Conquering food cravings: a tips list
When I'm trying to lose weight, sometimes I'll be tripping merrily along when suddenly, out of nowhere, a craving calls. Whether it's for pizza, a cheeseburger, a Snickers bar or a bowl of Ben & Jerry's, a craving can call my weight-loss campaign to a screeching, if temporary, halt. Is there a way to overcome their powerful allure? Guest blogger Judith Beck, author of "The Beck Diet Solution" and "The Complete Beck Diet for Life," tells us how to conquer those cravings. - Jennifer
Whether you're trying to lose 10 pounds, like Jennifer, or 100 pounds, you will have to learn what to do when cravings hit. It will take practice, but you can get really good at consistently resisting them. It does take a set of skills and lots of practice, though. Here are a few techniques you can use:
- Motivate yourself to resist a craving. Read a long list of reasons you want to lose weight and read it every morning and again just before your most vulnerable time of day. You never know when a craving will hit, so prepare yourself daily.
- Eat in a healthy way. Do allow yourself to indulge in a moderate portion of a favorite food once every day. But if it's a sugary food, you may develop a physiological (not to mention psychological) craving for more -- so eat it before bedtime, then brush your teeth and go to bed.
- Label your experience. In fact, write a card to read every day, BEFORE you get a craving. It could say something like, "This is just a craving. Big deal. It will definitely go away. I can make it go away faster by declaring that I'm definitely NOT going to eat it and turning my attention to a compelling activity. If I'm wishy-washy about it, I may end up eating. That will give me a few moments of pleasure, but I'll feel badly for a much longer time afterwards."
- Respond to that sabotaging voice that says, "It won't matter if I give in to this craving this one time." Read another card every day that says, "It DOES matter. Every time I give in, I strengthen my 'giving-in muscle,' which makes it more likely that the next time I'll give in and the next time and the next time. Every time I resist a craving, I strengthen my 'resistance muscle,' which makes it more likely that I'll be able to resist the next time, and the time after that and the time after that."
- There are lots of other techniques, but I'll mention just one more. Eventually, you'll get to the point where you notice a craving and automatically go on with what you're doing. But it's difficult to do so initially, so you may need to deliberately change your focus.
- Make yourself a "distraction box" in which you put lists of activities that are highly distracting to you (e.g., friends to call or e-mail, Web sites to visit, computer games you like to play, chores that need to be done) and objects you can use to distract yourself (a word puzzle book, a favorite DVD or CD -- if they're distracting enough -- a catalog, etc.) For women, an excellent addition to the box is a bottle of nail polish. By the time your nails dry, your craving will be gone.
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