What I Did When All I Wanted Was Chinese Food…

Cravings. Yes. Those nasty thoughts that enter our minds and say, "hey… remember that awesome tasting thing you had that one time? Let's get it again!"

I had them, I'm not going to lie. It wasn't always a perfect day and during the first month or so of my initial change over to a completely raw vegan lifestyle, there were many times where I would get a random thought of some food that I promised I would never eat again. Before I made my new lifestyle commitment, I used so many excuses to appease my cravings when I was "on a diet" or trying to make changes.

"Anything in moderation right? Might as well, it's been a while since I've had this anyways!"

"You've been so good lately, you can enjoy it! Go for it - you deserve it!"

"But Mom made this dish for me that I used to love when I was a child, even though I told her already that I don't eat that."

"If I eat this now, I will make sure I am extra good tomorrow." (This one was funny because I would use the same excuses the next day for something totally different.)

"Only a bite!"

There were others too. Many others. Cravings are heavy and my willpower wasn't strong enough to tell me no. One night it was extra late and I was laying in bed answering a few emails when it hit me. Chinese food. That was my downfall, my desire most days and I was quite addicted. To others it might be ice cream, or cakes, or their mothers meatloaf. To me it was mainly chinese food and chips. So because I couldn't actually go and get food to appease my craving, I remember reading somewhere about a group that was studied and told to imagine eating what they were craving so I thought I would try it - Couldn't hurt anyways, I wasn't going anywhere and the craving was strong.

The key to doing this is you need to get detailed. Seriously detailed.

Imagine yourself deciding to get into the car and drive to your favourite restaurant. Put on your jacket, grab your keys and wallet and even brush the snow off your windshield and get in your car if you have to! Drive to your food service location of choice. Park. Get out and enter. Stand in like or wait for a table. Check out the menu and look/remember all of the things on there that you might want to have. If it's buffet style, smell the smells of the foods, look at the colours, check out what options they put out that day. When you are ready, order your meal. Say it out loud if you have to. The server brings/serves your order and hands you the plate or tray and you pay for your meal. Grab the tray and walk over to a random table, maybe one that you sit at all the time. Start eating! I mean… REALLY imagine eating this. This is the most effective part. Take a bite. Feel the textures, the smells, the taste, imagine it all in as much detail as you possibly can, and eat all of it.

Now if you can get through your meal, you are one of the few. That night, I fell asleep after two bites. I did this again a few days later for a hamburger and fries and was sitting on the couch imagining when after three bites and some fries I was thinking of the photo session that I had to get to editing (I am a photographer), and then I was thinking of that I needed to clean the kitchen and oh yeah, it was garbage day and had to take those bags out. Reminding me that I had to also get cat food and go out which made me think of being outside, and summertime. Then I was thinking of one time when we went to a lake front city for holidays. That was awesome. Where was that necklace that I bought when I was there? I should look for it! It might be in that drawer in my bedroom with the fake engagement ring that I bought for my next trip to the ocean because I didn't want to take my real one…. You get it right?

Your brain will be happy with those few bites in your mind and move onto other things, making you even forget why you were sitting there meditating in the first place. Your mind is appeased by that in nearly all craving instances and after I did this quite a few times, I realized that my cravings were all in my head! I did this every time I smelled something I used to love or want. I did it when I was driving and wanted a coffee or energy drink. I did it when I was watching movies sometimes and wanted chips. Eventually I stopped because my body was used to not being out of balance. I really haven't used this technique in the last few months.

It's freeing. Now I know what you might be asking. Isn't thinking about the food you are craving bad? Isn't it going to make me want to eat it more?

That's what I thought, but it didn't. I noticed that half the time I craved, I actually wasn't hungry at all. Totally psychological. I noticed that if I kept myself filled with healthy calories from fruit and vegetables on my raw diet, that I had less and less cravings. If I had a craving that came along with hunger, I would still imagine, and then eat fruit right after. A few bananas, maybe a spinach smoothie. It's not a bad thing to let your mind imagine! Kids do it. Why is it bad for us? Maybe the fact that I kept suppressing my desire to eat those foods in my mind, it was harder and harder for me to say no in real life because I wasn't giving my brain what it wanted, real or not. I was calmer after imagining, and in every case, the craving went away for me. It's similar to distracting yourself if you have a craving in a way, as cravings only last so long until you move onto something else.

The benefits to this are pretty interesting. This is what I noticed:

  • I enjoyed the BEST of whatever I was imagining. You will imagine the best you ever had, and I was never disappointed!
  • I wasn't spending money that I didn't need to spend on whatever I wanted
  • I wasn't eating unnecessary calories that I really didn't need at all
  • If my craving involved an animal product, I wasn't contributing to the slaughter of innocents or damaging the environment
  • My body was thanking me in the long run by losing weight, feeling light, and more energy
  • I didn't feel like crap after. You know what I mean ;)
  • I didn't feel guilty for falling off the wagon or feel sad that I "failed myself"

Why not let your mind have what it wants instead of actually eating it? I feel free now. I feel happy and I crave nothing as long as I eat lots of fresh, healthy, beautiful fruits and vegetables. To me, this really works, and hopefully it can help you in your journey to health!

Much love, Lissa xo

P.S. After I wrote this article, I sat to imagine my old food passion of chinese. I found it interesting that I could barely remember what those fat noodles I used to die for tasted like. Craziness! Our brains are seriously incredibly mysterious.