April 20, 2016

Do You Have Food Cravings? - Part 2

Continued from the previous blog,

#7) Nutrient Deficiencies. I sometimes see claims made that when people aren't eating a nutrient-dense diet they may crave more food than they need, the idea being that the body is still trying to get what it needs. There is very little scientific evidence for this, but it's not impossible, and certainly eating a nutrient-dense diet is a good idea.

#8) Menstrual Cycle. It is well documented that for women, the menstrual cycle can affect the desire for different amounts and types of foods.

How to Combat Cravings
The best overall strategy to combat cravings is to construct a set of very clear specific guidelines for your eating based on what you have learned about what triggers your cravings. Examples:
  • "I don't eat sugar."
  • "I don't eat processed grains."
  • "My snacks always include protein and fiber."
It may help you to think of these guidelines as "rules" you follow. Eventually, these rules become "just the way you eat," you don't think about them, and you don't have to exercise "willpower". It may surprise you how quickly this happens.

If you have rules about unhealthy foods you crave but you don't want to eat, it helps some people to "demonize" those foods: think of them in some negative light: "harmful", "poisonous", or even (as I do) "not real food".
(If it seems too onerous to say, "I never eat ___", try including a specific exception. A friend had a rule, "Fridays are Fries Days", which worked for him until he didn't need it any more. Now he hardly ever eats fries.)

So, these are overall strategies. Besides repeating your rules and guidelines, what can you do if you're in the middle of a craving?

20 Methods to Stop Cravings in 5 Minutes or Less
Cravings are mainly happening in your head, whether from habit or from a trigger food. The idea is to get your brain and body onto a totally different track. First, drink a glass of water and take three deep breaths. Then try one of the following. Over time, you'll figure out what types of things work best for you.
1) Go outside: take a quick walk, enjoy the fresh air, sniff the breeze, or pull some weeds.
2) Exercise for 5 minutes: Walk up and down the stairs, stand up from your chair ten times, do jumping jacks, sit ups or push ups.
3) Dance! If you have kids, dance with them, or play tag.
4) Note of Appreciation: Write a quick email or note thanking someone for something he/she has done for you, or what you appreciate about him or her.
5) Say something nice to someone in person!
6) Write down 5 things you're grateful for.
7) Do some stretches, or if you do yoga -- strike a pose you enjoy.
8) Sit, close your eyes, and remember something nice that happened recently, in as much detail as you can.
9) Take a nap - sometimes we reach for food as a pick-me-up, when what we really need is sleep. A 5 to 10 minute power nap can work wonders.
10) Check off something on your to-do list that doesn't take much time. Make the appointment, pay a few bills, clear the trash out of your car, or clean out your purse.
11) Laugh! Read, watch, or listen to something funny.
12) Pray or meditate for a few minutes.
13) Focus on something beautiful: Smell some flowers, look at a favorite painting, watch the sunset, or light a candle and admire its scent and glow.
14) Listen to an uplifting song -- better yet, sing one!
15) Spend 5 minutes de-cluttering.
16) Plan something fun to do with a friend or partner.
17) Drink something warm -- a cup of tea, or bouillon with a little olive oil in it (there is recent research showing that olive oil contains a substance that may suppress appetite).
18) Hug someone, or cuddle with a pet. Physically contact with other living things is de-stressing.
19) Write in your journal. If you don't have one, it's as close as opening a file on your computer.
20) Cut up some vegetables to make prep for the next meal easier.

Of course, make sure you have food in your home that is on your eating plan!

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