Lets talk food: Cravings vs Hunger!
I naturally cycle through periods where I eat super healthy for a few months then I’ll fall off the wagon and treat my body like a garbage disposal for weeks!
Being pregnant I find not just myself but others making excuses for me when I graze throughout the day. “Are you sure you’re eating enough?” or “That’s the baby telling you he needs those nutrients.”
I think that this is something that sooooo many people struggle with (regardless of pregnancy status!) How do you tell if you are actually hungry? And then the BIG QUESTION: If you find yourself eating your emotions or from boredom or because the food is there, how do you stop?
Hunger vs Craving
How much have you eaten already?
It may seem obvious but how much have you eaten already? If you had a decent size lunch an hour or two previously but still find yourself reaching for the bag of chips you might not actually be hungry.
Harder to tell is if you are a meal skipper but graze a lot. Those little snacks sure can add up! Even if you’re not counting calories it might be helpful to write down that handful of nuts you just ate. It might surprise you how much you have actually eaten.
Are you emotional? Bored? Anxious?
Take inventory of your emotional state. A hard day isn’t usually enough to derail me if I’m one of my good streaks but if I’m already mid-month-long-binge then the tiniest emotional upset can cause me to spiral deeper out of control.
Other states of emotion that can throw my eating habits into a frenzy are Boredom and Anxiety. If I’m bored I will grab handfuls of cereal and cookies just to keep my mind occupied. If I’m anxious (which I seem to be alot :-| ) I will also grab food by the handfuls to take my mind off things.
I’m sure there are other emotions and hormones (hello period!) that can throw one off a healthy eating pattern too! What are yours?
What is it you are wanting to eat?
I’ve heard it said, “If you aren’t willing to eat a carrot stick you aren’t really hungry.” I never eat plain carrot sticks but it is true that when I am eating healthy and am hungry I love things like salads, fruits, and proteins. I am perfectly fine with skipping dessert. When I am in binge mode I can’t stop thinking about the delicious confections in the freezer or the sugary cereals stocked in the pantry.
There really is no nutritional value to be gained from a box of frosted flakes so unless you are about to faint from low blood sugar your body is probably not telling you to reach for the cookie.
So you’re not actually hungry. What to do?
If you’re being at all honest with yourself you knew all along that you weren’t really hungry before you polished off that box of Thin Mints. Now comes the hard part. Stop Eating. Put down the chips. Walk away from the freezer. Except that when you are fueled by emotions and are a complete hormonal mess its really, really, really hard to do that. I am still working on my perfect solution. Obviously I would have a slammin’ hot bod if I was good at this. But alas, this article is really for me most of all! Here are some tactics that I have had varying success with and that others swear by:
Find something else to do. Read a chapter. Play a game. Wash some dishes. Or best yet — Exercise! Why not burn some calories while you aren’t eating. Plus then you’ll feel healthy, will see yourself as a healthy person, and won’t want to ruin all that hard work.
Rid Thyself of Temptation
My husband hates this one. If I am having a hard time keeping away from a batch of cookies or bag of chips I have been known to throw them away. I will avoid keeping any tempting little morsels in the home until I can get myself under control. Obviously unfair to those who have a little self control and would like a treat now and again.
Portion it Out, Lock it Up
A sort of middle ground between having a fully stocked pantry and an empty freezer. I’ve used the Kitchen Safe before. Portion out the goodies into ziplock bags then lock them up. The box only opens once a day. Get your treat out then lock it up immediately!
Also, when buying treats for Ocki, I spend the dollar or two extra to get them pre-portioned rather than doing it myself. It is a tiny bit easy not to eat them all at once when they come that way.
Write it Down
Sites like MyFitnessPal.com make tracking what you eat a lot easier as they have a database of foods that other users have already input nutritional data for. It doesn’t pass your lips until you write it down. This also helps to give you back control. You can plan out exactly what you are going to eat ahead of time and so there is no guessing.
The “NO fill in the blank” Method
Sometimes getting into writing everything down, counting calories, etc can be daunting after periods of unbridled freedom. I find that it can help to ease back into things. One of my favorites is to self-impose “No snacking between meals.” Other popular variations include “No more soda”, “No more added sugars”, “No meat”…..the list goes on and on. Identify your trouble foods and try to eliminate that food for a set period of time.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
While working on getting back on track is great it really is just treating a symptom. To make a true lifestyle change you’ve got to get down and dirty and identify the real issues that cause you to overeat. What are your triggers? Again, still working on this.
For me, a binge most often starts with eating the unexpected. I’ll be doing great and can have ice cream in the fridge for a month and not touch it even when I’ve had a hard day and am bawling my eyes out. Then an unplanned event with lots of food will come up. Or I’ll let my loved ones convince me to make an unplanned batch of cookies. To me this suggests there just might be some control issues surrounding food. One little mess up is enough to ruin months of hard work.
I’m going to be honest. I don’t really know what to do about this. Any amateur psychologists out there are welcome to give me their input!!!
Your particular issue might be a little different but to beat the bulge it needs to be confronted.
What are your favorite methods for getting rid of cravings? What are your triggers? Lets help each other out! Give your best tips in the comments below.
Until next time!