There it is, sitting where the light hits it perfectly. It’s glistening gooey glaze slides down onto the plate. The succulent circumference of doughy goodness there to tempt you days into your new diet. What the heck, man?!? This isn’t fair! Your lunch is composed of a half cup of broccoli, baked chicken thighs, and mashed sweet potatoes. All of which you have forgotten about due to the glazed doughnut.
Humans are visual creatures. The eyes allow us to process our environment and tell our brains what’s good or what’s bad. Unfortunately, “good" and “bad” may be overshadowed by the fact that sugar has the ability to hijack our dopamine responses to make us believe it is good because it “feels” good. So we find ourselves at an impasse: feel good now or feel good later?
If you’ve just started a new diet plan or lifestyle change, you may find that the first few week are dreadful. It might seem like there are diet-busting sweets lurking around every corner, and there may well be. However, engorging in every sweet treat in a 5 mile radius is a sure way to add 5,000 unnecessary calories to your diet. So realistically speaking, how do you deal with diet cravings?
Well, for starters, take note of what you’re craving. Is it salty? Sweet? Fried? Covered in cheese? All of the above? Whenever our bodies crave foods that aren’t inherently beneficial to us, we should step back at the root of the cause. If we consume a Wisconsin’s worth of cheese on the daily, it’s no wonder that we are going to crave cheese because our bodies have become dependent on it. A recent study showed that cheese can have as much addictive properties as cocaine. If you’ve had a free for all diet for years, it’s unlikely that you’re going to break your addiction for cheese, sweets, fried foods, etc over night.
Instead of going cold turkey, ween yourself off that succulent glazed doughnut. Most often, we crave certain foods after we see them or smell them. So you’re not crazy, that waft of waffle fries was just enough to get your salivary glands going. Instead of pulling out $3.99 every time you smell fries, aim to be purposeful. Seeing or smelling cheat foods isn’t an automatic pass for tasting said foods.
Being purposeful with your cravings is beneficial in two ways. Holding off on that doughnut can help cue your brain that “seeing” doesn’t justify “eating.” If your willpower isn’t up to snuff yet, don’t tempt it. Avoid it. If glancing at the Krispy Kreme sign is enough to send you to the drive-tru, try taking another way to work. If you know Larry buys enough Popeyes to share, eat your lunch away from him. There’s no shame in avoiding your temptations. When you do get to you cheat meal know thatcheat meals on lowered calorie diets have been proven to bump up your metabolism so your body does not become acclimated to decrease caloric intake. Win!
Many people who have made life style changes to their diets have often noted their cravings aren't as intense after a few weeks. Not only that, the foods they once craved now make them feel sick and sluggish. As you begin to change what you eat, your body begins to change what it craves. Imagine actually craving steamed vegetables or homemade soup. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Well, it’s the truth! Also, after a while, your body begins to crave the foods it actually needs. Low sodium levels? Your body may crave a salty broth. (Pregnant women have been known to crave all sorts of whacky foods due to their hormonal fluctuations.)
Cravings in and of themselves are not inherently bad. It’s what you do with them that count. If you’re seriously struggling with cravings, it’s okay to ask for help. You may need to reorganize your pantry if that’s where your diets go to die. You’re equipped to handle your cravings. Show the glazed doughnut who’s boss.
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