Category Archives: Killing Cravings and Urges to Eat

How do You Kill a Craving?

I’m the psychotherapist who discovered Therapeutic Psychogenics, a remarkable method to permanently lose weight,  when I solved my own 320 lb. weight problem over 25 years ago. I lost 140 lbs. for good after 25 years of obesity and failure with diets and exercise schemes. Now I teach The Anderson Method (www.TheAndersonMethod.com) to clients and other therapists, and I’ve helped thousands to solve their weight problem. Many clients have asked me “when did you stop having cravings and urges?” They think that because I have maintained my 140 lb. weight loss for 26 years, I must have found a way to eliminate the urges to eat.

Not so. What’s happened is that my response to urges and cravings, one of the techniques of Therapeutic Psychogenics, has become habitual, second nature. Now it is my habit to think in ways that reduce and kill cravings and urges. That’s one of the objectives of The Anderson Method. It has become so ingrained to think and act in ways to stay successful that it’s almost become easy. I’d say easy, but there is definitely a lot of work to be done to make success ”easy”, and there will always be work to stay successful. However, like a job with huge rewards, it’s worth it. It’s even become fun, like a game I play and win at every day.

First, understand that for this method to work, all the pieces of the puzzle must be in place. Like a car made of many parts, you need all the parts in place for it to work. Leave out pieces like a wheel or a battery, and you’ll get nowhere. When you engage in the training that my book talks about, you’ll have put many important pieces in place before you would use the technique I’m going to describe. By itself, this technique has only a fraction of the power it has as a part of the whole. By itself, it will not cause you to lose weight. It will help, but there are other things you must be doing.

When you read about my method, you’ll learn that I have a “safe house” with none of the addictive snack or trigger foods that would call my name. Also, I have an effective plan every morning of what to eat that day, and a routine that I have thought about in the morning that accommodates my need for a satisfying eating experience, that provides pleasurable eating at my most vulnerable times. These are some of the techniques that are in place because of the method, that have become habitual,  just the way that I live today.

Now, when an urge pops up, I talk to myself, out loud if I’m alone, or in my head if I’m with people. I’ll say “Stop! that’s not in the plan. That would be overeating.  It would cause tight clothes and reflux that I hate. I don’t want that. I’m fasting until the omelette (or whatever your next meal is). I’m fasting, burning fat and losing weight, my clothes getting looser, moving toward my goal weight. If I give in to the urge, I’ll miss out on the good things that are happening. I’m going to hold off and keep burning fat.”

This “self-talk” is actually an application of several very sophisticated  cognitive, cybernetic and self-hypnotic psychotherapeutic techniques.  It seems childishly simple, but it’s actually state-of-the-art psychotherapy.

Every time I beat an urge, I congratulate myself. I realize that in the old days, I’d already have eaten the thing by the time I realize I passed on it. If I had let myself think about eating it for even a moment, instead of saying “Stop…”, I would have added another glob of fat to my stores, and have made things worse. So, I’m very happy that I beat the urge, that I’m still burning fat, and I dream about continuing to lose weight and enjoying all the things that the weight loss will bring, like looser clothes, being more active, being happier, etc.

This entire pattern of thinking and acting is a very carefully constructed pattern of behavior that kills cravings and creates motivation and drive to behave in ways that causes success. It may seem like child’s play, but it is actually time-tested powerful psychotherapy.

I also use “covert sensitization”, an aversive technique related to the self-talk where I associate the overeating with the negative properties of tight clothes, reflux or stretch marks, etc.  If I was tempted by a Big Mac for instance, instead of linking it with kids having fun, I’ll remember the workers in the back of the place spitting and piling snot on the burgers before they put the bun on top. Associating something negative or disgusting can kill the craving just enough to get by it and continue on your path to loose clothes and the next healthy meal you’ve planned on. And that’s all you need to succeed, success right now. It can become a habit, and when it does, your success is permanent.

You may need to do it again in five minutes, but the more you do it, the more it becomes your habitual way of thinking and acting, and with the rest of the pieces of The Anderson Method in place, it’s even fun, much more enjoyable that the old way. The food tastes better, no guilt, you feel better about yourself, and you enjoy all the benefits of success that you’ve been dreaming about.

For more information about my method and my book, go to www.TheAndersonMethod.com