If you’re trying to lose weight, you definitely want to read this!
Are you a “sweet” kind of person?
Or a “salty” one?
You can’t stay away from the bag of chips?
Or you’re drooling at the sight of chocolate chip cookies?
Or maybe both?
Either way, I’m sure you sometimes imagine how much easier your life could be without these cravings.
How much more successful your weight loss efforts would be if you didn’t feel this mouth-watering sensation every time you looked at the source of your craving.
If you still dream that one day you’ll wake up and your cravings will have stopped once and for all, stop dreaming.
This. Will. Not. Happen. Ever.
We all live in the 21st century. Over the past centuries our world created civilization from food. It wasn’t just used to fuel our bodies. We were raised in societies that used food as part of social encounters, family traditions, holiday festivities, friendly gatherings, and so on. Food was a source of enjoyment and entertainment.
And actually, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s called living and it’s pretty amazing!
But if you think you can suddenly fight back to all those years of living with this frame of mind, I’m afraid you’ll be met with an ugly surprise. Our human brains work in a pretty simple way:
If something makes us feel good, we want more of it.
Accept it. Cravings will always be part of our lives.
Especially if we’re women and our hormones ally with our sweet tooth once in a while.
Or if we’re emotional eaters and we want to gulp down our feelings with some sweet or salty help.
Or if we just lack some strong willpower and we use the above excuses to allow ourselves to fall head-first in the temptation which is calling our name!
So what do we do? Do we become the slaves of those food cravings that are constantly around us, putting our weight loss or weight maintenance efforts in continuous jeopardy? Nope! We build a strong defense system and fight back.
My own self-defense against cravings, was actually a discussion with myself. I developed it when I was trying to lose weight but I kept it as a strategy that can help me stick to moderation and make weight maintenance an easier job.
Here’s how it goes.
At first, I would take a distance from the temptation and ask myself:
Do you really want to eat this? Is it something you really like or you just want it because…
a. That’s what you’ve been used to doing for years.
b. It has a “sweet-unhealthy” label which suits your own “sweet-tooth-person” label.
c. You’re trying to eat away your boredom, anger, sadness, disappointment.
Usually, it worked. My sensible, non-spontaneous and patient self would find the right answer and drag me away from the craving’s source. I was amazed to find out that many of the things I thought I liked actually belonged to the second category. I had convinced myself that I had a sweet tooth and I had every right to treat my body like a sugar-eating garbage bin! The truth is I don’t like all kinds of sweets. And I’ve come to enjoy the ones I really like better. So, my self-talk worked most of the times.
But not always.
There were times I really liked something and I just wanted to eat it.
“If you can halve it, you can have it.”
My common sense told me that I had no reason to halve a healthy and nutritious banana, as I had been advised once in the past while on my zillionth diet…
But that rule could help me with other foods that really need portion control. Imagine you’re a donut-lover. Can you live without donuts for the rest of your life? The longer you deprive yourself of them, the more you’ll end up eating. What if you can have half-a-donut once in a while? Stop the craving without doing a big damage. Isn’t this a fair compromise?
Plan B would usually work.
But not always.
There were times that the selfish, eat-everything-in-sight, emotional-eating monster would wake up inside my head and begin its own revolution.
So, after everything else had failed, there was only one solution…
Yes, you read that right. Give in to the temptation. Consciously. I would remind myself that it’s only this one time, that I can’t do this every day, that the next day I’d be back on the right track first thing in the morning. Then I would give in. And enjoy it.
Chances are that the self-talk that led me to this decision will make me eat sensibly and not over-indulge. But even if I do, it’s only one time. It’s the exception. And exceptions only exist to prove how strong our rules are.
This is how I deal with cravings. I don’t expect them to disappear and I don’t pretend they don’t exist. I just fight them. And occasionally I give in. But I choose my battles.
You can build your own defense system, too. According to your own lifestyle and to your own character.
I’m sure that this fight will only make you happier. You’ll be able to enjoy the things you really like once in a while but also feel really good for yourself that you had the power to say no to any “disguised” cravings like the ones mentioned above.
And, most importantly, this is something you can do for the rest of your life.
It is an excellent way to practice moderation and become a more sensible and resilient eater.
So, what’s your plan?
And, most importantly, what’s your plan B?