The “See-Food Diet”


For weeks I’ve had a book sitting on my desk with a picture of a carrot and a piece of carrot cake on the cover.  Can you guess which picture catches my eye the most?  For weeks the thought “man, I want carrot cake,” has been popping into my head.  Food exposure is a major cravings-trigger for so many people, me included.  When someone mentions food exposure, most people probably think of seeing or smelling actual food, however I also think food exposure includes:

  • looking at pictures of food in magazines
  • seeing advertisements for food on TV
  • watching food related TV shows
  • hearing other people talk about food
  • personally thinking about food

None of these above involve a piece of carrot cake sitting in front of me, but I can promise you if I look at a photo of cake long enough, I’m going to crave it.  Oddly enough, I have not had any carrot cake lately, despite the fact that I’ve been craving it from time to time.  What helps me manage food exposure cravings?  Here’s what works for me:

  • Just knowing where the craving is coming from puts me in control of the situation.  To be able to say, “eh, you just want cake because you saw a picture of it, not because you are hungry,” for some reason, makes it much easier to let it go.
  • Staying well fed through out the day so hunger is not mixed with food exposure.
  • Making sure to eat foods I really like so deprivation is not mixed with food exposure.
  • Flipping the book over so I don’t see the picture of the cake.  Get rid of the trigger (if possible) once you identify what it is.  This may involve:
    • using separate cabinets for snacks foods
    • keeping certain items in opaque containers so you don’t constantly see them
    • making certain foods (like cake) in single servings and freezing them versus having an entire cake hanging out on a kitchen counter for a week
    • not watching food related TV shows too often
    • changing driving routes to avoid seeing certain restaurants, bakeries, etc…
    • coming up with ideas for socializing with others that doesn’t always involve food
    • eating in only 1 spot, as we like to do at our healthy retreat (that many people think of as a weight loss spa) by keeping all food in our Green Mountain at Fox Run dining room

In what ways is food exposure a challenge for you?  What helps you manage food exposure based cravings?

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