Thursday, February 28, 2013

Instant Gratification and Cravings

This post is personal for me because I very much suffer from the need of instant gratification. When I have a craving for something, it is very hard to tell myself to wait and eat something else instead or even just to wait and have it the next day. I feel as though I am denying myself something so important and I will never get it back. A bit dramatic considering we are only talking about a chocolate bar or a donut or a glass of chocolate milk ... whatever it may be, I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who has experienced this feeling. It's a "Gotta have it right now!" kind of thing that somehow seems to take over your whole body and all of your thoughts until you give in.

Unfortunately, I also tend to live by the "all or nothing" approach and once I do give in to that temptation, it's so much harder for me to bounce back. I end up smashing the whole tea set just because I chipped one cup. It doesn't make sense does it? But in that moment, I feel like I have failed and there is no going back. Until tomorrow. There is something magical about "tomorrow", isn't there? Tomorrow is where all of our hopes for success lie ... but tomorrow doesn't always come. I seem to get stuck in "today" and can't quite get to the land of "tomorrow" where I can finally say "NO!" to that donut and get back on track to getting healthy.

I'm not saying to give up though. Instead, I'm going to give you some of my tips and tricks. I know I just said I still struggle with this, and I imagine that I always will to some extent, but at the same time, I know I haven't been giving a full effort to help myself out either. So before throwing in the towel, try some of these tips and see if they work for you!

As in the picture above, there are options to:
1. Work out/ Go for a walk - Exercise is known to be an appetite suppressant, so getting up and going for a short walk may do more for you than you realize, and I bet you are not going to want to dig into that donut after you sweat your booty off with a workout either. 
2. Drink a glass of water - A lot of times a person thinks that they are craving something but really they are just dehydrated. So next time you are feeling the cravings, try drinking some water and wait and see if it helps. If you still feel hungry, then you probably are, but try to make a healthy choice, which leads me to #3.

3. Eat a salad - This does not include chemical dressings and the entire fridge poured on top. It doesn't have to be a salad either. But many times, people have cravings because they are lacking a key nutrient. Make sure your salad, snack, or meal contains the important 3's: protein, healthy carbohydrate, and healthy fat. If you do this, you will feel satisfied and I bet your cravings will disappear too!

4. Paint your nails/Write a letter/ Play guitar/ Braid your hair - I'm not much for painting my nails (I can never seem to stay in the lines!), but the idea here is to do something with your hands so you are distracted and can't sit and mindlessly eat. This can be anything you want it to be. The key is to find something you enjoy so you don't just sit there and think about the cookies in the other room!

5. Imagine yourself at your goal weight - This is simple. Think about all of the reasons why you want it. And all of the things you'd like to change. Imagine being there for your daughter's wedding, being able to fit into those skinny jeans, or not having to make excuses when you're out of breath taking a flight of stairs at work. The goals you have are what motivate you. Keep reminders of them wherever you can, so you know what you are working towards.

6. Put on a pair of tight pants - This is pretty straight forward too. You can't binge if you can't breathe! Ever try sitting down to munch on a whole bag of chips and dip when your jeans are digging into your middle, pushing out that lovely, jiggly jello, also known as the "muffin top"? It's not fun and it's not easy. You just literally can't do it. It will also help you stay motivated if you know that those chips are the reason why you can't fit into those jeans anymore.

7. Crave Control Plus - This is actually something you can buy. It is from one of my favorite resources: Nutritional Weight and Wellness. They promote food first, but also recommend supplements to help you along the way, if needed. The thought behind this is that it contains the important nutrients that calm your body so you don't experience the craving attacks so intensely, thus making it easier to control them. It is also designed to help for a while until you get your food balanced out and eventually you won't need it anymore. I have tried it and I did notice a difference in myself while taking it.

8. Psyllium Husk - This is another supplement, but this one is more to help you feel full. If you are having an empty day, where you just can't seem to feel full, this supplement helps you feel satisfied and forget your hunger. It works this way because it is fiber and fiber in your food is what makes you feel full. This you can order online or find in most pharmacies. I believe that it comes in capsules or as a powder, but I have only tried the capsule version. Just follow the directions on the back.

9. Break out the gum or toothbrush - I am normally not an advocate of gum, but sometimes just having something in your mouth helps. And especially if it is minty because not a lot of foods go well with mint. It will most likely take away your cravings because it tricks you into thinking about pizza (or whatever you are craving) with tooth paste/mint ... and I don't know about you, but that just doesn't sound great! 

10. Call a friend - If you are talking to a friend then they can help talk you out of the cravings, it will get your mind off of it, and you will be less likely to shove things into your mouth if you are busy talking with it. So call a friend, call a few friends, until the cravings subside.

There you have it! So pick one, pick two, or use all ten tips and avoid those cravings. It has been proven that having visual aids around will noticeably affect your overall success too. So the more reminders you have, the more likely you are to stay on track. So tape up notes by your desk and on your refrigerator. Put a post-it on your TV to tell you to get on the treadmill instead. And keep your water by you to remind you to drink up!

Some sources say to just have a taste of whatever you are craving, but that doesn't work for me, so I didn't want to share it. If I have a bite, I end up eating the whole thing. So that is not on my list of recommendations. It may work for you, but I only share the things that have worked for me personally. 

If you have more tips you'd like to share, I would love to know what works for you, so please share! And don't forget to pat yourself on the back when you do manage to say "No!" to your cravings and get rid of that nasty instant gratification habit. It's a major accomplishment and should be rewarded ... just not with pizza!

Bonus: Preventative Tips

To avoid getting hit with the cravings in the first place, there are a couple of things you can do:
  • Get enough sleep. This is so important. Sufficient sleep is key in your weight loss. Your body simply does not make what it needs to when it doesn't get a chance to rest enough and deep enough. 
  • Avoid stress. Stress has also been known to cause cravings because it creates too much cortisol in the body. 
  • Avoid fasting. If you go long spurts between eating, your blood sugar dips and when your blood sugar is low, candy bars look tempting and it's almost impossible to say no. Your body sees the candy bar, almost pure sugar, and knows it will raise the blood sugar. You feel great afterwards, but what goes up must go down. A great spike in blood sugar, caused by the candy bar, will only lead to a drop in blood sugar once that sugar is burned off. So stick to eating balanced meals at regular intervals to avoid this unhealthy cycle.

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