A craving is like an itch that we can’t stop ourselves from scratching, even though we know we shouldn’t. When we feel compelled to do something – eat a chocolate bar, smoke a cigarette, have a gin and tonic – even though we know it might not be healthy or productive, then we are suffering from cravings. Not as severe as an addiction, but still something we would like to try and avoid.
The first step to help us deal with cravings is to try and understand ourselves and what might be going on underneath the surface. What is happening psychologically or physically that is causing us to crave that piece of cake?
Second, it is important to realise that there is both an emotional or psychological trigger and a physical trigger to cravings. For example, you have had a stressful day at work (emotional) so when you get home you pour yourself a gin and tonic. However, you always crave a cigarette when you pour yourself a gin and tonic. The physical aspect of pouring the drink triggers the craving. Sometimes by just changing your physical trigger you can stop the craving.
You might find it helpful to seek the help of your GP or a trained counsellor or psychotherapist if you are suffering with cravings.
Helpful tips when dealing with a craving:
- Try and eat a balanced diet
- Get plenty of rest
- Distract yourself
- Replace the craving with something else
- Reduce the availability of the thing you crave – don’t buy sugary snacks, a pack of cigarettes, your favourite bottle of wine
- Set a long term reduction plan
- Sometimes the best thing to do is just stop. But you need to recognise that you might fall off the wagon at times. Forgive yourself and try again.
Charities & Support Groups
National charities and support groups for this issue:
Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities
We provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.
Helpline: 0300 330 0659
Action on Addiction works to find ever more effective ways of disarming addiction in individuals, families, communities and society as a whole.
Parents Helpline 0808 802 5544 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm
Charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.