Dear cravings: I hate you.

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I have a very important question. Why is it that our body craves food that is bad for us instead of craving healthy things? I wish it were easier to NOT give in to cravings. I’m having trouble understanding why my body can’t just be intelligent and say to me “you’re hungry, but you only THINK you’re craving chocolate. What you really want is some nuts, legumes or fruits. Go crazy with that instead!” Is that so difficult, body?

I know that part of the reason is because of the society we live in today. I grew up in world where fast food was hugely popular, and my family never paid particular attention to eating AMAZING. I always ate my fruits & veggies, but I got to indulge as a kid a lot more than I probably should have. I realize that my body is USED to eating a certain way and it’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of effort for my body to say “no, not chocolate. Something else that has magnesium like fruits”.

It’s still hard, though. Even knowing exactly what I do wrong; knowing exactly when I indulge & the exact things that I need to do to make a change. It’s HARD. I love eating well, I really do, and I’ve made so many changes for myself in the past year… But sometimes? I just want to eat some chips and not feel guilty. The harder I try to eat well, the guiltier I feel. I put so much effort into making healthy food choices that the times I give into a craving feels like a waste.

Last week in my health post, I talked about my BIG FIVE. My five problems that I’ve noticed the most that I want to change for the better. My second problem? I give in to cravings way too easily. This week, I tried to keep my big five problems in mind at all times, and it worked a little bit. It’s a work in progress, but I see the progress part which is good. Here’s how I’ve been working on each problem:

A) I still drink too much coffee

This week, I made a conscious effort to cut down. I still had a day or two where I drank three cups of coffee, because of school or other stress… But on other days I just had the one cup that I want to eventually get back to for good. The only problem is that the day I had ONE cup? I became super irritable and annoyed about everything. I wasn’t really craving caffeine or having withdrawal, but I felt like if I just got another coffee life would be better. Like I said, work in progress.

B) I give in to my cravings WAY too easily

This definitely isn’t something that’s going to change in a matter of days. I’m aware of my cravings though, and I become more & more aware of the things that make me feel gross after I eat them, the more I aim for better eating habits. This week, I tried a little something different. Every time I was craving something (chocolate, chips) I would indulge, but just for a moment. I would be aware of how much I was eating, and then just stop, wait 5 minutes to see if I was still hungry, and if I was, go get a healthy snack instead. I felt so much better after doing this!

C) I don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables

I’m definitely trying to up my fruits & veggies intake, but it’s an expensive thing. This week I went out of my way to make a salad for myself that I knew I’d love (yummy Greek salad!) and I also bought little fruits to put in my yogurt. Since I’m loving the tomatoes/cheese combo lately, I bought more of those and had that for a simple lunch or dinner when I was just a little hungry for something quick to make. While studying, I made a more conscious effort to snack on an apple or some grapes instead of a usual more mindless and less healthy snack. Now I just need to get to the grocery store and re-stock the fridge!

D) I don’t drink enough water

Often as I get ready for school or work, I completely forget to bring bottled water with me, which is the ONLY way I’ll remember to actually drink anything in a day at all. I can go all day without drinking water, and then just have a glass with dinner or something. This week I made a conscious effort to pack a bottle and to keep it on my desk or in my reach so that I remembered to sip at it all day. I definitely felt better even with that extra bottle each day! I need to leave a bottle at my desk in my room now, because while I sit here I forgot to drink anything besides coffee. Out of sight out of mind, apparently!

E) I let myself snack until too late in the evening

I was really good with this one all week. The only time I snacked in the evening was after getting home really late from work one night- but I kept the snack super simple. Just some veggies and cheese, and I stayed up for another hour or two to digest! I also made sure to be FULL at dinner and I tried to just forget about eating entirely afterwards, which seemed to help. I didn’t really eat anything after 7-8 all week and felt much better in the mornings.

It feels really good to see that I’ve actually been WORKING on my big five. I love seeing that I can get better, one little thing at a time. I’m NOWHERE near where I’d like to be for any of my goals yet, but my constant awareness at what goes into my body has been really helpful.

This week, besides always thinking of the five goals above, I’d like to do the following:

Find time for exercise. When I was going to a gym this summer, I felt GREAT. I never regretted waking up for a work-out or taking the time out of my schedule for it. I’ll be honest, I have not made ANY time for exercise since getting home from Greece. It’s been a “maybe tomorrow” thing for the last 3 months. How shameful. I know that by exercising, I’ll feel more motivated to eat better, which will help my goals. Plus, I still have a LivingSocial coupon for 25 fitness classes that are CALLING MY NAME. Also, I quite miss fitness classes. I had so much fun doing them!

Instead of indulging for a little bit in my cravings and THEN going for a healthy snack, I’d like to do them the other way around. When I crave chocolate, I’ll go get a fruit. No exceptions. If I’m still hungry, I’ll try something else. I want to go for the healthy option first. Awareness was the first part, but now it’s time to put it into practice.

What are your craving indulgences like? Do you always give in, or do you reach for the healthier option?

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12 responses »

  1. I crave chocolate and soda and carbs like WHOA. It’s bad, really bad sometimes. I don’t feel like I snack when I’m not hungry but I do think I don’t eat foods that are filling enough to last me longer than 2-3 hours.

    I learned this in a WW meeting about waiting 10 minutes when a craving hits to figure out if you’re really hungry or just bored. If you’re still hungry 10 minutes later, eat something but if not, it was probably simply boredom compelling you to crave something. I’m actually good at listening to my hunger cues and eating only when I’m truly hungry, but again, sometimes what I’m feeding my body isn’t what is going to KEEP it full. 🙂

    • That is a REALLY great tip. I actually used it today. I was gonna go eat something and was like WAIT 10 minutes! And then I didn’t end up eating anything. So thank you! 🙂

  2. I have a lot of trouble with giving in to my cravings. Especially when I’m stressed; I know I’m a bit of an emotional eater. Food is such a comfort sometimes! I’m trying hard not to feel guilty any more. The guilt over giving in is counterproductive. Now, when I eat something that’s bad, I change my inner monologue a bit. Instead of “this is terrible, you shouldn’t be eating this, why are you eating this?”, I tell myself “I’m choosing to eat this and I’m going to enjoy it”. I can find a way to feel guilty about almost anything I eat (even if it’s fairly healthy), and that (in my mind) is the bigger problem.

    As for cravings, I just try to substitute. If I’m craving something bad I’ll try eating a piece of fruit or some carrot sticks, or sometimes just drink a glass of water. Once I’ve done that my cravings have often subsided. If not, well…I do give in more often than I should. It’s always a work in progress.

    • The substitution thing is definitely the best idea I think. It’s what I try to do as often as possible. I’d love to say that I ALWAYS substitute a craving for fruit, but that’s just not true. Definitely working on it though!

      Thanks for the comment 🙂

  3. There are actually scientific reasons why you crave the foods you do 🙂 In the “wild,” it’s almost impossible to find naturally salty or sweet foods, so your body is programmed to crave those things. Your body needs moderate amounts of sugar and salt 🙂 This is one of the big hurdles that’s hard to overcome when you’re trying to eat healthier…sugary and salty foods tap directly into your pleasure center and that’s hard to say no to 🙂 But it’s doable, it’s all about changing your routine. I’m wishing you luck, my dear!

  4. I am one of the weirdos that actually craves fruit and hates chocolate. You’d think that would make it easier, but still no. Because I also crave Grand Slams from Denny’s all day every day 😀

    • I am so jealous of you, ah! I mean, SOMETIMES I crave fruit, but it is my dream to crave that over chocolate. I don’t have a Denny’s where I’m from, but I’m assuming a Grand Slam is something not good for you? That makes me feel a LITTLE bit better, hehe 🙂

  5. Oh do I know these feelings. I have been doing terribly with the eating healthily thing as of late, something I am generally moderately successful with and actually enjoy. So! I’ve decided to do things in my the same way. It’s apples and PB, lots of water and salads fullfullfull of awesomeness for me – hopefully it lasts.

    Best of luck to you! 🙂

  6. Oh man, I hear you about the coffee and the water.
    I actually don’t drink that much coffee – I figure it’s one cup total every day (maybe 1,5) when I subtract all the milk that I put in my coffee. My problem is not the caffeine, it’s the comfort. Coffee is a comfort-drink for me and I think I’d get more irritable when I can’t have it because of that and not because of caffeine-withdrawal.

    Water is the other problem – I can go a whole day without drinking anything and then drinking just one glass with dinner. That equals BAD. I’m trying to make a conscious effort to drink more, starting with a glass (or two) of water before i even leave the house in the morning. I have to force myself, but that way I am already ahead of the game. Then I drink about two glasses of tea at work and another two glasses of water in the evening…. that’s a start 🙂

    Keep up your good work!

  7. Can we say how horrible holiday specific candy is? Seriously I just get rid of my Halloween candy corn coma and then flavored candy canes come out? HOW CAN A GIRL SURVIVE?

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