You’ve been good all day. You ate breakfast, lunch and dinner. And they were all reasonably healthy meals. You ate fruit and drank mostly the recommended daily amounts of water. Even went on a 30 minute walk during your lunch break. You’ve finished with all your stuff for the day… You’ve planted yourself on the sofa, probably watching teve while surfing the internet at the same time. And then…
The cravings kick in.
You need to eat… something. Anything. But something sweet preferably. Maybe… just a cookie. Just the one. Or, one scoop of ice cream. You’ve done so well during the day! One little cookie isn’t going to hurt. You are a bit bored, despite several medias going on at the same time in front of you. And you are off, there is forces stronger than you at work, and you go and grab that allowed cookie. You go sit down in front of your teve again and eat your cookie. You did good. Didn’t bring the entire box over. And then…
The cravings will just not die down! One cookie didn’t do any good.
You get another cookie… and then it’s just a downhill slope from there and before the night is over, that box will be empty. You don’t even know how it happened, all of a sudden you were grasping thin air when reaching for another cookie. You actually feel a little… sick, come to think of it. A bit “sugar-over-load-icky”. And guilty. But tomorrow – you will control yourself! You don’t want to feel this guilty again, and that sugar-over-load isn’t very pleasant either. Tomorrow, for sure, will be different!
Recognize any of this? Well, I know I do! Late night snacking is for sure my downfall. Here are how I try to get the upper hand when the cravings gone out of control.
1. Recognize its power over you
You need to know and respect the power of the “craving-alien” that wakes up at that time in the evening. It’s a very, very strong force not to be taken lightly! You shouldn’t feel guilty if you lose, and you will need to plan if you want to beat it. Many studies emphasis that these sugar-cravings topped with emotional eating, stress eating etc are to be put together in the same bracket as heroin and nicotine addiction. It’s not as easy as tabloids have us believe, you probably can’t “just stop”. We all know we should stop, we all know it’s unhealthy, but we just can’t stop. It’s a process.
2. Find a substitute
Depending what your weak spot is – and why you eat it – the substitute can be a million things. Are you stress eating, eating out of boredom, emotional eating? Is it ice cream, or cookies, or chocolate, or candy, or chips, or donuts, or…? You need to find something a little less unhealthy that can act as a replacement. This is what I do. For me, its satisfying bordom vs a sweet tooth. And my achilles heel is donuts. I try to have nuts, dried cranberries, strawberries and dates at my disposal to eat instead. It works most of the time. But you need to find what you and your body can accept as a substitute. You will have to go trial and error on this.
3. Face it out
Some people can go cold turkey. I would say that it is only for a few – and I would recommend facing it out. If you start telling yourself that you never can eat chocolate again – your entire body is going in to resistance-mode, making it even harder. Reward yourself with ice cream on friday night if you manage to not eat ice cream monday-thursday? Find a system that works for you. And also, there is no such thing as a perfect diet. NO ONE can uphold eating perfectly every day, all day, year around, year in and out. It’s ok to go for the cheese and crackers once in a while, to have a drink, enjoy an ice cream on a warm summers day. We need to live, treat ourselves, enjoy life – but these things should be “sometimes food” and we need to view eating healthy as enjoyable and not a punishment. I usually advice against aiming for a very low body fat percentage. Unless it’s for competition prep. Because I don’t think you’ll enjoy the life-style going with it. Sure, you’ll have abs one can grate cheese on, but is it really worth it?
4. Don’t buy it
Simply just don’t have any of those items in your house. You will resort to your healthier options instead if you are desperate enough. And if your unhealthy options are sitting there in the kitchen – you will probably not even remember that you bought all those unsalted cashews that you are supposed to happily nibble on instead.
5. Don’t eat in front of the teve/computer/smart phone/tablet
You aren’t even registering that you are doing it! You could probably start with that one cookie and then just continue with some apple slices. Eating in front of the teve etc is proven to make you eat so much more because you aren’t registering how much you are eating. If you are having that bowl of ice cream – go and sit at the kitchen table, turn off all distractions and really be mindful when you eating. Enjoy it! Let your brain properly register that it’s getting what it wants.
6. Address the route of your emotional/stress eating
It’s not going to fix itself over night this one. And you might not even wanna go there. But if you need to eat a box of chocolate coming home from work to wind-down, and this is regularly occurring/happening every workday – then you need to change something in your working life. If you can see that a situation is going to be “passing” I would perhaps say that go for it. Sometimes in our lives we need to focus on coping and not obsess about figures. If you just broke up with your fiancée, I think eating 10 donuts and 2 tubs of ice cream in a day is completely acceptable for a shorter time-span. 😉 But eventually you are going to have to stop – and address the issue. Sorry, but at some point, regardless of what it is, you need to deal with it. Numbing yourself and your emotions isn’t the way to live your life!
7. And drink the water
You are probably ALSO thirsty. I will bet you a reasonably large amount of money that you have not been drinking as much water as you think you have. And the body signals hunger/cravings instead of thirst, stupid thing. Why can’t it just say it’s thirsty?! Now I’m not saying that these kinds of cravings don’t go a bit beyond just “being thirsty.” I’ve tried that trick myself on occasion. I drink my glass of water – laugh at the stupidity of this advice, and eat more chocolate. BUT I would say, do it anyways. Try to drink water instead, try making it a bit nice like with lemon or cucumber in it. At least it will make you eat less. Drink water with your candy. It will keep you busy, and it helps.
Hopefully the points are to some help. Try 1 or 2 of them, and see if they help. And don’t be so hard on yourself. Let it be a process, that can be tweaked, altered, thrown out the window, started up again and changed from before. It’s life, things happen to throw us in all kinds of directions. The point is to stay healthy most of the time.