Dealing with Cravings (A&I Challenge Week 4 May)
Thursday, May 24, 2012
My assignment: “How do you say NO to that Craving? Share the strategies and techniques you use to overcome cravings.”
The short answer for me is: “This too shall pass.” If I could remember that, I think I’d 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 “This too shall pass” strategy, because by the time I’ve finished the drink, I’m usually past the worst of the craving. If I’ve had a glass of water or cup of tea and I’m still craving something, I might try to set a time limit, after which I’ll try to further assess why I’m having that craving if I still have it. In the mean time, I’ll 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 that’s sometimes underlying my cravings.So it’s 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 it’s 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 don’t go to the snack machine or cafeteria at work, I don’t get tempted to think of things I’d otherwise not even dream about. If I don’t buy certain types of food at the store or have them in my house, I can’t 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 I’ll 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 I’m hungry (meal & snack planning) so I’m not making these decisions while I’m not thinking rationally. And second, exercising or otherwise distracting myself long enough for a craving to pass.