you are safe and that you’re going to give it what it needs – just in a healthier package!

And my top tip: Get yourself a ‘stop the cravings’ buddy!

You could have a buddy to do this experience together, someone who also wants to kick cravings.

Then when one of you is about to reach for that cake, you call the other person!

Reach out to them rather than the food, and you will be amazed at how effective that can be.

If they’re on the same path as you, not only will they not judge you, but they’ll feel good that you called them because it shows you trust them…and therefore they’ll get a nice ‘shot’ of oxytocin, and so will you, because you’ve connected, which is one of the things your body is asking for when it craves something!

Try it and see! And let me know how you get on!

You can find even more tips about how to stop cravings when you’re not hungry here

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