Cravings

Hi folks!  Happy 2013!!

First, a couple of housekeeping items before the main event of today’s post.  This year – I really want to hear from you!  I am constantly inspired by my readers and I want to create more of a dialogue when it comes to this blog(obviously everything will always remain anonymous when posted!)  What nutrition questions do YOU want me to address?  What do YOU struggle with in keeping a balanced, healthy life?  What new healthy dish did you make and would love to share??  Please feel free to send in any and all questions/comments/crazy ideas!

And now, the topic of today’s blog:  Cravings.

Royalty-Free Stock Photography by Rubberball

Last week, I was thrown into the midst of a chocolate CRISIS .  As in, “I have to have chocolate RIGHT NOW or I will throw a fit.”.  And of course, all I had in my kitchen were Larabars.  In such a situation I had 3 options:

A)  Sprint to the nearest grocery store.  Buy chocolate.  Eat.

B)  Make tea.  Try to sit with the craving for a little.  Scowl.

C)  Do something entirely different from eating — like cleaning my closet (likely story..ha).

What did I do?  Option A — kind of.  I did go across the street, bought an individual-sized piece of chocolate at Starbucks and ate it.  So why am I telling you this seemingly pointless story about my eating habits??  The point of this story is that cravings are NORMAL, and it’s important to sometimes give in to those cravings.  But the important idea here is SOMETIMES, not all the time.  Strategic indulgences every now and then ultimately help you eat healthier overall, because being restrictive all the time is a recipe for failure.

Generally, cravings fall into 3 categories:

  1. Craving a food because you are missing out on a certain nutrient (example: not eating enough fruit can make you crave sweets, since you are not getting any natural sugars)
  2. Craving a food to fill an emotional need (i.e.  bored, lonely, sad, angry)
  3. Craving a food for no particular reason at all and the craving won’t go away.

In example #1, you can tell if you’re missing out on a nutrient if you get the same type of craving pretty frequently (once or even several times a day) and it is persistent even if you sit with it for a while.  In this situation, it’s important to try to take a look at your diet more closely – try doing a food journal for 3 days to figure out if there is in fact something missing.

In example #2, you are craving a food because you want to fill an emotional need.  This is the type of craving that generally trips a lot of people up.  The best solution?  Distract yourself.  Try doing something completely different from food – whether it be cleaning out your desk, or taking your dog for a walk.  Distracting your brain even for 15 minutes from that craving is usually enough to make it go away completely.

In example #3, when a craving persists even after you wait it out, you have 2 options.  The first option is to substitute it for something similar but healthier, like subbing an ice cream sundae for a couple pieces of a frozen banana with a shmear of a little peanut or almond butter.  But sometimes, a substitute just will not fill that need!  Your second option is to have a either a portion-controlled version of the real deal (like a small serving of dark chocolate), or to plan this indulgence into your week (maybe that means one less cocktail on friday night!).  Eating the real deal on occasion can help you stay healthier by helping you not feel deprived and overeat as a result of that “diety” feeling.  But the really important thing is that these indulgences are a once-in-a-while thing not a once-every-day thing!

Here’s to a healthy (and hopefully warmer!) week!!

GS

 

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