Eating is often an emotional reaction, not one of hunger. Many of us have comfort foods that we turn to when we need some emotional snuggling. Family and friends can fail us - but food rarely does! Here are some ideas for when you get those comfort food cravings.
Drink some Water
Often we mis-interpret thirst signals for hunger. Since it's important anyway for us to drink ample water each day, pour yourself a large glass of water and begin drinking it. This will keep you occupied for a short while, and help you figure out if you really are hungry.
Do Something Active
We all have activities we enjoy. Have a collection of activities easily on tap that you can jump into. Have a list of local parks that you can easily go walk in. Have dance music in a playlist in iTunes that you can pop on and dance around to. Have a twist board by the TV. Have an exercise bike or treadmill before the TV. Have a yoga DVD that you can pop in and watch. The more options you have available, the more likely one of them will appeal to you at any given moment, even for just five or ten minutes.
The key is that exercise releases stress and sends feel-good chemicals to the brain. This will help you to get through the craving and feel better naturally.
Categorize your Craving
Usually if you crave something you are craving a sensation - sweet, sour, salty, bitter. Think about the nature of your craving and what category it falls into. Then find a more healthy version of that sensation. If you crave ice cream, have some frozen yogurt. If you crave salty chips, have some salty nuts.
Keep the House Clean of Temptation
A real key that ALL of us have found to be helpful is to simply not have "bad food" in the house. It is so true - if it's there, you will eat it. Donate all of the junk food to a homeless shelter. If you stock your home with easy, healthy treats, you will eat them. It's what you'll see, it's what you'll eat.
Do Something Absorbing
We all have activities that we get drawn into. Maybe it's a video game like Bejewelled or Sudoku. Maybe it's watching our favorite TV show. Maybe it's talking with a good friend. Again, have a list of options ready at hand. If you feel a craving, turn to one of your other feel-good hooks. Get into it with a glass water, and see if the craving dissipates.
Remember, your body rarely "needs" a specific food item. Chocolate only came into most cultures in the 1600s. French fries were popularized in World War II. Our body is not designed to "need" these things :) If you have developed emotional ties to these items during childhood, you can wean yourself off of them as well. It takes time - but it's well worth it!
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