Tuesday, January 25, 2011
The American Century Dictionary defines “crave” as to “long or beg for.” What visions come to mind when you hear the word “beg”? Someone asking for money on the street? A dog whining to be fed? A child nagging for candy or a toy? Not positive images are they? But when we crave a tasty treat, all negative connotations get pushed aside, as we rush to the kitchen in a kind of euphoric trance.
What causes these feelings and what can we do about them? The reasons for cravings can be vastly different among individuals. Stress, depression, chemical and physiological imbalances, availability or proximity to food, the environment, a vitamin deficiency, or simply hunger, can all create the urge to eat or drink. And even though you may think it impossible, there are ways to combat these urges.
No, that doesn’t mean getting in the car and driving to the nearest burger joint! Outdoor activity can be a healthy distraction when the crave hits. Not only does being outside promote other healthy activities such as playing sports, yard work, running, walking, or just getting some fresh air, but it keeps us away from the biggest danger to our willpower –FOOD!
This is probably the least popular of all crave killers but often a very effective one. Walk into the bathroom or a private area where there is a full-length mirror. Shed your clothing. Like what you see? If you’re like most people, there is probably at least one area of your body that you are unhappy with, but don’t be discouraged. Look at this as an opportunity and as further motivation.
Since you’re already undressed, there is another great way to sooth those tummy rumbles. Hop in the shower or bathtub. A warm shower or a relaxing bath with a healthy glass of red wine or tea can reduce stress-causing factors that lead to comfort food cravings. This is not only a great way to forget your troubles but also your cravings. Remember, there’s no food handy when you’re in the tub!
Turn your craving into a game. See if you can push yourself. When the urge hits, challenge it. If you find yourself becoming hungry each morning around eleven, dare yourself to last until lunch. If an hour seems too long to wait, see if you can push yourself a little each day. Try going until ten after on the first day, a couple days later push it to twenty after, and so on, until you make it to lunchtime without a snack. Following the same logic, you could decrease the size of the snack each day until you find you no longer need it.
Don’t you hate when you’re watching television or a movie and suddenly the actors are singing a song or reciting a lengthy monologue that has nothing to do with the plot? It’s called filler, and while we may not like it, the same ploy that works for idea-obstructed screenwriters, can work to defeat our cravings. Keep healthy but filling snacks like carrot sticks, low-fat pretzels, light popcorn, and dried fruit around. Need something warm? Drink tea, even hot chocolate (dark chocolate will be higher in antioxidants) without all the whipped cream and marshmallows. Lightly buttered toast and water may also help you feel full until mealtime.
Challenge yourself to defeat cravings, but don’t overdo it. Everybody deserves an occasional treat. Just keep the rewards moderate and reasonable. When it comes down to it, there are many hurdles to healthy eating but very few can trip you up when they are consumed in small doses.
This article is for informational purposes only. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is at the reader’s discretion.