Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to handle a craving - part 2: Distract your thoughts and don't over think it

I've made a decision. I've decided to not eat the ten pack of French Crueller timbits that I'm craving.

Now, I just have to stop thinking about those mmmm soft, smothered in icing, melts-in-your-mouth timbits.

After all, what is the point of continuing to think about these damn timbits if I've already decided to not eat them? Am I a glutton for punishment?

Looking back, I'm baffled that I thought that the relentless, internal debate triggered by a food craving was normal:

"I want to eat this timbit. No, actually, I want to eat twenty of them."

"I can't. I shouldn't. I don't need it."

"But, it tastes so good!"

"Timbits are fattening."

"I don't care. I'll eat it anyways. Nothing else will satisfy me."

My original resolve to not eat, to not give into the craving was continuously tested until I gave into the craving. This could take an hour, or two or could last for a few days or more. It was inevitable that a craving eventually lead to giving in and eating. It was just a matter of time.

Continuing to think about the food that you are craving only serves to extend the life of a craving.  Therefore, if you want to stop a craving, you have to stop thinking about it!

Therefore, once you've made a decision to not eat, the next step is to physically move away from the food you are craving. Physically separating yourself from the food you are craving helps to mentally banish the thought of it too.

If you are unable to physically move away from the food, move the food so you can no longer see it. I place frozen food in the downstairs freezer, place cookies for the kids in the absolutely useless corner kitchen cabinet or behind the extra ziploc baggies in the hard-to-reach shelf of the pantry.

Once you've eliminated the visual reminder, turn your attention to something other than food. Anything to distract your thoughts will work. Prepare a list of ways to distract your thoughts so you aren't scrambling when a craving hits.

Here is a list of some of the ways I distract my thoughts:

  1. Refocus on the task at hand when the craving hit. If I'm in the mall running errands, I reconsider my list to determine if I missed any additional errands that need to be done.
  2. Google random questions. What happened to the actor who portrayed Jake from Sixteen Candles? What happened in the Lost finale?
  3. Go for a walk with a colleague to discuss non-food related topics. 

Step 2 is simple, distract your thoughts. But, in order for this to work you need to allow your brain to think about something else and forget about the food you are craving.

Don't over think it! Don't hold onto your craving – just let it go!

How do you distract your thoughts away from food?

Next post: How to handle a craving - Step 3: Reflect and prepare for the next craving

1 comment:

  1. I think, ultimately, the answer is NOT to think "kid food" and simply to buy/promote/condone those junk/non-food items. It is a big step not to think of ourselves living buy one set of rules and our families living by another set. We do have things in our house, from time to time, but I have gotten very good at pickings things where there is one serving each and then they are gone. My oldest is 23 and in grad school on east coast (2nd of 5year doc program). He cooks his own food and eats mostly whole foods. He eats slightly more carbs than I do. He also runs several miles a day year round. My middle is sophomore in undergrad and also has to REALLY watch it. It is important these kids know preventive actions/habits so they do not have to unlearn self sabotage behaviors. And so they do not gain weight they then have to lose.


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