Beating cravings for trigger foods that contain too much sugar, salt, and/ or fat can be tough. If you have recently undergone bariatric surgery or are getting ready to do so, you know how difficult it can be to pass over those foods that once consumed your world. However, in order to remain on a healthy path and avoid gaining back unwanted pounds, refusing to give in to cravings is essential.
Easier said than done, right? The following tips can help you step off the path that leads to Temptation Town.
1. Keep Track of Your Progress
If you’ve gone 7 days without added sugar, it’s less tempting to break the cycle. Keeping track of successes reminds you that you are someone who succeeds and can help you stay focused on your goals. Also, if you do cheat, having a record of your longest successful period without a trigger food can give you a milestone to beat the next time.
2. Ask “Why?”
Cravings often strike when we’re stressed, tired, bored, undernourished, or thirsty. By taking a moment to consider your actual needs in the moment, you’ll go a long way to determining whether or not to indulge your inclination to eat.
Is your co-worker eating a sticky cinnamon bun, causing you to crave the same thing? Chances are, you would not be craving this food if you weren’t exposed to it, so do your best to step out of the room to remove this trigger from your field of vision (and smell!).
Is it time for a meal? Prepare and eat something with protein and fiber from non-starchy vegetables to balance your blood sugar and give you sustainable nourishment. Are you bored or stressed? Consider getting up and stretching or calling a friend to talk about your feelings. By taking a short break to consider what your body, mind, and emotions really require, you will avoid mindless eating and instead make the most beneficial choice for your body and mind.
3. Check the Time
Is it 3pm? Midafternoon is a time when blood sugar naturally dips. If you have not eaten sustaining meals throughout the day, this time of day can be one of the hardest in which to remain focused and avoid mindless, sugary snacking. So what do you do when the 3 pm slump sets in? Try protein and/or fiber. A small snack of low-fat cheese or an apple can help you feel full, banishing your craving for foods that would only cause a sugar crash soon after eating.
4. Surf the Urge
It can seem unbearable to sit back and allow a craving flow over you. We expect cravings to increase in intensity until they overtake our senses entirely. Instead, however, food cravings work like waves, building, peaking, then disappearing. The next time you experience a strong desire to eat an unhealthy food item, wait five minutes. If you’re not already engaged in a task or pleasurable activity, pick up a book or bag of knitting. Between keeping busy and giving your craving a chance to pass, you’ll be amazed at how much less desirable the item is to you after a few minutes.
Overcoming cravings is one of the most difficult challenges faced by bariatric patients. However, by knowing yourself, your trigger foods, and objective ways to think about your cravings when you feel caught in their grip, you can beat the odds and make choices that keep you on track to health and wellbeing.