Oh, the siren song of that mocha chocolate-chip ice cream! Or maybe it’s a big serving of a barbecue and a couple of beers (or more). Or chips and salsa with your beer while watching the Big Game on TV.
Truth is, nearly everyone has some special food that can turn into a major craving. Once in a while might be OK, but when you can’t stop giving in to the craving, it’s time to take some serious action.
And they may be mean, but they’re right. The only way to stop food cravings is to develop the strength and discipline to say one simple word: No.
It can be so hard to say No. People at the office bring doughnuts in the morning, somebody has a birthday, somebody retires and the company throws a big lunch for everyone. Truth is, food is all around us, every single day, and nobody crams food into our mouths except us.
That’s right, we’re talking about the big “R” word: Responsibility. Each of us has to take responsibility for our health habits and quit blaming the allure of food. The food doesn’t grow legs and walk into our mouths. The portions don’t “super-size” themselves. We do it to ourselves.
So how do we cope with food cravings? It’s all mental conditioning. We conditioned ourselves to think that the pleasure we get from a particular food is worth the extra unnecessary calories it brings. It’s a momentary pleasure that ultimately brings longtime disadvantages.
That’s why people who are successful at controlling their cravings have all kinds of tricks they use to short-circuit the desire for certain foods. Some try healthier substitutions such as crunchy apples or celery instead of potato chips.
Some drink big glasses of ice water with lemon, which is a great idea because often we confuse thirst with hunger. Other people use little sayings or “mantras,” such as “A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.”
The point here is that food cravings, or even food addictions, are the result of substituting food for dealing with something that’s happening in life. In many cases we’re “stuffing down” emotions we don’t want to feel, like embarrassment, disappointment, anger or fear.
The way to stop a food craving is to analyze what’s behind the craving. Did you have a fight with your Significant Other? Did your child do poorly in school? Has your mother-in-law been on your case again?
Whatever it is that’s bothering you, don’t feed it. Deal with it, and move on.