Dealing with Cravings (A&I Challenge Week 4 May)
Thursday, May 24, 2012
My assignment: ďHow do you say NO to that Craving? Share the strategies and techniques you use to overcome cravings.Ē
The short answer for me is: ďThis too shall pass.Ē If I could remember that, I think Iíd be within my calorie range all the days that I wanted to.
Generally, my go-to strategy is to drink water or herb tea. That pretty much accomplishes the ďThis too shall passĒ strategy, because by the time Iíve finished the drink, Iím usually past the worst of the craving. If Iíve had a glass of water or cup of tea and Iím still craving something, I might try to set a time limit, after which Iíll try to further assess why Iím having that craving if I still have it. In the mean time, Iíll do a puzzle or read an article totally unrelated. Sometimes the reassessment leads to eating something healthy in a limited amount (1 T granola or yogurt, for instance). That rarely happens, though.
I also need to distract myself if--by that I mean when-- I find myself obsessed--uh, I mean focused--on food. I will day-dream about all sorts of food that does not provide the fuel I need for optimum health. I think food also serves as enjoyment, but like anything I need to find balance: not too much but not too little.
One strategy I find particularly effective is to exercise. Exercising itself has a biological effect of reducing my appetite in the short-term, it mentally distracts me, and I get an emotional boost thatís sometimes underlying my cravings.So itís ideal for me, but not always practical.
Even though I usually want to eat and get cravings when I'm not truly hungry, I also need to keep from getting over-hungry which also leads to cravings. On the other hand, I do know I enjoy my food more when I am truly hungry and not just eating because the clock says itís time to eat, so when I think of that I can usually put a craving away.
I almost always eat food I have prepared myself. I think this avoids giving in to cravings. If I donít go to the snack machine or cafeteria at work, I donít get tempted to think of things Iíd otherwise not even dream about. If I donít buy certain types of food at the store or have them in my house, I canít give in to those cravings without some effort to actually go out & get the food.
At a restaurant, I have to have made up my mind before I get there or Iíll just eat anything. Most places have online menus now which makes it so much easier to consider options before presented with the strong temptations of seeing food of other diners or hearing what dining companions have ordered.
So mostly it comes down to two things. First, making decisions about what I will eat before Iím hungry (meal & snack planning) so Iím not making these decisions while Iím not thinking rationally. And second, exercising or otherwise distracting myself long enough for a craving to pass.