How to consciously manage your food cravings

In 2019, Dr Forman published the monitoring results of a larger randomized controlled trial of 190 people, which found that participants...


In 2019, Dr Forman published the monitoring results of a larger randomized controlled trial of 190 people, which found that participants who practiced acceptance and mindfulness strategies were twice as likely to have maintained a 10% weight loss after three years as those which mainly focused on resisting temptation and suppressing food thoughts.

“Surprisingly, there was a great benefit in people’s quality of life which was somewhat unexpected,” said Dr. Forman. “It also benefited their well-being and their emotional state. “

For this week’s Eat Well Challenge, try these acceptance and mindfulness techniques to focus on cravings. (Times subscribers can sign up for the Eat Well Challenge via the Well newsletter and receive additional advice by sending the word “Hi” to 917-810-3302 for a link to join.)

Food cravings are fleeting, and some research suggests they peak around 5 minutes. “Riding the emergency” means “riding the wave” of your thoughts, feelings and desires rather than acting on them, and it is an effective strategy often used to treat substance use. Follow these four steps.

  • Pay attention to what happens next. Notice the urge as it rises, rises, falls and falls. Note the intensity of an overwhelming urge. “I want to eat crisps. It started off as a 5, but now it’s a 7. ”

“Our cravings inevitably rise and fall, just like waves in an ocean,” Dr. Forman said. “Trying to fight this wave will never work. It doesn’t work if you want the urge to go away. You accept that he’s there, and even that he’s meant to be there, and you coexist – surf – with him.

It’s okay to eat a food you crave, unless it becomes a problem for you. Dr Judson Brewer, associate professor at Brown University School of Public Health, who created a mindfulness app called Eat now, told the story of a patient who regularly ate a bag full of chips while watching a favorite TV show with her daughter.

Instead of discouraging her from eating the crisps, Dr Brewer advised her to watch every crisps she ate and notice how many crisps it takes to feel satisfied. A few weeks later, the woman reported that she had slowly reduced her crisps habit, and now her craving was satisfied after the second crisps.

“She could eat two and be done,” Dr Brewer said.

Dr Brewer said mindfulness can help people cope with food cravings without having to give up a favorite food altogether. “It’s not that we can never have a chocolate chip cookie,” Dr. Brewer said. “But when I eat one, I’m really careful. I like it and I ask myself, “Do I need more? “

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