Monday, October 11, 2010

Curbing Cravings

How to have a healthy lifestyle will differ from person to person. Over the years, I've read numerous accounts and tried to follow different dietary plans, all for the sake of leading a healthier lifestyle. I've found, however, that it is IMPOSSIBLE to follow any particular plan to the letter, because let's face it, cultural differences and food preferences will push us toward certain food items and not others. Maybe you can relate? Here I'd like to talk about an uncontrollable craving of mine and how I learned to deal with this gnawing irritation. Maybe it will prove helpful for you as well!

As some of you know might have picked up from my previous posts on desserts, you'll know that I have a sweet tooth. I love desserts, chocolate, candy, everything! Walking into a candy store is like a dream come true. Spending the day in a chocolate factory in Switzerland is like heaven. Over the years I've learned some tricks and know how to control my cravings a little bit better. Here's what worked for me.

My Sweet Tooth Solution
  1. Restriction. This is the worst part and also the hardest to enforce. The trick is to limit yourself access to the object of your craving. How? There are many ways--including practicing a little self-discipline, asking someone to be your enforcer, convincing yourself to stop due to health reasons, imagining some future pain like visiting the dentists due to toothaches, etc.
  2. Don't buy any snacks, especially not in bulk or large packages. Having food readily available in the cupboard is a sure disaster for self discipline and control. By not having the food or snack in your direct line of vision, you'd be forced to deal with your cravings in other ways, rather than immediately satisfying these desires on the spot.
  3. Express your craving. In other words, never suppress or ignore it, because it will always bite you in the end. This could be one reason why some people can follow a diet to the letter but later binge and end up worse than where they started. If you are craving something, express it, either in words, in writing or over the Internet (using Twitter, Facebook or Blogging, etc.) For those of you who read my tweets, you will remember that I have cravings all the time. The verbalization and actually seeing the pictures of the food that I crave can lessen the strength of that craving a whole lot. Sometimes we put things into our mouth by habit. Often when we express the things that we desire, half of the thrill will have been consumed by the efforts we put into expressing that desire, and consequently the urgency to consume now decreases.
  4. If a particular craving persists, satisfy it. I think it'd be abusive if you were to deny yourself all the pleasures in life, especially something that you love. So if you find that even after writing down or verbalizing your cravings, it persists, then the right way of action is to satisfy yourself. 
  5. Plan and anticipate. By making a plan and giving yourself plenty of time to anticipate it will increase the amount of satisfaction you will derive from the entire experience. A concrete example of this is when I had a huge craving for a delicious home-made cupcake--especially the kind found at Crumbs Baked Goods. I tweeted and tweeted but alas I could not get the image of a sumptuous cupcake out of my mind, so finally I made a plan. I will go to a Crumbs store and get that cupcake! I checked the website and read reviews, finally, I planned that I will get the Caramel Apple cupcake. Because I have a concrete plan of when I plan to satisfy this craving, all other encounters of sweets and desserts were not able to tempt me to deviate from my plan (i.e. I didn't want any other cupcake except the one that I had planned on getting!) I was able to stave myself off by telling myself that the best is yet to come. Finally, when I got to enjoy my delicious Crumbs cupcake, it was the most delicious moment, I felt so satisfied afterward and really didn't have any more intense cravings of cupcakes or any other sweets at least five days later.
The important thing is to live like there is no tomorrow, but eat like the more delicious food is yet to come. So don't sell yourself short by putting any sweets or craving into your mouth, pick and choose the one that you want, then plan and consume it with the gusto and anticipation that it deserves to receive. Not only will you be happier, your body will thank you in the long run!


    1. I am trying to eat healthier so I am loving this!!!


    2. Thanks for the tips...

      I always try to lessen my sweets intake
      but I always fail miserably:)
      I love sweets so much to give it up...maybe just a little giving up would do:)