Overcoming cravings

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about focus lately.  My husband and I recently changed our living room to have the couches face each other rather than the television, and have found our free time totally revolutionized.  Instead of racing for the remote come seven pm, we now sit and talk to each other and have been so blessed by doing so.  So, it made me wonder how many other areas of our lives can be transformed simply by changing our focus.  Which brings me to the question: is the focus of eating to be simply self-soothing, a scratching of an itch so to speak, or is to be health and wellness?

If your focus for each meal and snack is to satisfy a longing or a craving, or to soothe a part of your soul that needs comfort, then I’m afraid the journey to wellness will be a long and troubled road.  But if you change your focus to see food as energy, as LIFE, then you will have so much fun along the way as to not even notice the miles stretching ahead of and behind you.
So how to deal with cravings?  I have a few suggestions:

  1. What is the craving actually for?  I found that when I craved BBQ chicken, it wasn’t actually for the chicken, it was for the BBQ sauce itself.  So when I discovered how I could bake tofu in BBQ sauce, the craving vanished.  Sometimes the sauce or the spice or the flavoring is the real source of the craving, not the animal product.  I’ve also found that to be the case with Reubens (tempeh instead of meat), all Persian food (substitute beans), and cheese popcorn (nutritional yeast mixed with vegan butter does the trick splendidly!).
  2. Is the craving even for food...or something else?  There’s another element to craving -- it’s the memory surrounding the eating of that food.  For example, if you remember your mother serving pot roast every Sunday, you may crave pot roast every time you miss your mother.  Or if you visited a Village Inn or a Denny’s after late night bowling in college (like I did!) then you may crave french toast and sausage whenever you think about the “good old days.”  If that is the case, then you must learn to separate the memory from the food in order to overcome the craving.
  3. Is the craving associated with a habit of some kind?  For example, afternoon coffee, or mid-morning bagel or evening snack.  Sometimes we get into the habit of eating things that are not healthful and yet we can’t seem to get out of the rut since they have been delegated to a particular time slot in our day.  If that is the case, then I suggest finding something to replace the habit foods.  My husband and I used to eat monterey jack cheese with crackers every night until we replaced that with pumpkin seeds -- we’ve never looked back.

When I used to work as an office manager, I would have a KitKat every afternoon at 1 pm.  Well, over time, that become 1, 2, 3, and 4 pm.  And then I would be dreaming of them as soon as I walked into the office in the morning.  I soon realized that I wasn’t actually craving KitKats; I was craving the treat -- I was so unhappy at my job that I longed to be at home.  Eating KitKats was my mind’s way of telling my body something was wrong.  I later got laid off and decided to become a mommy full time instead of going back to work, and I’ve never been happier.

Cravings should always be addressed; however, that doesn’t mean to indulge them.  It is wise to understand them first and deal with them on a heart level rather than stockpiling KitKats.