Contributed by Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, LD , a Dietitian for DietsInReview.com, which provides the tools and information needed to shape a healthier you.
Have you ever wanted to eat something so badly that you felt overpowered by it? Food cravings are natural, but our "inner voices" sure know how to take over and steer us off the track of healthy eating.
Instead of actually enjoying the taste of a food, we get caught up in the emotions of satisfying a craving. There is no freedom in this kind of eating.
Cravings don't have to be bad. What matters is how you respond to them.
Let's take a look at how to healthfully handle cravings:
Reflect on the last time you had a memorable craving, what was the voice that you heard?
The Seductive Seller
"You know you want me... I'm so tasty... You deserve it... You worked so hard..."
The seductive seller accentuates all the positives of the food and none of the negatives. It preys on the mentality of food as a reward (a dieter's trap). If you respond mindlessly to the seduction of food, you rarely get the satisfaction you are looking for.
You may not even be looking for food, but rather a hug or a kiss - or even some sleep! Don't let the seductive seller sweet-talk you into something you will regret. Make sure when you choose to eat that you take your time and enjoy each and every bite.
The Inner Critic
"You are so weak... You fail at everything you do and you're going to fail at this, too..."
The inner critic is all about demoralizing and willpower-sapping motivation techniques. The self-hate it perpetuates is toxic to your well-being. Listening to these messages makes you more vulnerable to them.
Next time you hear the inner critic come out, confront it. Be aware that these are just words flowing through your mind. You don't have to follow them.
As I said above, cravings don't have to be bad. Just take control.
Recognize a craving when it comes on, and squash the voice and choose to take a mindful approach. Ask yourself, "Am I really hungry or am I looking for something else?" Maybe you need some rest, a hot bubble bath, or a little conversation with a close friend.
If you do feel hungry, or if you just want to respond to the craving even though you know you're not, it's okay.
Giving yourself permission to respond to a craving can be very liberating. Just make sure that you choose a reasonable portion size and really take the time to slow down and enjoy each wonderful bite.
Notice the taste and the pleasure it brings you. Experience it with all of your senses. You may not even finish it before feeling completely satisfied.
Taking a mindful approach to your cravings is a healthy way of living a life you deserve. So, the next time you have a craving, embrace it!