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Don’t be a Craveman

Source: United Benefit Advisors, LLC

It’s the holidays. It’s the perfect storm of indulging in food that you may not normally eat.  Whether you get gift baskets in the office, or are just tempted by all the holiday goodies in the supermarket, your mind is constantly being coerced into wanting the deliciousness that’s mere feet away. Don’t give into the craving!

Of course, we’ve all faced an overwhelming hunger for a particular unhealthy food item — pizza, chocolate, donuts, ice cream, french fries, etc. — but when the holidays come around, we get a whole new treasure trove of delicacies. To help “sweeten” the pot, many of these are only seasonally available. Pumpkin spiced latte, anyone? The holidays are like walking through the mall food court, or the main thoroughfare at the State Fair in that even the most devoted, health-conscious person among us can resist only so long before giving in. Can’t you just taste that deep-fried goodness right now?

An article on CNN titled, 7 ways to stop unhealthy food cravings, provides tips on how to beat those cravings along with many healthy alternatives to the unhealthy foods we want. To avoid what the author calls “mindless munching,” you need to analyze the cause of your cravings in order to counter them with effective strategies.

First, ask yourself if you’re really hungry. It’s so simple, yet we often eat just to eat. Take a moment to stop and think. Now that you’re thinking, think about what your body needs. Even if it’s time to eat, your brain may override your body and demand that slice of chocolate cake rather than have something more appropriate such as a sandwich or salad. Next, pay attention to what you crave. Sometimes the desire for certain types of foods can actually be a warning sign for a health issue. If you’ve eaten a full meal, yet you still want something that’s sweet, salty, high in protein, etc. and this is more of a physical response and not emotional, then consider seeing a medical professional.

If it is a purely emotional craving, try to derail that train of thought. Once you see the food you want, it’s often impossible to stop imagining the texture, richness, and all the other attributes of what it would be like to taste it. That’s why it’s important to take a time out. Instead of racing to be the first to cut into that pan of brownies, take a few minutes to drink a glass of water or hot beverage, get up and walk around, or chew some gum. If you absolutely can’t resist, then go ahead and satisfy your craving, but do so in small doses. Try having just one-fourth the normal portion size. Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and preventing your cravings is the best way to eliminate them altogether.

By finding healthier alternatives to sugary, fatty, or salty snacks, you can bypass the desire to eat the bad stuff and maybe, just maybe, this holiday won’t be so rough on your waistline.