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:
1. 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 become overwhelming.
2. 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.
3. 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 you reaction.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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
8. 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 you want.
9. 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.
10. 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.