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Food Rehab: Dealing with the Urges

Monday, July 08, 2013

This blog post couldn't have come at a better time. This entire weekend, I felt like I was fighting against my urges for fatty, unhealthy foods. The farmer's market, while laden with amazing veggies (and trust me, I stocked up!), was also filled with the aromas of macrons and jellies and biscotti and breads and popcorn and hot dogs and all sorts of yummy foods that are most definitely off plan. The harder part is that I now live with my sister, who can eat all of those foods. So running away from temptation was incredibly hard.

Shout-out, however, to my sister who, while being an incredible temptation, was ALSO my biggest supporter by telling me things like, "That food is not going to make you happy" and "You have come so far!" Talk about amazing, huh?

Last year, if I would have gone to the farmer's market, it would have gotten ugly. I have no doubt that I would have spent a good portion of Saturday afternoon sick to my stomach, overfilled with goodies from the morning's activities. And not only physically sick, but mentally. I would be laden with guilt over my eating, I would be mentally bashing myself for not making healthier food choices.

The problem is, when I was faced with foods I wanted, I never said, "No". The answer was always, "YES!" Even in the times that I waffled, the answer almost always became "YES" - or if not "YES", then I picked out something "healthier", which was probably already as unhealthy as the item I first wanted.

Kessler talks about a few ways you can tell your trigger foods "NO!" and stick to your food plan. And a few of these actually did help me say "NO" over the weekend.

1. One way Kessler recommends to avoid the urges is very simple to stop thinking about it. Tell yourself, "I'm not having it and I'm not thinking about it anymore." It can be rather shocking at how well this works. If I give myself any leeway, then I will debate internally, but if I tell myself "NO" and refuse to listen to my internal arguments, the desire fades.

2. A GREAT way I've found to combat the urges is to make my favorite, unhealthy foods look bad. Instead of a thick, juicy burger topped with melty cheese, it's now a greasy, lopsided burger with a soggy bun and slippery, fake American cheese. It's INCREDIBLE how I now don't want ANYTHING to do with the burger now!

3. Another great way to combat my urges is to talk them down. This is what my sister was helping me with, and it works really well. Basically, you give your body reasons why you should avoid the food that is tempting you - kinda the opposite of Number 1. The internal conversation looks like this:

"Mmmm, that cupcake looks so good!"

"Yes, it does, but it's full of fat and sugar."

"But it will make you feel good if you eat it!"

"It will make me feel good the moment I eat it. But when I am done, I will feel guilty and yucky and ashamed. Plus, I have come so far, lost so much weight. Eating that cupcake could lead me to eating more and going back on all that I've worked hard for. And my health means more than having a cupcake."


I CAN control my urges. I don't HAVE to eat anything that is in front of me, and I don't need to eat it to "feel good". I can feel good withOUT food! I have had so much fun enjoying my life - biking for charity, exercising, prepping to run, etc. - that I don't NEED food to make me happy!

What methods work best for you when you need to say, "No"?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Another great blog, thanks for sharing. When I go farmers market with my family if there are treats that are calling my name there are a few different things I do.

    1. I will get a drink while my family eats french pastries.

    2. The gelato stand gives out samples which consist of about 2 tbsp of gelato. My family orders full sizes and I get a sample. I get weird looks but I don't care because sometimes it's okay to have a treat in moderation.

    3. Go the fruit and veggie section and get something to eat while you are in the market. Raspberries, apples, cherry tomatoes...whatever you love.

    4. Never shop hungry!!! We will want to eat everything in site especially at the farmers market when there are so many treats and temptations

    It's nice to know we are not alone in our struggles. Keep up the good work.
    1690 days ago
    You've made some great points here! I really like how you are able to combat those urges. I tend to tell myself two things that help when I've got an urge for something not so good for me.

    1. This food is going to make me feel terrible if I eat it. In contrast to your point about the mental repercussions, I think of this as a physical repercussion of eating the food. Most greasy and/or high sugar foods actually make me feel uncomfortable and kind of gross in my stomach afterwards. We are what we eat I guess! For example, that burger you described is full of fat and calories and it's pretty harsh on the digestive system compared to a more balanced meal. Of course, this logic really only works for an actual meal as a cookie or something isn't going to have a big impact on how you are physically feeling.

    2. Since I've been nutrition tracking, I think of my calorie range like a budget. My husband has started doing this too and it's actually pretty funny. I think to myself, I have X amount of calories to eat in my day and that cookie is just too expensive. If I eat it, I am going to have to have a lighter dinner or fewer snacks later in order to stay within my calorie budget. Recently, this has been the logic that wins out. If I'm prepared to fit that unhealthy item into my day (say it is night time and I still have some budget left) then great, but if having it means that I'm going to have to eat something I won't find as appealing for dinner, then it hardly seems worth it for that brief bit of satisfaction.

    1690 days ago
    Thank you and as always great blog! emoticon emoticon
    1691 days ago
    GREAT JOB, You are doing it!.

    ENGAGING YOUR MIND, it is a powerful tool.

    Step back and think of the consequences, the choices and the opportunity to change your mind.
    Urge it to better choices, that will bring you contentment.
    You did it for you and your healthy journey.

    It feels good to be in CHARGE. emoticon ~~~Pat.
    1691 days ago
  • WILDKAT781
    awesome blog - great info to know and a big congrats for staying away from the not so healthy choices!!!
    1691 days ago
    I try to always have something else in mind as a substitute.

    When there are donuts in the office, I've got my favorite fresh fruit.
    When we stop at a coffee shop. I get iced Americano with an extra shot of espresso and drink it black.
    When there's "nothing" in the house for dinner, I can whip up a little veggie omelette and jazz it up with salsa.
    Instead of a calorie-laden dessert, plain yogurt with berries.
    Instead of chips, air-popped popcorn.
    Instead of snacking, take a walk!

    In desperate moments, I have an extra glass of ice water to buy time while my head struggles with, "Do I really need that?"

    It's not a perfect solution, but most of the time it works.

    1691 days ago
    This post was great! In my case, it's not that hard to say "no" to other people, but only because I've already laid down the groundwork. For example, and this just happened like an hour ago or so: a colleague knocked on my office door and came in with a box of donuts, said "hey, I brought these for everyone, want one?". I said "no thanks, I'm on a diet" -if I say "lifestyle change", people freak out. And he said "oh right, sorry!", and I said "nah don't worry". It wasn't hard saying no because I didn't even think about it, it just came out of me, automatically. And the groundwork I was referring to was, a few months ago, I stood in the middle of the office and said "attention everyone please! I have an announcement to make, I will be going on a diet next week, so if any of you try to offer me junk food, I'll respectfully decline". They all laughed with me and said fine, but the idea was to let them know, let everyone I work with every day, know, that I would be on a diet. That's kind of forcing myself a bit to stay on course. If, a couple of weeks after that, I would have stopped, they would have noticed, and called me on it. I did this with every group I spend time with. And it has worked really well for me.

    Also, I think that #2 is an awesome way to do it -I do something similar sometimes, the other day I was watching this show on TV called "Eat St.", and they showed deep fried brownies & deep fried muffins. I couldn't help but picture the ingredients next to the finished product. So the people on the show weren't eating a deep fried muffin in my head, they were actually eating vegetable oil, flour, sugar, butter, more oil, more sugar, and then some more oil. That made it pretty easy for me to go "ewww" when they were all going "yum".

    Thank you for this post!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1691 days ago
    I have to say that I am a lot like ICEDEMETER, in that I am thrifty. You get a lot more,volume wise, of veggies or fruit for the amount it cost for cupcakes. So, honestly, if it would be cheaper to go home and make cupcakes, I certainly won't buy one( that goes for any cup of expensive coffee as well). By the time I get home from an outing -I'm just too lazy to fix something like that. Desserts are always the last thing I make for a dinner, unless it's a B'day. Besides, fruit will be just as satisfying to my family-especially if I come home with a watermelon!
    Both of my parents have a predisposition for either diabetes or hypertention- both have worked very hard, and I am very proud of them, to lose weight, and now have these conditions under control. I plan to never get either of these conditions- that is some heavy motivation. As well as having teenagers, and wanting them to learn now how to live a healthy lifestyle.
    Your sister knows where You've been, bless her for understanding, and helping You remember how far You have come.
    Continued SUCCESS!
    1691 days ago
    I struggle with this a lot. I'm good at telling myself "next time." Next time we come to the farmer's market, I'll have a cupcake. I'm not going to have gelato after the gym tonight, we can have gelato on Friday.

    I'm also pretty famous for having conversations (silently) with myself about things. "If you don't go for that run tonight, when WILL you? Yeah, that's what I thought. You're going." or "Really? Chips? Why when you're doing so well?" Or "Do you REALLY want indigestion? Because that's what you're going to get if you eat that!" Or "You can't have McD's for lunch, you have to run tonight and remember how tired and sluggish you were last time you tried to run on McD's???"
    1691 days ago
    I've found that the best internal argument that I have is to use an analogy someone posts on the message boards (I'm ashamed to say I can't remember exactly who right now, so sorry about not attributing it!), and that is to consider my food intake to be on as much of a budget as my spending.

    First consideration is always nutrition, so if I haven't met my nutritional needs for the day, then anything else is off the table, and I don't even think about it. For me, that would be like buying clothes I don't need when the mortgage isn't paid yet (ie. unthinkable!).

    If the necessities are covered, and I have enough "banked" for a treat, then I always look for the best that I can afford. For me, "best" is something that has a flavour and texture that I absolutely love. I have discovered that there are very, very few "bought" things that come up to the level that I can make myself. Considering that I'm just starting to learn to cook, this is a pretty amazing statement! Just like in my monetary budget, I don't have room for all of the "treats" that I might want, so I get very picky about what I do get, and am content to get portions that fit in to my "budget".

    It becomes really easy to say NO to a cupcake, when I can see a zucchini over there which I know I can make in to an absolutely incredible chocolate muffin (and use the rest to replace some pasta, or add to a salad, or include in a stir-fry). Greasy burger? Hmmm, if I take those apples that I see on the next table, and add them and some oatmeal to some freshly ground sirloin, then I can make a meatloaf that'll taste much better. Freshly baked breads (ok, these are a tough one)? If I just buy a single roll instead of a whole loaf of bread, then I can absolutely enjoy it as part of my dinner and won't need to worry about wasting the rest.

    Whether it's money or calories, I am personally much too "thrifty" (I'll be nice to myself here!) to have much difficulty convincing myself that something totally frivolous is not a worthy option compared to something that has all of the good points of the frivolous item (tasty satisfaction) but also has a practical, nutritional bang for the buck.

    Thanks so much for sharing your journey here! You always give me reason to ponder my own journey, and give me so much more understanding of where others may be coming from.

    emoticon Keep rockin' it!
    1691 days ago
    Thank you for sharing. I had a tough 4th of July combating all of my food enemies. I am back to my normal routine again, and feel so much better now. I like tip #1. I am horrible at having those self conflicting arguments with myself. I am going to use this one next time I'm faced with this delimma. Take care!
    1691 days ago
    Thank you so much for your post!!! You are relaying so much valuable advice.
    One technique I have used is to say "maybe later" and put it out of my mind. However, this can't be as effective as saying "no" and moving on.
    You are so right about the food tasting good at the time, but the guilt and regrets after. "A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips."
    1691 days ago
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