Chocolate craving? Here’s how to handle it.
Food cravings are an inevitable challenge of weight loss and beyond. Learning how to outsmart your food cravings can go a long way in ensuring your weight loss success.
1. Delay. You can decide to put off acting on a craving urge for a specified amount of time. Start with 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes you might decide to go ahead an act on the urge, wait another 10 minutes for it to leave, or realize that you are no longer craving the food all together. Delaying allows you take control of the situation; you get to decide whether or not you want act on your craving or not. Delaying buys you time to think about the options, to learn why you are craving a particular food, and to determine what the best response is. Delaying is a particularly effect tactic when cravings are related to still feeling hungry after a meal. Busy lifestyles and allowing ourselves to get overly hungry in between meals are two reasons why we may eat quickly. Eat too quickly, and you’re not allowing your body to register that food has been consumed. This can lead to hunger-driven cravings. Delay a second helping by 10 minutes and then reevaluate your hunger level.
2. Break the Habit. We are creatures of habit. We tend to engage in the same daily activities and patterns because they are familiar to us. We also associate particular activities with food. Watching your favorite evening television show may not feel complete without a bowl of snacks in hand. Incorporating breakfast may be a challenge if you’re used to waking up 15 minutes before having to leave for work. In order to see change, you have to make change. Think about the times that you eat during the day. How are they associated with your lifestyle and routine? How will they be affected by
following your meal plan? By planning in advance, you can anticipate cravings that arise from habit.
3. Have a Back Up Plan. Once you’ve identified times in your day that you’re more likely to experience cravings, plan for how you will deal with those feelings when they hit. Arrange your meal plan around craving times so that you can enjoy a meal or snack and stay on track. This is particularly
helpful for social events that involve food. It can be awkward to say “no” when everyone else is eating. Yet, by planning to have a snack at the same time, you’ll feel part of the group, even if you’re eating something different.
Heather Petraszko, MS, RD