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Stop cravings with mindfulness


Young woman during yoga meditation on the beach

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When you crave something, you can’t think of anything else. Cravings are defined as an intense desire to want something such a something to eat or to consume something like drugs.

There is a large body of evidence that supports the fact the cravings are linked to behaviour.

And with that comes the assumption that if cravings can be controlled then it will impact related behaviour such as relapse episodes in substance abuse and weight gain and eating in food cravings.

According to ancient Buddhists texts, cravings lead to suffering and mindfulness meditation can help avoid cravings.

More recently, mindfulness-based interventions have been used to target cravings with the aim of bringing clinically relevant change in behaviour.

Mindfulness interventions can come in many forms- such as exercises designed to make people aware of their bodily sensations, to be aware of their thoughts and practice acceptance towards uncomfortable feelings or to help individuals see themselves separate from their emotions and feelings.

Due to the varied nature of these interventions, there is a limited understanding of the effect of mindfulness on cravings and different types of strategies may influence outcomes, independently or collectively.

To tackle these limitations, researchers from City, University of London reviewed 30 studies which examined the independent effect of mindfulness on craving.

By analysing the studies, researchers found that the beneficial effect of mindfulness strategies on cravings are likely to result from the interruption of cravings by loading working memory – a part of our short-term memory responsible for immediate conscious perceptual and linguistic processing.

It was also seen that mindfulness reduced cravings over the medium term due to the “extinction process” that results from the individual inhibiting the craving-related behaviour.

The researchers conclude that some mindfulness strategies may help prevent or interrupt cravings by occupying that part of our mind that effectuates the development of cravings.

However, this research does not tell us if other interventions such as visual imagery are more effective than mindfulness strategies in addressing cravings.

However, the evidence does suggest that engaging in mindfulness practice does help people to stop reacting to their cravings to an extent.

Source: Clinical Psychology Review



 

Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!