Cravings can happen to anyone, but they seem to strike more often when we’re following a weight loss plan. Maybe that’s because the forbidden fruit seems more alluring, or simply because you’re running a calorie deficit so you’re hungrier right now. Whatever the reason, battling cravings can present a challenge: Is it ever okay to give in to your cravings, and when? And how?
First, identify the source of your hunger. It’s important to learn the difference between physiological hunger and emotional hunger. Here are a few clues for each:
- Is a gradual feeling that builds
- You feel like you could wait a while, if needed
- Doesn’t trigger feelings of guilt
- You’re willing to eat whatever is available
- Happens suddenly
- Feels urgent
- Often brings feelings of guilt
- Applies only to a specific food
When a craving strikes, step back and evaluate whether you’re feeling physiological hunger or emotional hunger. Doing this will encourage mindful eating. You might sometimes still opt for a small indulgence during emotional hunger, but at least you’re aware of it. That’s the first step to breaking a bad habit.
Plan for it. If you crave a particular item on a regular basis, you might decide that it’s okay to give into those feelings occasionally. This isn’t necessarily a bad plan, since denying yourself completely can often lead to a total break with your eating plan. But plan for the indulgence ahead of time, so that you can make changes in your eating plan to accommodate it. If you’re going to have a scoop of ice cream Friday afternoon, you can focus extra hard on lean protein at lunch, for example.
Eat the food you actually want. There is no point to accommodating a craving only halfway, because you now you’ve added extra calories to your eating plan for the day, without enjoying any true satisfaction. So yes, if you decide to give in to a craving, go for the real deal over a less satisfying substitute. You’ll be satisfied by a smaller portion of the treat this way, and you’ll probably indulge less often.
Of course, the real key to indulging cravings is to make it an occasional treat; do it too often, and you’re simply straying from your eating plan.
For more information on a weight loss plan to achieve true lifestyle change, give us a call. We can help you understand which foods you should be eating on a regular basis, along with things like portion sizes and total calories. We also offer regular support for all of the different challenges that come along with weight loss, so that you can reach your goals healthfully.