I recently read this article from Everyday Health on how to keep ourselves from craving sweets. Thought it was excellent and wanted to share it, along with a few tips of my own.
Q: I used to be very conscious of my health and had very good habits, but recently I gained ten pounds in one month because of my addiction to chocolate! I have to have at least one piece a day, and I’m craving sweet stuff in general. I don’t understand why I have these cravings. I never even added sugar to my coffee, but now I constantly want to eat sweets. What’s happening here, and how do I break this habit?— Nadeya, Michigan
A: (Dr. Martin Binks) It’s difficult to know why you are suddenly craving sweets, but one way to find out is to do a little homework. Start carrying a small notebook with you. When you have a craving, write down details like the time of day, your mood, what you were doing at the time, who you were with, and what you ate that day. This will help you identify any particular triggers or patterns that may be contributing to your problem.
People commonly crave certain foods when they are:
- Feeling deprived. Swearing off specific foods or not getting enough calories can lead to cravings.
- Managing emotions. People often use food to reward themselves or reduce stress.
- Dealing with learned patterns or associations. If you always eat cake with coffee, for example, the smell of coffee can make you crave cake.
There are many ways to work on controlling your cravings, and you’re already practicing one of them: If you can limit the food you’re craving to a reasonable portion (in your case, one piece of chocolate) then perhaps you can make the food a regular part of your eating plan. Work it into your total calorie count for the day and enjoy!
Often, though, people find it difficult to limit the foods that they crave. If you’re one of those people, try making a list of hard-to-resist foods. Start with the ones that are the least difficult, and when you have them, do what is called mindful eating. Take small bites, savoring each one, and try to eat very slowly. By practicing in this way, you can re-teach yourself to control your intake of certain foods. When you master one, move to the next one on the list.
Finally, distraction, or finding other ways to reward or soothe yourself can also work. Next time you find yourself reaching for food that you’re craving, do something else instead. Go for a walk with a friend, take a relaxing bath, listen to some music — anything to take your mind off that craving! The good news is, if you distract yourself, most cravings pass in about 20 minutes.
A few more thoughts on this……
Deprivation – I would also have to add that if portion control for sweets is hard (i.e. one small piece of chocolate cake or bowl of ice cream leads to two, three or four) maybe sweets should be on hold for a time before healthy moderation can be achieved. Find other healthier alternatives like Greek yogurt and fruit, make healthy muffins, or eat a healthy granola bar with fiber and a little chocolate in it.
Emotions – Change of mindset from, “I can’t have this, or any more of that” to “I get to enjoy this one treat and feel good”. A healthy eating plan is to be freeing, not burdensome. Our minds are a powerful thing. Look deeper at the motivation behind the temptation or craving, and what it is you’re really desiring. Have a written plan for stressful situations so you’re not caught off-guard.
Patterns – One healthy choice empowers and brings us one step closer to breaking unhealthy cycles, patterns of behavior and thinking. I know it isn’t easy, but it is possible. Consistency is the key to changing our brain pathways and chemistry. If you stray from your healthy eating plan don’t throw in the towel and just finish off the bag of chips in misery. Stop, drop and (no just kidding). Stop, reorient your thoughts and look at your plan, why you’re doing it, and how you feel when making wise choices. Then, remind yourself how you’d feel if you finished off the donuts (by the way, just keep those out of the house and office all together).
“New habits are formed by being consistent.” -Joyce Meyer
For a healthy, sweet treat try my fresh fruit & mint kabobs with berry yogurt dip. Kids will love them too!
ABOVE IMAGE SOURCES:
http://www.fanpop.com/spots/fruit/images/6333997/title/cherry-fruit http://onemansblog.com/2010/09/13/a-photographic-journey-to-the-dallas-farmers-market/colorfulvegetables/ http://www.fanpop.com/spots/fruit/images/6334027/title/lemon-wallpaper