Got Cravings? Emotional? Just Plain Hungry? or Its Just What We Do!
Hunger/Cravings/Emotional/Habitual: [ FEEL FREE TO RELATE AND LAUGH WHILE READING ] If you have lived as a human on this planet we like to call Earth, you have experienced these different forms of eating habits. For some us, we have mastered the eating maze and are healthy and happy individuals. For some of us, we were just blessed with good genes that kept and continue to keep us skinny. Others may choose other methods of dealing with hunger and/or engage in habits that keeps them thin (but are in no way beneficial to their health): anemia, bulimia, drugs, even smoking (so I have been told). And then there is the rest of the world, the majority, who simply eat. Well as promised, I stated that I would share as I learned. So here we go. Three days ago, I started to have a strange craving for salt. I figured I just wanted something salty: French fries or something. The first day, I tried saltine crackers- didn't work. The Second Day, I broke down and got a small fry from McDonalds - after three fries and a terrible time swallowing it- I threw the rest away. I figured chips would hurt worse than fries so I didn't go there. By the third day, I was ready to pour salt in my hand and eat it. I ended up eating mashed potatoes with salt and Cajun seasoning. I wasn't really hungry nor did I want any of the things I mentioned. I just wanted the salt. We are conditioned to believe that cravings are ALWAYS remnants of are past BAD eating habits: nothing good can come of it. So I didn't mention it to the doctor. Well, I had a routine follow up scheduled the next day: blood, urine and so forth. Come to find out, I was Dehydrated. One of the symptoms associated with Dehydration is craving salt. Upon finding out this information, I told my doctor about the last three days. He listened and then he explained. There are several types of eating habits, but to simplify here are four main types: hunger or regular, cravings, emotional, and habitual eating. Hunger: Regular - Biologically Necessary Eating: When the food you have previously consumed has been digested and used, the body sends off signals to the brain to start the process of alerting you ( growling stomach, headache, and so forth) that you need nourishment. Insert a bunch of doctor talk here....and then arrive to the point. You need to eat small portions throughout the day to keep your system fueled and your blood sugar levels regulated. Cravings: Mostly a mental hunger but can occasionally be a symptom of a bigger health issue. Cravings are greatly linked to the wonderful neurotransmitters we call endorphins: the feel good stuff. Deserts, fast food, candy, and so forth can all be linked to cravings associated with the release of endorphins. Giving into a craving WITH MODERATION every now and then is not a bad thing. As my doctor has stated once before: deprivation is the mother of all diet breaking habits. Deprive yourself of something long enough and you will most likely binge when you do eat it. A few potato chips did not make you overweight OVER NIGHT. It took Several Bags of Chips over Several Nights to add the pounds. MODERATION is the key. Keeping a food log is a great help in this department. You will begin to see patterns in your eating habits. For example, when and what types of cravings you have and how you dealt with them. And if you find yourself craving something over and over again, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor or nutritionist. In some cases, as it was with my need for salt, there may be a greater medical issue at hand. Emotional eating: Well this topic needs no introduction and has a simple explanation: attempting to make us temporarily feel better through eating. We usually engage in emotional eating during times of Stress, Grief, Anxiousness, Indecision, Depression, Helplessness, and so forth. The best way to combat this eating habit, is to locate the source of the problem. Eating rarely if ever solves the problem that is causing the strong and usually negative emotion. Exercise, counseling, reaching out to others, and sometimes taking time to heal oneself are all great tactics. Once again keeping a journal of what triggers the emotional eating will help you get a better grasp on the problem at hand. NOW WE MOVE ON TO THE UNIVERSAL EATING HABIT ACCURATLEY NAMED HABITUAL (OR RITUAL) Eating: ITS JUST WHAT WE DO. I believe that most people indulge in this eating habit and the following are some examples of when we do it: You are going to the Football/Baseball/Basketball/Hockey game: Hotdogs, Chips, Beer, Liquor. You are going to the movies: Popcorn, Coke, Pretzels, Funnel cake, Pizza or whatever the concession item of your choice is. Its the Holiday Season: I must have all of the usual favorites: Grandma's turkey, Great Aunt's Caramel Cake, Your Spouse's Sweet Potatoes, Your Neighbor's Candy Yams, Christmas Punch, and so forth. The Girls Venting Session: must have Ice Cream of some flavor and LOTS of it and alcohol. The Birthday party: most have party favors and Cake. Men's night: Steaks, Burgers, Chips, Ribs, and Beer. You are bored and in the house doing nothing: Must. Eat. Whatever. Its just what we do. LOL. MOST of us do it and have been conditioned all of our lives to do it. This conditioning has been formed through family traditions, societal norms, peer influences, workplace etiquette, school related gatherings, church and community functions, and almighty MEDIA (just to name a few). The best solution to this is MODERATION. Also, start a new tradition of your own. When all else fails, before you eat something ask yourself the following ( I practice this daily): Are you hungry, have you eaten this lately, how do you feel, and what are you doing at this moment. I usually find that asking myself these questions leads to further questions and eventually to answers. I will either talk myself out of it or I will understand why I am doing it. MOST IMPORTANTLY, No man has ever survived without making mistakes, without setbacks, or without occasional over indulgence. It just happens. Do not beat yourself up about it. Just continue to move forward. You will only be as successful as you allow yourself to be. Surround yourself with supportive people, practice good habits, start new traditions, keep a journal, exercise, and ENJOY your second chance at life. You only live once.
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