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I had a great request from Jackie: review strategies for combating cravings. This is an awesome topic heading into the holidays. Many people find they lose control of their diet when the holidays arrive. With all the sweets and treats passed around, it’s not surprising that the willpower takes a nosedive. It’s easy to think “I’ll get back on track after New Year’s.” It would be so much better to STAY on track through the holidays and maintain or even lose weight while your friends and family are gaining and feeling out of control.
My best suggestion for combating cravings is to plan for them! Take a moment to think honestly about when you lose control of your eating. What are your “danger foods?” Is there a certain time of day when you find really difficult to stay on track? What about a certain place? A certain person who seems to trigger cravings for you? Brainstorm and write down all of the triggers you can think of.
The next step is to take each trigger you’ve listed and write out a plan to get around them. Let me tell you some of my triggers and how I (try to) handle them.
- Sweets. I have a TERRIBLE sweet tooth. I do better if I simply don’t eat them at all. I joke in the office that an open bag of M&Ms is an empty bag if I’m around. Some very nice person gave me a big tub of Jelly Bellys for a gift once and it almost killed me.
- Mid-afternoon. 3 o’clock is a time of weakness for me. That’s when I go looking for chocolate in my office manager’s office. My trick is to eat a Cinch snack bar which gets me through to dinner. (Click HERE to see what the Cinch snack bars are). For some reason the snack bars don’t trigger my sweets cravings. Go figure! It’s the safest chocolate I know 😉
- Stress. I snack when I’m stressed. As I can’t avoid stress (you DO know what I do for a living, right?) I plan for it. I pack my lunch every day and I pack a snack that I can enjoy guilt-free. Triscuits are my favorite when I’m craving something salty (7 crackers for 120 calories) and fruit or a Cinch snack bar kills the sweets craving.
- The lunchroom at work and the doctors’ lounge at the hospital. This is where the junk food is. If I know the drug reps brought cookies I do NOT go into the lunchroom without backup in the late afternoon. I really DO love my reps but I wish they would bring fruit not cookies! Similarly, the doctors’ lounge at lunchtime when I’m on call (did I mention stress?) is a VERY bad idea.
Get out a pen and paper and write down some ideas. Carry it with you for a few days and write down when you eat something you wish you hadn’t eaten. What triggered it? What and where and when and why did you eat what you ate? After a week or so look back at the notes you made. Notice any themes or trends? Until you have a thorough understanding of the problem you can’t create a lasting solution. And don’t worry, you won’t be graded on your success 😉 Any insight you can get into your own problem eating habits (and as I showed you we ALL have them) will help you correct them.
As we go forward I’ll offer some suggestions for each specific holiday as it approaches. I love the winter holidays but it seems like Halloween through New Year’s is one big junk-food festival! Those of us who struggle with our weight need all the good ideas we can get. If you have a suggestion I missed please leave a comment!
Thanks again Jackie for the great topic suggestion!