Before you read this, you need to understand one thing.
Your self worth is not affected by your adherence to a diet.
Your self worth is not determined by the amount of chocolate you eat a day.
Your self worth is not a product of your scale weight and what you look like.
Your self worth is not even related to how other people view you.
And if you screw up your diet or give into a craving… it doesn’t matter.
Literally. It doesn’t matter.
The first step of anything is grace and understanding. Identify where your body (and mind!) are currently and meeting yourself there.
Ok good. Now we can talk about 3 strategies to help you regain control over your cravings.
Strategy #1: Sampling.
Sampling is the art (and it’s truly an art—it takes practice!) of allowing yourself to taste the very foods you are craving.
For example, if I’m craving french fries, I will stop and get a small fry (or even a kids size!). This keeps me from feeling deprived and going HAM on a large fry later. It also keeps me from binging on other foods that I crave later.
The MOST important aspect of this is mindfulness. Remind yourself not to mindlessly eat. This is important for most meals, but it’s really important for your treats. This treat is one of your favorites, so you want to savor it, right?! Slow down, really enjoy it. As soon as the next bite stops tasting as good as the first bite, stop eating.
Satisfy the craving, enjoy it, and move on.
Strategy #2 Make/use a healthier version of whatever you’re craving.
This is hands down my favorite strategy to deal with cravings. The key here is that the substitute can’t be a shitty substitute.
It has to be good. It has to be AMAZING. Most importantly, it has to satisfy. Otherwise, you’ll probably end up giving into the craving anyways and then you’ll have consumed even more calories than you would have if you had just had the thing you were craving.
Here’s a couple REALLY good substitutes I like. Keep in mind that a lot of this is just trial and error. You’ve really got to work to figure out what works for you.
PB &J Sandwich—Sub for rice cake with 1 TBSP PB and a handful of blueberries
French Fries– Sub for Roasted Cauliflower with salt (and butter sometimes too)
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup—Sub for chocolate/peanut butter protein shake.
Ingredients: Chocolate protein powder, powdered (lower fat) peanut butter. I use PB2, I especially love the chocolate flavor. Ice. Blender. Voila.
Strategy #3: Identify what you’re really after.
Often times cravings come on as a sign of your body actually needing something else. This may be sleep, relaxation, endorphins, or even satisfaction.
The first step in trying to identify what you’re really after is simple: pay attention.
Pay attention to the what, when, and why a craving gets triggered. I often suggest writing this information down in the notepad section on your phone.
The second step is look for commonalities. Once you’ve started paying attention to your cravings, you may notice a common theme. Maybe that theme is a stressful day at work Maybe that theme is a certain time of day.
Once you’ve noticed the theme, you can put a plan into place to conquer the craving.
For example, say you’ve just had a really awful night’s sleep followed by a stressful day at work. You arrive home, exhausted, starving, and a big ball of stress. Immediately, you notice you’re craving Ben and Jerry’s Brownie Batter ice cream (your favorite).
Instead of eating an entire pint of brownie batter ice cream to yourself, stop and ask yourself what you’re really after.
If you’re stressed, sleep deprived, and starving, you’re probably really after a good, nutritious meal and some relaxation.
You’re starving because you were so busy at work and skipped lunch and/or an afternoon snack. Your blood sugar is low, of course you’re craving your favorite food. Implement an afternoon snack about 1.5-2 hours prior to going home. I suggest something filling, like greek yogurt and berries, or veggies with hummus.
Next, fix a nutritious meal with lots of protein and veggies once you get home.
Then, light some candles, put on your favorite music, and take a 20-30 minute bath without any social media or cell phone interruptions. I also enjoy a good leisure walk, or 10 minutes of stretching/foam rolling.
Your body doesn’t need 4 servings of ice cream. And I can guess that if you give it the ice cream you think it needs, you’ll end up feeling guilty and unsatisfied.
But, if you can identify what you’re really after and satisfy THAT… well… then you’re unstoppable little badass!
At the end of the day, in order to conquer those cravings, you’ll need to treat it like anything else: lots of practice, lots of mindfulness, and with a kick-ass action plan.
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