Other interventional studies have used mindfulness as a way to mitigate eating out of habit. One of these, a study published in 2010, found that using a self-acceptance-based mindfulness intervention resulted in the regulation of cravings in the overweight and obese population.
Mindfulness takes time, practice, and patience to become effective. Often a craving is actually an attempt to evade a negative emotion by using the ensuing positive reward as a transitory cover-up. Since there is some denial implicit in this process, helping people to identify the negative emotion may not be as easy as it sounds.
Here is where self-acceptance can play a huge role in overcoming cravings. Self-acceptance adds another dimension to mindfulness beyond allowing the emotions to pass. Self-acceptance uses instruction to cast light on the various forces behind cravings (habits, emotions, and complex body and brain chemistry).
Awareness of the root of the problem can take away the guilt often associated with giving in to cravings. Perhaps more importantly, awareness of the factors involved can make it easier for an individual to not take the urge so seriously, to let it pass, and to find ways to take the focus off of it.
Then “I have to eat this!” can change into “There’s that craving again… now I understand where this is coming from.” This is when that seemingly unmanageable impulse can be tamed.
References 1. Meule, A., Westenhofer, J., Kubler, A. (2011). Food cravings mediate the relationship between rigid, but not flexible control of eating behavior and dieting success. Appetite. 57(3): 582-584. 2. Hooper, N., Sandoz, E.K., Ashton, J., Clarke, A., McHugh, L. (2012). Comparing thought suppression and acceptance as coping techniques for food cravings. Eating Behaviors. 13(1): 62-64. 3. Van’t Reit, J., Sijtsema, S.J., Dagevos, H., DeBruijn, G. (2011). The importance of habits in eating behaviour. An overview and recommendations for future research. Appetite. 57(3): 585-596. 4. Alberts, H.J.E.M., Mulkens, S., Smeets, M., Thewissen, R. (2010). Coping with food cravings. Investigating the potential of a mindfulness-based intervention. Appetite. 55(1): 160-163.
Written by: Kristen Carter Originally appeared on: Psychology Today Republished with permission