I get it – we all have our cravings. For me, it’s usually chocolate. For others, potato chips are their weak spot. It’s like we are running on automatic pilot before we even realize we have the cake in our mouths.
Often I’ll have patients come in for weight loss and after investigating further, we figure out the cravings and snack trends. I’ve come up with a short list of things to look into when you are constantly craving something
1. Tell yourself to HALT
H: Hunger. Am I really hungry or do I just want it? If I am hungry, would an apple do? If not, then you are not really hungry.
A: Anger. Am I wanting to eat because I am angry or frustrated? If so, figure out another way to deal with the frustration. Talking, crying, going for a walk, breathing exercises, meditation are ideas.
L: Lonely: Do I need to eat or am I really lonely? If so, maybe call a friend to talk to.
T: Tired: Am I just tired? If so, get some rest.
And I sometimes call it HALT (B). The “B” part is for boredom. Are you just bored and need something to do? If this is the case, stop going on automatic pilot and start to think of something you could do better with your time, maybe something relaxing or inspiring?
By going through the HALT (B) process, you can identify what is really driving you to the bag of chips and often it isn’t hunger. And even by the time you do the process, the cravings will have started to decrease.
2. Breathe for a bit.
Close your eyes, place your hand on your abdomen and feel your lungs expand while you inspire through your nose for a count of 4. Then hold for a count of 4. Release the air through your mouth until all the air is out for a count of 4 and then hold for a count of 4. Do this a number of times (at least 4 times) and then ask what it is you really need. By drawing your attention away from the craving and then back to your inner self, the craving feeling can reduce and become manageable.
3. Limit eating after dinner.
People will often eat amazingly healthy foods during the day and then in the evening it is a free-for-all setting. Easily handfuls of nuts, chips, crackers, cookies are downed in watching a favourite show in the evening. If you can stop all food intake after dinner (and eat dinner before 7:30pm), you will be helping yourself a lot with weight management.
4. Keep a very limited supply of unhealthy snacks at home.
If these tempting snacks aren’t there when you have cravings, you can’t eat them. And if you are starving, wash a carrot and eat it. It will help in the moment while you are preparing a more substantial meal.
5. And if you are going to eat the food that you are craving, do it consciously and ENJOY it!
You can’t live in a bubble and stay away from delicious treats all the time or other issues could develop. But, if you have been eating well for most of the week, make sure you enjoy a good treat with a friend. Or, from my philosophy on chocolate, avoid the chocolate bars to save up for the beautiful piece of chocolate cake.