Here’s a common scenario: You’re feeling stressed from: work, family, school, friends, life – pick one, or all of them. With that stress comes a need to make yourself feel better, usually with food. And what are you craving? Probably the worst possible thing for you. Typically, the most unhealthiest foods are the ones we crave the most. Damn that Colonel Sanders.
It might be a cookie here and there, a slice or two of pizza, a few gulps of soda. A few hours go by and you realize you’ve had an entire sleeve of cookies, 2 liters of soda, an entire pizza. Do you even remember eating these foods? Did you enjoy it? Do you hate yourself now?
Food is not a reward or a punishment; it’s simply food. In the most basic sense food is fuel, and to run optimally you want to put the best possible fuel into your body. If you pour sugar into the gas tank of a car, the engine will break (unless it’s an 85′ Delorean with a flux capacitor and a modified Mr. Fusion in the back). If you keeping pouring sugar into the gas tank that is your body, it too will break.
A big trigger of cravings is stress, and when you’re feeling highly stressed and overwhelmed you’ll seek out some form of comfort food to ease the pain. But food is not your friend. It doesn’t care about you. It’s not going to call you on your birthday. Instead of opening your desk drawer and pulling out the M&Ms (you know they’re in there), take 10 minutes to de-stress – drink a glass of water, take a lap around the block, and see if you still have that craving.
Just because you have a craving does not mean you have to indulge yourself. You’re all big boys and girls, wearing your big boy and girl pants. If every single person acted on every single impulse they ever had, society would collapse. Restraint (and opposable thumbs) is one of the many things that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.
When it comes time to deal with and manage your cravings do so in a controlled manner. Be MINDFUL of your food. Enjoy it. Savor every bite or sip. Don’t over do it. Eat or drink only as much is needed to satisfy the craving.
If there is a gluten-free/paleo/primal version of what you’re craving, eat that version first. If that doesn’t satisfy the craving, try the real thing.
If what you’re craving is your grandmother’s homemade apple pie, there’s no substitute for that. Eat one or two small pieces. Take your time with it. Tell her it was delicious, and say thank you.
Eat or drink something because it’s special to you, because you really want it, not because it’s simply in front of you.
It all comes down to: Is It Worth It? Ask yourself if what you’re about to eat is going to absolutely wreck you for the next one to three days? Yes? Maybe? I don’t know? Is it still worth it? Is this one little cookie going to lead to an entire bag? Is it worth it? Is that bag of cookies going to keep you from obtaining your goals? Is it still worth it?
The point of managing your cravings is not to cram as much crap in as possible. It’s to acknowledge your cravings, be present and mindful in what you’re eating, address the cravings in a controlled manner, and ask yourself: Is It Worth It?