Thursday, January 23, 2014

Crush Those Cravings!

I'm on Day 23 of the Whole 30. 30 days of clean eating. And it has been smooth sailing up until the past 2 days.

Who knows why? Maybe it's hormones. Maybe it's cabin fever. (We are officially snowed in at this moment.) But the last couple of evenings, I've been having some powerful cravings for chocolate.

And we do have some chocolate in the house. In fact, we have several types of dark chocolate. At this point you may be saying to yourself, "Why doesn't she just go ahead and eat some? She could have a small piece. Dark chocolate is healthy. It's full of antioxidants, right?" This is what the little devil on my right shoulder is whispering in my ear.

But the little angel on my other shoulder knows better.

Because one of the HUGE benefits of completing a 30-day challenge is learning that you don't have to give in to those cravings. Yes, they feel strong and powerful when they're happening. But YOU are stronger. You can make the right choice. Every single time.

And the point is not that chocolate (or anything else you might be craving) is so terrible. The point is that you have made a commitment. And when you have successfully completed 30 days of clean eating without slipping up even once, you will KNOW how strong you are. You will have irrefutable evidence. Because you will have faced and conquered your cravings repeatedly.

And this takes planning ahead. Knowing yourself well enough to devise a plan to cope with those weak moments. Knowing what you absolutely cannot bring into your home. (If someone had baked chocolate chip cookies and waved some under my nose, I can't be sure I would have remained so strong last night!) Having the right healthy snacks available to substitute for your craved items. For me, the snack of choice right now is pistachios. You might prefer a different kind of nut, or maybe some fruit, or possibly some deviled eggs. Sweet potato fries (baked in the oven) are another favorite of mine. Sweet, yet healthy.

Perhaps your cravings always hit at the same time of the day. Or evening. Mine come on when I sit on the couch to watch TV. So you might switch things up. Go read a book somewhere else instead. Or get up and vacuum the room. Go for a walk. Put something else in your hands like sewing, knitting, rug hooking, or a crossword puzzle. Drink some herbal tea. Take a relaxing bath. Get out the treadmill and walk while you watch your show. Get down on the floor and do some stretching. So many possibilities! Figure out which ones work for you.

One more idea for crushing those cravings before they even begin: Make sure you're getting enough nutritious food in your three (or 4 or 5) meals per day. Don't skimp on the protein and fat. You might notice that cravings are almost always for sugary treats. Or alcohol, which also contains sugar. Low blood sugar causes cravings for sugar, so don't let your blood sugar get low. Eating enough high-quality protein and healthy fats at every meal and snack will keep you satisfied for longer, keep your blood sugar levels steady (instead of yo-yo-ing) and help to banish those cravings.

Last of all, enlist a friend or loved one for support. When your craving rears its hideous head, yell loudly (or use a telephone) for your friend to help. Maybe you can be distracted with a funny story or a hug. Maybe your friend can make you a cup of tea or a deviled egg. Or angels on horseback. Maybe you can go out together for a jog or a bike ride or a yoga class. Keep in mind that you always have a choice.

Your cravings are not in charge. YOU are.

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