CONQUERING CRAVINGS

EATING BEHAVIORS

  • Binge-Eating-  eating a large volume of food within a short period of time (to the point of discomfort and pain); a loss of control; extreme guilt and shame afterwards
  • Compulsive Eating - eating a large volume of food (beyond the point of satiety) over a more extended period of time (e.g., throughout the day); guilt and shame is present

 

  • Emotional Eating - most likely eating not due to physical hunger while eating in response to stress or to soothe negative emotions.
  • Mindful Eating -  eating in a state of awareness; most likely sitting down and savoring food over a short yet extended period of time.  See below.

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

WE LIVE TOO FAST

  • Average American spends 1 hour per day eating all of their meals combined (vs. other cultures).
  • 46% of Americans eat meals in isolation.
  • “Family dinners” have decreased.
  • Numerous individuals multi-task when eating meals/snacks.
  • 1 out 3 Americans consume fast food on a daily basis.
  • We don’t know what it feels like to ENJOY or SAVOR our food.   

WE CAN’T STOP

  • There may be certain genes or traits that may cultivate greater risk/desire to eat or eat hyperpalatable foods (e.g., impulsive)
  • Habitual wiring - clean your plate club, food as the standard reward, etc.
  • Emotional states or certain feelings that aren’t being addressed or worked though.
  • History of dieting, restricting, deprivation.

RULE OUT THE PHYSICAL

(Where is the craving or desire to eat coming from?)

  • Hungry - honor eating
  • Low blood sugar - honor eating
  • Thirsty - may need liquids/water vs. food
  • Tired - may need to rest/sleep vs. eat

IT IS TIME TO SLOW DOWN

During the stress response, immune cells are released and adrenal glands release cortisol. This causes an increase of cardiac output, elevated blood glucose, increase in heart rate, increased blood pressure, and a decreased blood flow to the GI tract. Our bodies better digest and absorb food when one is in a rested and calm state. In addition, the brain needs at least 20 minutes to recognize what nutrients are being consumed. REST & DIGEST.

MINDFUL EATING

Mindful eating is a supportive practice that has been correlated with a decrease in binge-eating, less emotional eating and greater cognitive restraint.  When mindful eating, one would most likely be sitting down as well as spending at least 20-30 minutes eating. There are five different components of the MINDFUL EATING PLATE (Susan Albers PsyD 2012) that are worth considering:

  • IN-THE-MOMENT - be fully present; turn off the tv; sit down; when you eat, just eat
  • OBSERVATION - notice your body; check in with your hunger cues; notice energy levels; notice mood and/or emotions; recognize stress level
  • AWARENESS - are you tasting your food or are you mindlessly munching?
  • SAVOR - smell your food; notice your food; notice the textures; pay attention to the flavors
  • NON-JUDGEMENT - speak compassionately and mindfully towards yourself; practice gratitude; notice when “shoulds” or rigid rules pop into your mind
  • See www.eatingmindfully.com for more

 

THE HUNGER & FULLNESS SCALE

Using the hunger and fullness scale allows you to stay connected to your body while honoring when it is hungry and full.  Use this scale before, during and throughout a meal.

 

  1. Starving.  Ravenous. I feel weak, low energy and grouchy.
  2. Uncomfortably hungry and famished.  I am thinking a lot about food.
  3. Pretty hungry / hungry.  I want to eat now.
  4. Starting to feel hungry.
  5. Neutral.  Neither hungry or full.
  6. Okay, slightly full.  I feel as if I just ate a snack.  I could still eat a few more bites.
  7. Satisfied.  I am not hungry or too full.  Satiated.
  8. Comfortably full.  I feel as if I just ate a solid meal
  9. Very full.  I may have ate more than I should have.
  10. Overstuffed.  I am very uncomfortable - so full I feel sick.  

 

 

THE HUNGER & FULLNESS SCALE

Using the hunger and fullness scale allows you to stay connected to your body while honoring when it is hungry and full.  Use this scale before, during and throughout a meal.

  1. Starving.  Ravenous. I feel weak, low energy and grouchy.
  2. Uncomfortably hungry and famished.  I am thinking a lot about food.
  3. Pretty hungry / hungry.  I want to eat now.
  4. Starting to feel hungry.
  5. Neutral.  Neither hungry or full.
  6. Okay, slightly full.  I feel as if I just ate a snack.  I could still eat a few more bites.
  7. Satisfied.  I am not hungry or too full.  Satiated.
  8. Comfortably full.  I feel as if I just ate a solid meal
  9. Very full.  I may have ate more than I should have.
  10. Overstuffed.  I am very uncomfortable - so full I feel sick.  

SUPPORTIVE COPING SKILLS

  • BREATHING and/or MEDITATION.  Breathing exercises can lower the stress response in the body and calm down the vagus nerve.  
  • SEEK SUPPORT.  Some may need to work with a therapist and/or treatment team to work through various things such as trauma, PTSD, etc.
  • GRATITUDE.  When practicing gratitude (giving thanks and appreciation), one can’t feel a negative emotion at the same time.  Use a gratitude journal on a daily basis.
  • 20-25 MINUTE ACTIVITY.  Do something different for 20-25 minutes when an urge is happening - get outside, journal, knit, color, etc. 

RECOMMEND READING

  • Intuitive Eating by Elyse Resch & Evelyn Tribole
  • The Slow Down Diet by Marc David
  • Eating in the Light of the Moon by Anita Johnson
  • Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon