Stop Restrictive Eating: Learning to Work With Cravings
by June Lupiani, RD, Nutrition Leader at Green Mountain at Fox Run
Interested in trying something new and potentially extremely supportive for your body long term? Say goodbye to restrictive eating and try working with your cravings and not against them.
Restrictive Eating Leads to Overeating
Here’s the thing: we’re constantly taught, and have been for about as long as most of us can remember, to ignore our food cravings. Repress them, curb them, distract yourself with doing something else or eating something else, basically restrict ourselves from having what we really want.
But what typically winds up happening in the end? You guessed it! We typically eat what we were craving anyway and possibly eat more of it than we might have if we just gave ourselves permission to eat it at the first inkling of craving.
So what if we no longer go on, painstakingly trying to ignore something our body or mind is trying to tell us – but instead paid attention to it? Really sat with it for a minute and investigated it further?
Let’s try a scenario. Say you get a craving for some ice cream. If we’re working against ourselves in a restrictive mode we tell ourselves “No! No ice cream!” So we try something else like maybe carrots – yeah, carrots… and then maybe almonds… and then some more almonds and more carrots. And all the while, still wanting the ice cream.
And then comes the tipping point, where we rebelliously go for the ice cream.
Rebellious behavior against the restriction typically leads us to eat more of the ice cream than we might even want, which we perceive as a good thing since we are all the while telling ourselves we’re “Never doing that again so I might as well get it out of the house.” Sound familiar?
Give Yourself Permission to Eat What You Want
Well, here’s an alternative. When you get a craving for ice cream give yourself a few seconds to think about it.
“Hm. I’m craving ice cream. I wonder where that’s coming from?” As you ponder it consider your hunger. There are lots of different types of hunger so try and investigate it by asking, “What am I hungry for and where is my hunger coming from?”
You can recognize and accept that you are hungry for ice cream but you might also recognize that the hunger isn’t so much in your stomach but somewhere else inside you – which makes sense since we eat for lots of reasons other than stomach hunger or physiological need, and that’s okay!
Once you sit with it for a moment and accept your hunger, ask yourself if you want to honor that hunger. Something like this: “I want ice cream and it’s not so much a physical need but something else.” Then consciously ask yourself if you still want to eat the ice cream.
At Green Mountain at Fox Run, we refer to this as the process of giving ourselves permission. Once we get clear and conscious we are able to make a decision and give ourselves permission to eat. Once we make a conscious choice we are much more likely to enjoy the choice we made.
Try it. Remember to sit for a minute, question the hunger and investigate it further first – then make the choice. You make the call on what you eat and when you decide to eat it so savor the choice you made.
Your Wellness Tip To-Go:
If you’re struggling with cravings and weight loss consider a trip to Green Mountain at Fox Run, a full-immersion weight-loss program and retreat for women in Ludlow, Vermont. There you’ll get the tools for achieving sustainable weight loss without dieting. Learn more about Green Mountain at Fox Run on spafinder.com.