Seven Simple Strategies to Kill Cravings
By Dr. Leslie Van Romer and Dr. Narinder Duggal
Americans are well-aware of common addictions: smoking, caffeine,
alcohol, prescription pain medications, sleeping pills, and of
course, illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroine. However, most of
us are blind to this country’s biggest addiction of all: Food. The
shocking truth is that too much weight now, kills more people than
food is addictive – as we all can attest. Whether it’s a physical,
mental, emotional, conditional, cultural, or all-of-the-above,
addiction makes no difference. We’re all hooked, and that’s why it’s
tough to beat those cravings that lure us in, no matter how much we
try to think or talk ourselves out of them.
of us, it’s sweets; for others, it’s salt. It can be greasy chips,
or the diet soda we gulp. Bread soothes, meat rules, cheese pleads.
Countless combinations connive to command and control us. And let’s
not forget the dark devil himself, a seductive master who leaves us
weak in the knees – chocolate. No matter what kind of cravings hold
you hostage, these seven strategies can help you escape – freeing
you to lose weight, sidestep diseases, and build up your health.
Satisfy your hunger drive: You must control your hunger
drive to lose and maintain the ideal weight – a mythical cultural
mantra you may believe. When you fail to control your hunger and
give in once more to your cravings, you feel inherently weak,
lacking will power and self-control. Delete that myth from your
brain. Your hunger drive cannot be controlled. It is a natural
instinct, and like all human instincts, it keeps you alive.
you’re thirsty, you drink. When you’re sleepy, you sleep. When
you’re hungry, guess what? You should eat. The key is to fill up on
the right foods that satisfy your hunger drive (see Strategy #2).
Yippee! You are now free to eat until you’re full.
to listen to your brain and stop eating before your stomach begs for
mercy. And when you’re hungry again, truly hungry and not just needy
for emotional comfort or relief from boredom, eat! Cravings,
triggered by hunger, can be crushed, if you stop waging war with
your hunger drive and start satisfying it by filling up on the
Fill up on good-guy carbs: For all the carbohydrate confusion,
there is one glaring fact. All carbs are not created equally. The
good-guy carbohydrates, sourced by whole fresh fruits, vegetables,
unrefined grains (brown rice, not breads) and legumes, satisfy your
hunger drive, thereby calming cravings. When one of your bad
cravings starts to scream at you, whether mid-afternoon or during
the evening, eat. Just remember to fill up on nature’s best-for-you
foods first, and you’ll be amazed by the fading of the craving.
For cravings to disappear, you must eat enough of the best-for-you
foods to really fill you up.
Ditch the bad-boy carbs: On the other hand, the bad boys incite
cravings. Steer clear of them. Scout them out and ban them from your
house, workplace and car. As experience teaches, the more refined
sugar, desserts, baked goods, breads, salty snacks, and chocolate
you eat, the more hooked you get. So take away the temptation. If
they are out of sight, they are much easier to avoid.
natural sugars and sodium (nature’s salt), wrapped up in nature’s
perfect, nutrient-dense package of fruits, vegetables, unrefined
grains, and legumes, are your biggest allies to successfully fight
and conquer cravings. When cravings call, be sure to first
load up on these foods, especially whole fruits and vegetables, to
render those sabotaging urges powerless.
Graze on fruit for breakfast: Fresh fruit expedites your freedom
from cravings. The challenge is – eating enough fruit in a day.
Rather than breakfasting on the typical bad-boy carbs which trigger
cravings (think of the bad-for-you dried-up box cereal, quick oats,
brown-colored white toast, pancakes, pop tarts, pastries, fat-laden
bacon and eggs, and cups of coffee), why not jump out of the
breakfast box and fill your stomach with nature’s best craving
crushers – fresh fruits?
attention to your hunger drive and eat enough whole fruits,
approximately four to ten, to fill you up and satisfy you. Grazing
on whole, fresh fruits until noon helps shut the gate before the
cravings get out of the barn, gain momentum and sneak attack later
in the day. Try it. See how many whole fresh fruits fill you
up and behold your incredible shrinking cravings.
Keep healthy snacks handy: Whether at home, work, or on the go,
think ahead and keep healthy snacks with you at all times. It’s easy
– just stock up on cut-up veggies, fruit, and raw unsalted nuts and
seeds. That way, when cravings start crooning, your fortifications
will stop them dead in their tracks.
Stop the diet-go-round – forever: Sure diets work, for a while –
until they don’t. But they are excellent at one thing – adding
red-hot fuel to your cravings. First, diets deprive you of your food
favorites - until you can’t stand it, give in and sneak them back
into your life. Second, diets restrict calories and portions,
leaving you hungry, making you crave more and building that food
frenzy to a height that consumes your thoughts and your life
until…you give in. Third, diets often limit the major nutrient,
carbohydrates. With a shortage of good-guy carbs, cravings take
control, and you grab the first bad-guy carb in sight. The result:
you feel hopeless. So the next time you’re tempted to diet, just
remember one thing: Diets Don’t Work!
Add and wiggle! Let’s face it right now – you’re not perfect. No
one’s perfect! Nor do you have to be perfect to be free from food
cravings. So give yourself some wiggle room. Instead of proclaiming
that you’re never ever going to be seduced by one of your favorite
food fiends again, try a new strategy.
addition, not subtraction. In other words, instead of trapping
yourself in a restrictive food-box of “can’t haves” and depriving
yourself from the get-go, think about which foods you “get to”
add to your day that will give you the most nutrition for your
calorie buck. These are the very same foods – fruits, vegetables,
whole grains, and legumes – that will short-stop those cravings that
have enslaved you.
follow the 80/20 Rule. Eighty percent of the time when meals and
snacks are routine without holidays, birthdays, or get-togethers,
fill up first on those best-for-you foods. The other 20 percent of
the time, don’t worry about it – wiggle! Just don’t wiggle too much.
matter how diligent you are at incorporating these strategies into
specific action steps in your daily life, if you are a mere mortal,
there will be times when temptation gets the best of you, when you
least expect it. No worries, though! With persistent mindfulness,
time and patience, you can unlock that trap door, free yourself from
cravings, and build your body-dream-come-true.
Read other articles and learn more about
Dr. Leslie Van
Narinder Duggal, M.D.
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