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https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/10/well/eat/food-cravings-strategies.html?referringSource=articleShare

I read this article and wondered what cravings people have, and what strategies you use to limit them? My weird craving has been ice cream which makes no sense because it’s cold outside and I’m lactose intolerant. I took more Calcium tablets in case my body was asking for calcium and Vitamin D. But what do you do for yourself when pie or Cookies or chips are calling your name?

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Distraction can work well for me. Do something that occupies your mind and hands...knitting, puzzles etc. Even going for a short 15 minute walk, if at work, go talk to someone instead of sending an email.

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Popsicles. They're 53 calories a piece, so innocent. But it's a lot of quick sugar, and somehow, two are never enough.

I tried just denying myself the things I wanted, and that ultimately led to full-fledge binge eating disorder. It'll consume you faster than you realize. So instead, I try mitigation. I have other Snacks (tons of em) in the house that are more sensible, I even have sorbet. All of which I can enjoy in moderation.

In terms of nomenclature, I think it's important people understand the difference between being actually hungry and having a craving. Don't be hungry.

It's infinitely better to go 100-400 cals over your plan (or 800, for that matter), than to go hungry. Being hungry truly messes with your relationship to food, and I don't think most people realize how familiar hunger is to the obese. Which, unfortunately, is only a stepping stone to overeating, hormonal and metabolic messes, and greatly reduced quality of life.

So yeah, remember cravings and hunger are different. And that both need to be stimulated, but in different ways.

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when I'm having an uncontrollable craving for dessert, I'll sometimes take a thing of vanilla Greek yogurt (usually one of the lower calorie ones - like Light & Fit, Carbmaster, or the 100-calorie one they have at Aldi's), stir in a couple teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, and top with a dollop of light Cool Whip and a few raspberries.

sugar free Jello with a dollop of light Cool Whip can hit the spot as well.

although not caving in any way and just getting out of the house sometimes helps as well - although that's harder to do in the winter (depending on where you live). My worst time for cravings is late afternoon, so in the summer I'd often get out and ride my bike for an hour. I try to keep my hands busy, too (like doing jigsaw puzzles) - that'll sometimes work, too.

it's a constant battle, isn't it? UGH.

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I still give in to the cravings but in a healthier fashion. So Protein Cookies instead of old fashioned chocolate chip homemade baked cookies. Skinny Pop instead of butter-laden or kettle corn. I find alternatives.

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I'm in the "Find an Alternative" camp

When I have a craving, I try to identify what is about the food I am craving -- if I am craving chips, do I want salt or do I want something crunchy? If I crave ice cream, am I craving something sweet or something creamy? Then find a healthy alternative that will quell that craving. If I am craving something sweet, maybe I'll have a cup of fruit. If I am craving something creamy, maybe I'll have some Greek yogurt. It doesn't need to be spot-on, it just needs to be close enough to trick my brain/body into thinking it got what it wanted.

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Also, and it has been touched upon: PAUSE.

Just give yourself 3 minutes to figure out what's going on. Hungry? Sad? Stressed? Procrastinating? Or just really in the mood for popcorn?

This has been SUCH a valuable tool for me, and I forget that I do it. I never mindlessly wander to the cupboards anymore, but sometimes I definitely decide that yeah, it's popsicle time. Other times oh right, actually it was that annoying email that sent my mind to popsicle land.

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I give myself 30-60 mins to change my mind.

if I want something that has disproportionately high calories, or if I want something soon after I just ate, I’ll wait a little bit (usually timed on my watch), and if I still want it, then fine, I’ll have it. But I’ve found that more often than not, I don’t want it after the “waiting period”.

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My main strategy is to fill up on low-calorie foods. Once a week, I buy and prep a bunch of snack veggies (celery, carrot chips, cucumber slices, pepper slices, and cherry tomatoes). I portion them out in meal prep containers, one for each day, and I have a saved meal that I enter in My Fitness Pal at the beginning of the day. Then I snack on the veggies whenever I want (I usually split them between mid-morning and mid-afternoon), knowing that they’re already accounted for. I use Walden Farms “calorie-free” dressing as a dip. It is a LOT of food for ~60 calories.

If I’m in the mood for something warm, my go-to is cauliflower rice with Flavor God cheese seasoning and Mrs. Dash. Or I make a Soup with cauliflower rice and chicken broth. 20-30 calories and very satisfying.

I have a great substitution for ice cream! Whip pasteurized egg whites (safe to eat without cooking) with cream of tartar, calorie-free sugar substitute, and flavoring of choice (vanilla is delicious but I like to experiment with different flavors of One-On-One) and freeze. It’s best to eat before it’s frozen solid, or after letting it soften for a few minutes. It makes about 1 cup for just 25 calories, and it’s dairy-free and high in Protein. I also use it (without freezing) as a substitute for whipped cream and put it on 10-calorie sugar-free Jello.

Sometimes just looking at the nutrition information is enough to deter me. One time someone brought donuts to work and they were calling my name. I looked up the nutrition info to see how bad a small glazed donut would be, and it was 280 calories! I could eat two Built Bars for that and I would enjoy them more, and once I looked at it that way, I had no desire to eat the donut. Not worth it!

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I have tried various strategies listed here. In my experience, you will need all of them, some will work sometimes, others will work other times. For me, my favorite is just to figure out what I'm ACTUALLY feeling and then act on that feeling. Am I ACTUALLY hungry? Then I eat. Am I really thirsty? Then I drink. Am I bored? Play some solitaire or call my mom or read. Am I lonely? Come here and read and respond to posts!

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