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How to Cope With Food Cravings - Part 1 of 2: Chocolate, Chips and You

May 07, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 132

Recently my daughter, Cara and I joined a Curves location in upstate New York. The workout is great and incredibly doable, but I'd have to be honest when I say that the best part of it all is the fact that there is a hand-dipped chocolate shop right next door. So after our workout on Thursday we slipped in to take a peek.

As Cara and I glanced at the mountains of yummy chocolates and sweets piled high on the trays behind the glass showcase, we decided which of them we wanted to take home. I smiled, thinking for a moment how wonderful it feels, having such great freedom knowing that neither of us feels compelled to eat them all because we don't consider them a temptation anymore.

We selected about 20 different varieties of confections including my favorites; chocolate covered potato chips, dark chocolate covered maraschino cherries, milk chocolate pretzels, dark chocolate covered graham crackers with jelly and smore bars. With the exception of having a chocolate potato chip and 2 of the covered cherries that day in the car, and a chocolate covered apricot and a chocolate graham yesterday, I haven't even thought about eating what we bought. The unopened box of the majority of the chocolates is sitting on my counter and there are still several cellophane bags of miscellaneous chocolates within easy reach. But they're not calling my name.

But that's my favorite food...

My relationship with chocolate wasn't always so easygoing. I used to feel crazed around chocolate, chips or any kind of fattening food because being, on a diet, I never allowed myself to eat the foods I really wanted, so sweets of all kinds became my go-to cheat.

Then in those days whenever I ended up giving into my cravings, I always used to overindulge and hate myself afterwards. The guilt of giving in again, made the shame I felt so strong that I'd swear them off again for several months at a time. But inevitably once the feelings of deprivation got so bad, it was always my chocolate craving that grabbed me by the throat, making it impossible to say, "no" anymore. How 'bout you?

You probably know what I'm talking about when I say cravings are tough to handle. Most of us experience overwhelming urges to consume many foods that we try our best to avoid. Whether the reasons are medical restriction, dietary, nutrition or a combination of several factors, eating the food will often cause you more pain and suffering than not eating it. But it's very easy to forget that when you're wrapped up in the moments of pleasure before the consequence of eating the food really hits you.

Rising above the cultural view of overeating

In our culture, people view being overweight and giving into our cravings as being some kind of a character flaw. It becomes a moral issue if you eat something that you're told that you shouldn't. And the result is you end up feeling badly about yourself when you give in and eat. That 'feeling bad feeling' you may have felt comes from experiencing a sense of great shame for being judged and shame is a powerful emotional that can often trigger feelings of insecurity and fear. Makes you want to run and eat just thinking about being vulnerable. Doesn't it?

So that's why it's not fair to judge yourself harshly, call yourself names or to be okay with letting anyone else put you down when you overeat. Remember this: What you eat and how much you weigh doesn't speak to the kind of person you are. You're not a bad person if you eat/want to eat cheesecake for breakfast, and you don't gain brownie points if you chomp on celery and carrot sticks all day long. What you eat is not a determination of who you are.

Basic traditional methods of coping with your cravings

Avoidance - Because it creates so much stress in the body, it's almost impossible to will your way through a craving. In our culture, people view being overweight and giving into our cravings as being a character flaw. It becomes a moral issue and we tend to feel bad when we overeat.

In their book, "Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works", authors, Evelyn Resch, M.S.R.D. F.A.D.A and Evelyn Tribole, M.S.R.D. talk about the importance of making peace with food explaining it as follows: "Call a truce; stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can't or shouldn't have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often bingeing. When you finally "give in" to your forbidden foods, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating and overwhelming guilt."

Distraction - Go for a walk, take a bubble bath, do whatever you can to think about something else. This may or may not work, usually it just forestalls the craving and it comes back later stronger than ever.

Chew gum - Chew a stick of gum for 15 minutes. This is a variation on the distraction suggestion above because it occupies your brain long enough to get past thinking about and obsessing about what you crave.

Smell peppermint - Surround yourself with the scent of peppermint. A study showed that people who sniffed peppermint throughout their day were able to avoid giving in to their cravings. It seems the powerful scent diverts your brain away from the desire to eat. I'm a big fan of the portable scents that you can plug into your electrical outlets at home. One of my favorites is Chocolate Peppermint.

Your Big Why! - Behind every goal that you set there is a reason why you chose it. By connecting with the reason why it's so important for you to avoid the food your body wants, it can make it easier to say, "No."

Patience - This is similar to the distraction method in that you try to ignore the craving and do your best not to think about it. Waiting it out sometimes works, other times, not so much. Usually your desire to eat the food will come back with a new level of ferocity. Shall we say, mind over matter?

What are cravings and where do they come from?

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a craving is an intense, urgent or abnormal desire or longing for something. Let's talk food. Scientific studies have shown that 50% of our problem with obesity is genetic. That means that 50% of us are having an extra hard time fighting our bodies trying to resist the urge to eat foods that we crave.

Your cravings are hard-wired into your genetic makeup. Back in prehistoric times when we lived in caves, we had to rely on our ability to hunt and scavenge for food. It was our craving to eat and our will to survive that drove us out of the safety of the cave and made it essential to go out and fight the elements to acquire that next meal.

But we weren't always successful in capturing the prey and our bodies knew instinctively that whenever we were lucky enough to get a substantial calorie dense meal, we had to eat as much of it as we could to compensate for the times when it was not available. The threat of starvation and death was always just around the corner. But your body today doesn't realize that times have changed and that there's a burger joint and donut palace on every street corner. So your body is still acting like it's starving, triggering those cravings to eat. The onus is on 50% of us to resist our biological urge to eat.

Then beyond that tangled mess of resisting our physical urges, for many of us cravings are further complicated by being emotion-based.

Cravings are unmet emotional needs in disguise

If you feel enslaved by any food it's probably because your urge to eat it is connected with a powerful association in your brain that tells you that you'll get more pleasure out of eating it than not. For many people there's no denying the fact that there is a connection between what they feel and what they want to eat. Emotional eating is when you eat in response to stress. Many times we're tired and cranky and that's when we're least resourceful, making it very difficult to choose foods that are balanced and healthy. The thing is food doesn't really have the ability to make you feel as good as you may think it does. That's because it's really just food. And all the little bits and bites of your favorite goodies won't heal a broken heart, don't have ears to listen, can't give you what you really need. Love. Only you can give that to yourself. But that takes a lot more than just wrapping your arms around yourself. That's only surface stuff and although it may look and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside for a moment, that quick hit of 'I love me' feeling doesn't last when the chips are down and you're feeling blue or lonely or hating the way someone's been treating you.

Stop Dieting: Self-acceptance begins with making peace with all foods

When I first realized that my out-of-control hunger and desperate cravings for junk food were the result of feeling deep hurt and pain in areas of my life where I felt I had no control, that's when I knew that my overeating was being driven by my emotions. My life changed when I made the decision to stop dieting. That's when I broke the cycle of thinking of my weight issue as the problem. When I realized that it was only a symptom, I began to change my life and take steps to empower myself in every way possible.

I stopped thinking of my plus size body as being ugly and I began to learn how to dress myself to feel good now. I took steps to overcome all the limiting beliefs that were really holding me back. I stopped procrastinating and putting off living and began to get things done that made me feel good in the moment. I began to learn how to ask for what I needed, demand what I wanted, and set boundaries with other people and myself. I stopped talking about what I was going to do and did things. I found groups of women who thought the same way I did and enjoyed their support and encouragement. I did things for myself that took me out of my old victim mentality and made me proud of the woman I am.

At the core of all those changes, I had to use stress relief techniques to continually reset my thinking about what was possible for me. I forgave others who hurt me so that I could finally live free myself. As I began to think and 'see' myself as a different person from the inside, that's when my relationship with food and my body began to transform.

Over the years as I've refined my discoveries, I've been teaching other women how to do the same. Through the Losing Weight without Dieting program that I've created I give my clients the tools they need to learn how to feel safe and sane around all foods. One of my favorite tools is called intuitive eating; learning how to eat in response to your body's natural hunger. When you know that you can eat whatever you want, when you want it, food begins to lose its power over you. Coupling that with teaching my clients how to deal with the daily stress in their lives, makes it easier to get thinner without dieting. My absolute favorite go to stress relief method that I use myself and teach all my clients is called Emotional Freedom Technique.

Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT is a simple easy-to-do stress relief process you can learn to do yourself anywhere. Based on the science of acupuncture, you tap on different parts of your face and hands to stimulate relaxation points in your body. You do this while thinking about or naming the problem of whatever is upsetting you.

You can use this method to successfully cope with your cravings. It works better and more effectively than all the above suggestions combined because it helps you to balance the energy in your body in such a way that the source of the emotion and even the physical imbalance that is likely driving your craving gets neutralized. In the next article in this series, I'll teach you how to apply it to cravings.

Until then, my best suggestion for dealing with your cravings is to eat the food you love and commit to loving your imperfect self, no matter what, warts and all. May seem crazy and totally impossible, but I'll teach you how to do it. I consider myself an expert on the topic of body acceptance. After all, I did write the book,"Lovin' the Skin You're In" Can't wait to share everything I know about the how to's of it all because as my recent trip to the chocolate shop shows, you can have your cake, chocolate and chips and eat it too! Stay tuned for Part 2 and I'll show you how.

And if you're a woman who is tired of feeling out of control around food, enslaved by your cravings and hating your body, and you want to know how you, too can eat chocolate and chips and all the goodies you love and get thinner slowly without ever dieting again, then read Andrea's Juicy Woman blog at

And to get a free 63 page excerpt of her new book, "Lovin' the Skin You're In: The Juicy Woman's Guide to Making Peace with Food and Friends with Your Body," go to

Source: EzineArticles
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Andrea Amador


The Juicy Woman


Emotional Freedom Technique




Self Esteem

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