Now that winter has arrived, many of us will be tempted to eat an excess of baked goods, sugary delights and treats that are heavy in starch. These foods are full of simple carbohydrates that pack on the pounds. Unfortunately, indulging in such comfort foods goes hand-in-hand with humanity’s version of winter hibernation. Let’s take a look at a few ways to mitigate those pesky wintertime cravings.
First, make sure that there’s no undiagnosed medical reason for your cravings. Schedule an appointment with your doctor and confirm that you’re healthy, well-rested, and that your diet meets your nutritional needs.
As soon as you feel a craving coming on, grab your notepad and write down the situation that led to the craving. Perhaps the craving is in response to worrisome thoughts. Or maybe it is the result of your location at that particular time, the smell of delicious food, or too little sleep. Write down these “craving prompts” and you will have a markedly improved self-awareness that will help you better understand and beat cravings in the future.
When a craving strikes, think about all the ingredients in your “treat.” (There’s a reason for the old saying “Like watching sausage being made!”) Maybe you’ve just got to have a bowl of pretzels or ‘just one more’ chocolate. Use your mind’s eye to imagine the actual amount of salt or sugar it contains. Drinking a soda, eating candy or snacking on a nutritionally void food like pretzels is the equivalent of scooping spoonfuls of sugar right into your mouth.
Before you give into that craving, stop and think about whether you’re actually hungry. Give yourself 3-5 minutes to consider whether you really need to eat. You might find that you are not really hungry. If you truly believe that your craving is the result of legitimate hunger, do your best to eat a healthy meal. If you’re on the go and it’s not convenient to eat a meal, drink a few ounces of water before you grab that snack. At best, you’ll realize that you didn’t need it as much as you thought. At worst, you’ll be hydrated and perhaps eat a smaller portion.
Carbohydrates are especially problematic for gas sufferers. Remember to check the carb content of foods and beverages alike. The high sugar content of many alcoholic beverages can make them especially problematic for people who are troubled by intestinal gas. Consuming too many carbohydrates causes excessive gas as their starch and sugar ferment in the stomach.
One’s lifestyle choices also have the potential to induce gas. Eat and drink slowly to avoid taking in air at a rapid pace. Don’t talk while enjoying meals and snacks. Chewing gum, smoking and even loose dentures also cause gas.
Anyone who regularly shops with small children has likely mastered this trick: distraction. Instead of focusing on the food’s crunch, sweetness or texture, do something else to get your mind off of eating. Play a video game, go for a run, or read a book. Your craving will subside if you get involved in another, enjoyable activity.