Managing food cravings can be a real struggle for many folks. Two main reasons I see people having pitfalls when it comes to healthy intake:
1) Unplanned Nutrition
I have a common discussion with patients, clients, and students that focus on you choosing your food and prevent foods from choosing you. What do I mean? If you have a plan for consistent intake throughout the day, snacks and drinks included, then it is easier to stay on point and avoid those cravings. Consider this as an attempt at preemptive strike! When you go into a location to eat or bombarded by not so healthy options in the lounge, break room etc., your plan or management for eating well could prevent a slip up with your nutrition.
A surprise attack that is launched in order to prevent the enemy from doing it to you. http://www.dictionary.com
Ponder this: You had a rough day yesterday and skipped breakfast for whatever reason this morning. You went to grab that desperately needed coffee/tea/drink from the break room or c-store, and the golden overhead lights shine directly on the glowing chocolate filled, topped, dipped, dunked or drowned fried dough! What do you do? We can all guess the end of this scenario; you had the Grande Triple Chocolate Dessert disguised as breakfast. Do not get me wrong, sugary chocolate treats are fun and exciting on occasion. However, why did you choose this chocolate breakfast today? Did you let the food choose you? This is a way for you to analysis foods you choose and create strategies for success for the future.
When we become stressed in our day-to-day events, additional cortisol (the fight or flight hormone) can be released into the blood stream. With the increase of cortisol in the blood, your appetite can increase also. I describe it in this way: With the increased stress, people often crave carbohydrates, candy, and booze. Now please know that I say this somewhat jokingly. You may not crave candy or alcohol, but may actually be in the form of French fries, or milkshakes, triple serving of mac and cheese or the family size bag of chips.
Ask yourself one or two questions when grabbing foods that are not typical. Here are suggestions:
- Why do I want this?
- Are you hungry or stressed?
- How will this help me?
- Does it have nutritional value or is it just there to comfort my stress levels?
- Is this the right portion for me?
- Am I overdoing it due to lack of planning, skipped meals or stress?
- Is my choice at this moment going to make me feel better or worse later?
Tips for Cravings
- Cravings are suggestions, NOT COMMANDS!
- Balanced meals throughout the day can improve hunger and may decrease stress eating
- Cravings will pass, may not be true hunger, and could be thirst. (Are you hydrated?)
Disarm your cravings with the 5 Ds:
- Delay—wait 10 minutes
- Distract—concentrate on something else
- Distance—do not keep temptation on hand; make yourself leave your environment to get the food
- Determine—think about how much you really want it
- Decide—know how much to eat; if you choose to eat something you crave, remember to enjoy it
Hospitality Dietitian: Mindy Diller, MS, RDN, LD : firstname.lastname@example.org