Reprogramming my thoughts with cognitive behaviour therapy has significantly decreased the number of cravings I experience on a daily basis.
Ironically, the fact that I don't experience as many cravings means I have less opportunity to practice handling cravings during those spontaneous food moments during the day.
Such as when the manager asks if I'm interested in a piece of leftover black forest cake from the department potluck. OR when I grab an extra arrowroot cookie for the kids and grab a few for myself (same goes for chocolate chips from the pantry). OR when you are camping and there are enough snacks for a five families instead of two.
I'm not really thinking about what I'm doing - it's completely mindless eating. What I've noticed about mindless eating is that I don't make a decision to eat or not - I just eat. Eating just seems to happen.
So the first step to handle a craving is to make a decision - am I going to eat or not?
By making a decision on whether or not to eat allows me to slow down and consider whether or not I want to eat. And come up with a plan based on my decision to eat or not.
This is not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes I consciously avoid making a decision. Sometimes I completely forget to make a decision. It's difficult to overwrite a 30 year old behaviour with a new behaviour.
My strategy to make a decision first is to write down the food and amount of food that I'm going to eat before I eat. By writing it down in my Evernote food book, I'm forced to think about my decision:
- Do I really want to eat this food? Why?
- If I decide to eat this food, how much am I going to eat?
- If I decide to not eat, what do I need to do to ensure that happens?
Once I make a decision (and write it down in my notebook) I live with the decision, I don't feel guilty if I decide to eat and I don't obsess about the food I'm not eating.
Here are a couple of things to consider:
- When I'm really struggling with a craving, I make a series of short-term decisions. For example, I can decide to not eat a piece of cake, but if I still want to eat the cake in five minutes, I can make another decision to eat (or not). Each time I decide to delay eating the cake, I am closer to riding out the craving.
- Establishing a new behaviour takes time and practice. If you don't make a decision when a craving hits, don't be discouraged, figure out if you can do anything different the next time and try again.
First post: How to handle cravings - pt. 1
Next post: How to handle cravings - distract and don't over think it