Making Peace With Your Cravings

My doctor said something weird the other day. He told me to eat more real food. I thought it was strange because, you know, it’s not like I’m five years old and eating imaginary cookies. I told him I do eat real food and I can prove it. I grabbed the tire around my waist and said, “You don’t get this from make believe tea parties!”

But he might be on to something.

Have you ever thought about the things you and I crave? If you’re like me, it’s more along the lines of cookies, not carrots. The stuff that calls your name usually falls into the faux food category, things that don’t exist in nature, such as chicken fingers and curly fries. I’m thinking if 90 of what I eat comes from a factory and not from a field or farm, it’s probably not a good thing.

Enter Diana Walker, cravings coach. She says that whether we’re stressed or relaxed while we’re eating may make the difference when it comes to food cravings and even weight loss. In fact, one of the major reasons you experience cravings, according to Walker, is because your body isn’t properly using the nutrients that it is receiving.

She suggests having real “sit-down” meals. Slow down and don’t rush your eating. Paying attention to your emotions is also crucial; we need to relax before a meal with meditation, for instance, or other ways.

Even for an experienced binge master like myself, Diana’s words are revealing. Instead of trying to solve the problem that’s making me eat—which is a lot to pack into the two minutes it takes to grab a plate, checkered bib, and utensils and plant myself at the table for a serious chow-down—maybe all I need to do is relax.

What else can stop a craving dead in its tracks? Different things work for different people. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Brush your teeth. It’ll keep you from putting food in there.
  • Drink a big glass of water. You’ll stay hydrated, and spend less time in front of the open fridge door hunting for something to satisfy that unidentifiable urge.
  • Eat carbs that are high in fiber. Avoid most non-white, processed carbs and reach instead for brown rice, whole-grain breads, and fiber-rich fruits and veggies to feel full longer and enjoy a steadier energy level.
  • Get out of the house. Go for a walk or talk a drive.
  • Take your vitamins. Cravings are a sign that you may be missing nutrients.
  • Have healthy snacks prepared and ready to go.
  • Find something to do with your hands. Knit, garden, scrapbook, or write. It’s hard to shovel stuff in your mouth when your hands are busy.

Okay, I suppose you can still binge even when your hands are busy, but your odds are definitely lower. Or you’re eating something other than real food. Those imaginary cookies don’t require much handling, and they don’t drop crumbs on your computer keyboard.

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