Most women who participate in the healthy weight management program at Green Mountain at Fox Run, confess they struggle with managing food cravings.
When you’re in the midst of a food craving cycle, the idea of creating a healthy eating plan seems more like someone taking away your emotional blankie than a good idea. “What about my ice cream, potato chips, pasta, chocolate…(fill in the blank)..?”
To help you adopt a healthy eating plan that includes the foods you crave, try these 10 Green Mountain Tips:
1. 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.
2. Eat at least three well-balanced meals a day. Don’t skip meals! You’ll only be hungrier for the next one. It’s a normal physiological reaction to crave food if you’re hungry.
3. Give up guilt. One brownie never made anyone fat, but your attitude about eating brownies or any foods you consider forbidden can make you fat. Believing you have ‘cheated’ on your diet, and therefore having ruined your chances of success, will produce feelings of failure and guilt. Allow yourself your favorite foods in moderation, without guilt.
4. 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 cravings, the more manageable they become. Food cravings can be caused by physical cues and emotional cues. Although you cannot necessarily emliminate all cravings, you can manage your reation.
5. Look at cravings as suggestions to eat, not commands to overindulge. Overeating does not have to be an automatic response to craving. Take charge. When a craving begins, determine how you want to deal with it.
6. Believe that cravings will pass. Researchers have found that people believe a craving will continue to intensifiy until they give into it. In truth, a craving is similar to a wave in the ocean. It grows in intensity, peaks and then subsides if you don’t give into 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 10-15 mintues before you eat.
- Distract – yourself by engaging in an activity that requires concentration and is not compatible with eating.
- Distance – yourself from food – leave the room, ask the waiter to remove your plate, take steps (literally) to get yourself in a non-food environment
- Determine – how important it is to eat the craved food and how much you really want it.
- Decide - what amount is reasonable and appropriate to start with. Eat it mindfully and enjoy!
8. Stop labeling foods as ‘bad’, ‘illegal’ or ‘forbidden. It’s not the food. It’s the manner i which you may consume it and how often you consume it. You can eat some of anything you want – even if it is high in fat, calories, sugar or salt – but if you want to reach your healthy fitness goals, you may not be able to eat all of what you think you want
9. Aim for moderation instead of abstinence. Avoiding things you fear only reinforce your fear. If you think you can never eat certain foods again, you may feel driven to eat as much as you can whenever you can. Explore what you really want. Is it really food? Or do you want well-being too.
10. Exercise regularly. Exercise is the key to managing food cravings. Rather than burn calories, one of the most important contributions of regular exercise is a relief from tension and stress. It is also a very healthy way to delay, distract and distance yourself from food.