“I do fine all day,” say many of my clients when we first speak. “It’s after dinner that I run into trouble.”
Evening cravings are the biggest saboteur I see among my clients. At the end of the day, we are tired, run down, and want a treat.
The child that still lives within each of us whines and begs and it’s often just easier to cave in and have a second glass of wine, too much ice cream, or several handfuls of tortilla chips.
Cravings surface not because we lack willpower, but because we haven’t planned well in advance or because there are very real needs that are not being met. To truly address and conquer cravings, one must take a mind-body-spirit approach to them: educate yourself on the causes of your cravings, address any physical issues (low blood sugar, lack of sleep, food intolerances), and look at the emotional root of your trigger foods.
The biggest source of food cravings I see are improper food choices earlier in the day and a build-up of stress that leads to succumbing to temptations in the evening. I’m not one to white-knuckle my way through a massive craving, and I don’t believe you should either. That’s no way to live life!
Here are some very real steps you can implement to nip your cravings in the bud:
- Look at your diet: are you eating regularly or are you going more than 3 hours between meals or snacks? Having low blood sugar earlier in the day can set us up to compensate by rummaging in the pantry after dinner. Also consider the possibility the foods you are choosing – whether or not they are healthy – may not be the right foods for you.
- Look for patterns of stressors and rewards. Often we deprive and deny ourselves during the day – both with food choices AND with saying ‘Yes’ to too many people, or by taking on too much. If you give and give and give all day you are going to want to receive at the end of it to restore yourself. Often the cycle is to emotionally shut down in front of the TV or internet and reward oneself with wine or sweets. Where can you adjust your choices during the day so you are not so depleted at the end of it? What can you do (or not do) to increase your joy?
- If there really WAS a little boy or girl living inside of you, what would s/he need? Is there an alternative to what you are choosing that is healthier and just as satisfying, or even more so? Watch your inner dialogue as well. Always aim to have the same dialogue with yourself that you would want to hear from an ideal parent or close friend.
Managing and eliminating cravings begins with understanding and is facilitated with an effective plan of attack. Look again at the above list – do you see one way to conquer your cravings right away? What step(s) will you implement today?