10 Tips for Managing Food Cravings
How many times has this happened to
you? After a great start at eating healthy in an attempt to take charge of your
weight, you hear the cookies begin to call you from the cupboard. Pretty soon,
half the box is gone and, with it, your latest attempts at weight management.
Many people think that only by avoiding high-fat, high-calorie foods entirely
will they ever be able to lose weight and keep it off. Many weight control programs
today even call these foods "addictive" and recommend we give them
up forever. While you think giving up such foods may help you gain better control
over your eating, the truth is you're actually giving up control. Your cravings
for the foods you love will remain and may even become stronger. To adopt a
healthy eating plan that includes the foods you crave, try these tips:
Eat at least three well-balanced
meals a day. Even if you're trying to lose weight, don't skip meals.
You'll only be hungrier for the next one, and cravings between meals can
Give up guilt. Believing
you have cheated on your diet and completely ruined your chances of succeeding
produces guilt and feelings of failure. Give yourself permission to eat
favorite foods in moderation and without guilt.
Accept food cravings as a normal
part of living in a food-oriented society. Almost everyone experiences
food cravings, regardless of whether they struggle with their weight. The
more you understand your cravings, the better you will be able to manage
them. While you cannot control the fact that cravings occur, you can control
instead of "control." "Control" implies an adversarial
relationship with food; it's generally a constant struggle to maintain control.
"Management" is much easier. When we manage something, we work
with it to achieve our desired results.
Look at cravings as suggestions
to eat, not commands to overindulge. Overeating does not have to be
an automatic response to a craving. When a craving begins, determine how
you want to deal with it. It is truly up to you.
Believe that cravings will
pass. A craving is similar to a wave in the ocean. It grows in intensity,
peaks, and then subsides if you do not give in. Picture yourself as a surfer
who is trying to "ride the wave," instead of being wiped out by
it. The more you practice riding the wave, the easier it will become.
Disarm your cravings with the
5 D's. Delay at least 10 minutes before you eat so that your action
is conscious, not impulsive. Distract yourself by engaging in an activity
that requires concentration. Distance yourself from the food. Determine
how important it really is for you to eat the craved food and how much you
really want it. Decide what amount is reasonable and appropriate, eat it
slowly and enjoy!
Stop labeling foods as "bad,"
"illegal," or "forbidden." It's not the food itself
that's the problem, but the quantities you consume and how often you consume
them. You can eat some of anything you want-even if it is high in fat, calories,
or sugar-but to reach your goals, you may not be able to eat all of everything
Aim for moderation instead
of abstinence. Avoiding things you fear only reinforces the fear. Occasionally
practice enjoying reasonable amounts of favorite high-fat or high-calorie
foods. You may be happier and better able to stay with a well-balanced plan
for healthy living.
- Exercise regularly. Just as it is vital
to successfully managing your weight, exercise is key to managing food cravings.
In addition to burning calories, regular exercise may be relief from tension
due to anxieties about food cravings. It's also one way to delay, distance,
and distract yourself from food.
copyright 1986 Green Mountain at Fox Run, a women's retreat for healthy living
without dieting, www.fitwoman.com