February 8, 2011

More Weapons to Combat Food Cravings


You know that I have spoken about my food cravings and how pervasive they are for me.  Katie Jay of NAWLS sent out her latest newsletter about the very thing and has given some very sound advice about handling the dreaded cravings.  I have taken excerpts of the article and have reprinted them here.  Please take time to read through some of these tips and let me know what you think.  Also, head over to www.nawls.com and check out the website for more information.
When a food craving hits, there is no fast-acting, anti-hunger cream we can rub on. But, most of us employ various tactics to help us avoid eating on a whim.  I've heard many: distracting yourself with a good book, putting a stop sign in your kitchen doorway between meal  times, making a phone call, getting engaged in a hobby you enjoy... I could go on and on.
 
These short-term tactics can help immensely, but getting rid of the source of the problem is much more challenging.
Some of my coaching clients have agreed to become scientists rather than critics. What I mean by that is instead of fighting the cravings, giving in, and beating themselves up -- over and over again, they have undertaken an effort to get a better understanding of themselves and their situations.
 
The number one tool they used is a "Food/Hunger/Mood/ Activity/Sleep Log." I know that some people hate to keep a log, but your beliefs about logs are worth challenging, especially considering the major benefits (Did you know studies show that keeping a food log practically doubles your weight loss?).
 
Honestly, when I started to regain, I decided I was willing to do anything to keep the weight off, and I embraced my log as the number one tool to help me.
 
Through logging I discovered an association between my low-grade depression and certain foods I was eating (donuts). I also learned I am hungrier during my PMS week (chocolate). I realized I was snacking at the same time every day (popcorn or cheese, or both), when I wasn't hungry. I made a connection between a stressful day at work and a midnight snack (toast with peanut butter). I even noticed that I consistently craved certain foods at certain times of day, probably due to a daily pattern of feelings I was attempting to manage with food.
 
While using my log, I took the role of a scientist observing herself, not a critic judging herself. Once I had a better understanding of my feelings and behavior I began to experiment with small changes and I saw the pounds I had regained begin to slip away.
 
I made the following changes, one at a time: 
  • Go back to therapy with someone who understands eating and
    weight issues.
  • Fill out my food log.
  • Go to bed one hour earlier.
  • Get trigger foods out of sight -- or out of the house altogether.
  • Each morning, or the night before, plan and pack my food for the day.
  • Eat dense protein first at each meal.
  • Walk an extra 10 minutes per exercise session.
  • Measure the foods I tend to overdo (cheese, fats, carbs).
  • Try a new vegetable each week.
  • Nap once a week.
  • Sit still and breathe for 5 minutes every day.
  • Limit my exposure to negative people and to bad news in the
    world.
  • Stop using the telephone, TV, or internet one hour before bedtime
  • and for one hour after awakening each morning (except when I use my yoga DVD).
Seeing the scale go down gave me motivation to try some of the more difficult changes. Over time, I lost all the weight I regained.Now, at the first sign of weight gain, or of sliding into old unhealthy behavior, I take action. I get my log book out and observe, non-judgmentally, what's going on.  Then, I experiment some more -- making the easiest changes first.

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