The D’s of Dealing with Cravings: Part 1
You may or may not have heard about the Ds of Dieting. There are different variations of this phrase, including Decode/Determine, Delay, Distract, Distance, and Delight/Decide. These are all catchy tips to help you stay away from poor food choices. Although TriState Bariatrics doesn’t encourage “dieting” (mainly because people who go on a diet, eventually go off of one), we do believe in healthy eating that includes low carb/fat and lean protein as a lifestyle choice. This certainly means staying away from junk food and sugary foods. What can you do to resist those food cravings? You may feel like the refrigerator is calling you or may have a repetitive thought to drive to get something. When you get that nagging urge to eat something off your food plan, try to follow the Ds:
Decode First try to determine why you are having a certain food craving. This means asking a series of questions. Are you physically hungry? Your stomach growling does not always mean you need to eat, but may be a clue to tune into your body and think about the time of your last nutrition source. Did you eat enough protein throughout the day? Eating protein keeps you satisfied and helps ward off sugar cravings. Have you stayed adequately hydrated? Sometimes when you think you are hungry, you are actually thirsty. Try drinking some water (or your favorite sugar-free/low calorie beverage) and see if the craving goes away. Are you mentally hungry? Just because you want to eat, doesn’t mean you need to fuel up. The sight of food, others eating, or TV commercials may have put the idea in your mind. Certain emotions may make you want to eat, such as boredom, stress or sadness. If so, remind yourself that eating won’t help (at least not for very long) and may actually make you feel worse. Try journaling to get in touch with your feelings. If you’ve kept a food journal you might look back and see if some carbs are sneaking in that may be triggering your cravings. Overall, deciphering what the craving is about, may help you plan the next step.
Delay Put some time between the urge to eat to try to wait out the craving. In addiction terms this is called surfing the urge. The intensity of the craving may decrease if you wait it out. Set a timer for 15-20 min. You may also decide it’s not worth it to ruin your healthy food plan. Remember why you want to lose weight. Remember how you feel after you eat something. Go brush your teeth; the mint flavor in your mouth may make the taste of a certain food less desirable. Have a sugar-free ice pop or your favorite flavored sugar-free beverage. Try a substitute, for example, a chocolate protein shake if you are craving chocolate.
Try these strategies over the next few weeks until we talk about the next 3 Ds. Even if you end up eating a poor food choice, be sure to give yourself credit if you really tried resisting. Putting off the temptation is one step closer to success.