First of all, I’m loving all the comments on possible posting topics. Note that I asked simply to guide for my incredible indecisiveness. It’s one of those times where I have too many options and not a ton of time, so nothing ends up getting done. But hopefully that’s done with for now.
[[Keep commenting on this post if you want to make sure you’re added to my upcoming blogroll page!]]
Second order of business(?): You may have noticed that I did not do WIAW. Why? In all honestly I just really didn’t feel like dragging my camera around and taking the extra time to take pics of everything. Do not get me wrong, I think it’s a great way to share a day’s worth of eats, but school, midterms, and my own mental health are more important.
Which leads me to the real topic of today’s post – cravings.
[[disclaimer: I am not a health professional, all statements on this page are based on my own personal experience]]
If you say you never crave anything, you are probably lying. It may not be food related, as I know a good deal of people who just eat when they’re hungry and could care less what they’re actually eating. But we all crave something. Comfort, space, warmth, release, sweets – something.
Being the crazy foodie that I am, I crave specific foods all the time. Some of these cravings are really weird – like kale… And some are quite typical, like chocolate.
So here’s the big question: when is a craving really a craving, and not just a desire to eat for comfort? Are there times when it is better not to indulge your impulses?
As someone who has a history of comfort eating, this is something I have to ask myself almost on a daily basis. I have a huge sweet tooth. I eat when I’m bored, and when I’m alone for long periods of time. I could easily have chocolate and baked goods every day if I wanted. Physically speaking, I could easily eat dessert after every meal. I could easily eat the portion sizes of a large man. I could easily eat decadent restaurant dishes every day. But would I be happy with that? No. It weighs me down, and does not feel good.
I know this is exaggerating a bit, but regardless – comfort eating is almost an addiction. There came a time when I needed to learn to exercise some self-control. I’ve actually heard that self-control is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets. I guess that’s where restriction comes into play. Luckily I never got that extreme, but there was a brief period where eating a whole cupcake was forbidden – it was too much of an indulgence, and couldn’t be done.
I’m writing this now, because I think I’m starting to finally figure out which of my cravings to honor, and which to divert. For example, I had ravioli for dinner the other day. Random, right? I have no idea why, but all day I couldn’t get ravioli out of my head. And not whole grain or vegan or gluten-free – just goat cheese, red pepper and basil ravioli made with semolina flour.
served on steamed kale with some goat cheese on top. Had to get my serving of leafy greens as well!
Pasta was one of those things that I stopped craving when I stopped eating so much of it – which I’m totally fine with. But that made this random impulse so weird. Regardless, I thought long and hard about it. After some serious deliberation, I knew that I would kick myself if I did not allow this meal to happen. And I am really glad I did. In no way is this a particularly unhealthy meal.
However, there are other times when I do have to use my self-control muscle. Almost every time I walk past a shop with pastries in the window, I start thinking about how much I want cookies or cupcakes. Every time I walk past the chocolate aisle at a market, I have to remember that I don’t need to eat a full chocolate bar per day. When there is one item or serving left of something, I have to convince myself that I don’t want it – because it most often appeals to me because it’s the last one.
solution - make my own treats to control indulgence levels: homemade PB cup. see my recipe page! (this was actually AB)
Those kinds of cravings are comforts, ones that I would most likely indulge too much, and regret if afterwards. These are the ones I am learning to control. It’s not an exact science, but I think I’m getting better at it. And of course, I feel better when I indulge now and then. The more I honor the little things I truly want, the less likely I am to gorge myself with desserts at a party or impulse-buy unhealthy indulgences.
Now that I can allow myself to give in to little treats, I find myself craving healthy things more and more.
there are times when all I want is WF salad bar, a box of veggie-goodness
If I eat a huge plate of quality, nutrient dense foods, I’m less likely to want that chocolate bar.
...and there are times when I make random things out of flavors I can't stop thinking about, like this stuffed acorn squash with curried seitan and okra
And I’m starting to get more creative in the kitchen. Which is fun and rewarding. Which again, leaves me with no void to fill, no real reason to comfort eat.
Now, it is midterms week, and I have made one promise to myself. I will not restrict, and I will not over-indulge. I know I’m going to want chocolate, and all kinds of sweet things in the middle of the night. So I’ll have a small taste, but try my best to leave it at that. I will fuel myself with delicious, good nutrients, as I know I will feel better in the long run – and most likely have more energy.
I’d love to hear some thoughts on how you deal with cravings.
Do you listen to every little thing impulse you have?
Are there certain cravings that you know are only comfort related?
How do you exercise your self-control without going too far?