Tips on dealing with those pesky food cravings

Published 11:22 pm Saturday, January 22, 2011

We all have them. Do you ever think, “I know that I’m full, but I still want something to eat?” That’s the moment food cravings kick into action and you begin the search for something sweet, or maybe something crunchy.

We all have cravings. Sometimes the craving will be for a certain taste –sweet, salty; other times it will be for a certain texture – crunchy, smooth. Although sugar and salt have their health risks, craving fatty foods can lead to greater health risk – such as weight gain which is linked to many health problems. Research suggests that a preference for high-fat foods is developed when infants and young children learn to link fatty foods with the comforting luxury of over indulgence. The allure of high-fat foods comes from the enhanced flavor that fats give to foods. Think about the smooth, creamy texture of ice cream and peanut butter; the flaky, tender pastry or brownie that melts in your mouth or the juicy steak or burger. Studies show on-again, off-again dieting may step up a fat craving. Those cravings become a double jeopardy when they are rewarded with the sweet and fat laden ingredients of rich desserts. Additionally, many high-fat snacks are heavily seasoned with salt.

No matter what the reason for these cravings, you can overcome, or manage your cravings

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Eat at least three well-balanced meals a day. Even if you’re trying to lose weight, don’t skip meals. You’ll be hungrier for the next one and cravings between meals can become overwhelming.

Accept food cravings as a normal part of living in a food-oriented society. 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 you reaction.

Think “management” 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.

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. However, to reach your goals, you may not be able to eat all of everything you want.

Disarm your cravings with the 5 Ds. 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!