Dealing with cravings

Q: How do I deal with cravings?

A: Some researchers speculate that cravings are driven by the body's attempt to acquire the nutrients it lacks. "Carbohydrate cravings can simply be from hunger because your blood sugar levels are too low," says Susan Schiffman, Ph.D., professor of medical psychology at Duke University Medical Center.

Seven Tips for Managing Cravings:

1. Drink water!
This is my favorite tip. In my training career, many clients have reported cravings for sugary or salty foods disappearing after following my recommendation that they drink a glass of water before indulging. The hunger mechanism is well perceived so the body can send hunger pangs when you are mildly dehydrated in an attempt to get you to drink something. After all most people have a beverage with food. Try a tall glass of water with a squeeze of lemon before you indulge. If it goes away, your body simply needed some fluids.

2. Cleanse your palate.
Stop eating your trigger foods and allow your cravings to weaken. Studies have shown that what you eat often is what you crave.

3. Get rid of the evidence.
When you've given in to a craving but "come to your senses", destroy it! Put it in the bottom of the garbage, pour water or salt on it. Make it undesirable so you do go back to it. You might "waste" the money, but you'll save your hips.

4. Brush your teeth.
Might sound crazy but when your teeth feel clean you don't really want to cookie dough or potato chip bits to mess it up.

5. Plan or avoid.
Sitting with friends who order mountains of fries or huge desserts while you sip water can be excruciating when your new habits are in their infancy. If you don't want to be the odd person out, share a dessert with the group or order a low cal dish like sherbert or fresh fruit. If all else fails avoid such settings until you have your routine down pat.

6. Give yourself permission.
This goes back to planning. Schedule your cheat (aka treat) days. No one expects you to abstain from the foods that you love but aren't good for your waistline indefinitely. Enjoy your treats in moderation and occasionally.

7. Give yourself ten minutes.
Cravings usually last a short time. Get up and get busy. If you're truly hungry and not simply eating emotionally or out of boredom you'll know.

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