Everyone has food cravings. For me it’s during the time after supper, before the kids are in bed, during that time when I often have a thousand things to get done but what I’d really love is to just curl up on the couch with a good novel and a bag of chips. Or a handful of cookies. Even a bowl of popcorn. You get the idea.
It can be agonizing, these cravings. I recognize most of mine for what they are: avoidance techniques! And even if I have to fold these six loads of laundry that are completely obliterating my couch, I would rather eat and taste that yummy chocolate melting in my mouth while I do so.
1. No mindless munching
So the number one trick that works for me in avoiding adding an extra bazillion unnecessary calories every time I’m facing a boring, repetitive, or unpleasant task is to promise myself I won’t snack while doing something else. No mindless munching! No movie snacks, no candies during email, no laundry-folding Doritos. It sounds harsh, but it doesn’t mean no snacking, it just means no mindless snacking. If I’m going to give in to a food craving, I’m going to at least enjoy it for it’s own merits. I might go all out by making my favorite hot tea and selecting two luscious cookies to enjoy with it. Even the process of preparing my treat calms the frazzle and helps me get in a better frame of mind.
2. Count your treats
So sometimes I do allow myself treats; if I didn’t I would go crazy. The key here is to not eat out of the bag; an entire family-sized bag of Cheetos may not last very long if I keep it open next to me. Instead, I measure a single serving out into a bowl, close the bag, return it to the pantry, and leave the room with my snack. I know one person who keeps her candy wrappers in a jar on her desk to remind herself of just how many of her treats she’s eaten that day or that week.
3. Include some protein
Treats that are all empty sugars and carbs are hard on your system. Fast/processed foods tell your body “I’m hungry!” without ever satisfying all the little chemicals that rush out to process a meal. So of course you go back for more snack foods, trying in vain to quell the chemical reactions you’ve set up with your first taste of sugar and carbohydrate. The only cure for this is to make your treats just a little healthier. Try adding some protein — nuts, seeds, natural peanut butter (no sugar), a slice of canadian bacon or a cheese stick — to your snack. The protein will help keep your system from feeling like a runaway train.
Sometimes I eat more just because I haven’t satisfied a particular jones. Often this is related to chocolate, of which I’m a bit of a connoisseur. So I’ve stopped buying myself cheap, crappy chocolates, and instead I’ll spend a bit more to treat myself to a real, luxurious dark chocolate with the flavor and consistency that I love. That means I might pay $8 for a Vosges Red Fire bar with Ceylon cinnamon, Mexican ancho and chipotle chillies. And I will make each beautiful square last as loooong as possible!
These are some of my tricks and techniques; but I’m sure you have your own methods as well. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me how you handle your food cravings!
Image credit: koonisutra on Flickr