We all have cravings—those foods you find you just absolutely need to have. I used to give in to every craving I ever had with an excuse about rewarding myself. But how do we overcome these cravings?
Most cravings are a very short term desire. There are different strategies we can use to help outlast a craving, and usually they simply go away. Use the 5 D’s to help:
Delay giving in to any craving for at least 10 minutes. When you force yourself to wait, you know you’re not giving in impulsively. There are times when giving into a craving is perfectly fine! But make sure you’re not giving in on impulse. Give yourself time to think and evaluate why your craving something and how you are going to either give in or not give in.
Distract yourself. Take your mind off of whatever you’re craving. Go check your email, work on your scrapbook, call your friend, clean your bathroom. Give your brain something to concentrate on other than your craving.
Distance yourself from the food you are craving, and I mean physically move yourself away from the food’s location. If you’re standing in line at the grocery store craving a Hershey bar, get out of that line. Go check out at the customer service counter where there is no candy display, or at one of the self check-out lines. If you’re at home, go for a walk or bike ride. If you’re at a party, go to the other side of the room—for heaven’s sake, why were you standing next to the buffet in the first place?
Determine how important it is for you to eat the food you crave. Often, we’re not truly craving a food but the reaction from our bodies to a certain food. If you’re craving a soda, you might just be looking for an afternoon pick-me-up. Have a cup of black coffee instead—you still get the caffeine, but for only 5 calories. I often determine that a craving right now isn’t as important as something I have planned for later. I’m not going to give in to that doughnut in the office kitchen today, because I’m planning on having a GIANT piece of cake at my birthday party this weekend.
Decide what would be the smartest way to give into your craving, and accept your decision. If we’re truthful with ourselves, there’s no way we could deny every craving we ever have. Take a moment to decide how you will give into your craving. If I’m craving a chocolate bar, I might decide instead to have one of my chocolate Zone bars. The Zone bar has protein and less sugar than just the straight chocolate bar. The Zone bar is still about the same calories, but it’s a smarter way to give in that won’t leave me in a bad spot after my decision (looking for more sugar when my metabolism crashes). But even if I give in and eat the chocolate bar, I need to accept that I made the decision. That means not beating myself up over the decision I made and jumping right back to eating smart and healthy.
How do you overcome your cravings? Do you have any moments where you gave into a craving but in a very smart way?