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Creating Good Habits and Limiting Craving's Power (Part I)

**Disclaimer: I realize that unfortunately there are people in our community who may not have the resources available to them to have access to proper nutritious and helpful foods. There are also people who, although they have the financial capacity to acquire nutritious foods, may see food in general as a stressor or a trigger for unpleasant reactions or thoughts.

Please see this series as simply a guide to be observed as just that. You are not a failure if you cannot or do not make these suggestions a part of your life.

Simply continue to do the best that you can manage every day. That is enough.

French fries are quite possibly my greatest weakness when it comes to resisting food temptations. But cravings can be more than just food-related. It could be binging a television series much longer than would be considered a reasonable amount. It could be much more serious such as alcohol, drugs, or other forms of self-sabotage.

Please Note: During this article, and in keeping with the nutrition-themed series, I will only be addressing some suggestions to help with food and exercise based cravings and habits. If there are some more serious substance abuse issues you or a loved one in the Greater Victoria region may be struggling with please check out Recovery Works to see if there may be a suitable program to help.

This article is also a bit more detailed so it will be divided into two parts over this week and next week. Be sure to read them both!

There are so many reasons why we crave food. Stress, hormones, vitamin or mineral deficiency, dehydration, and even something as simple as boredom. It may be difficult to pinpoint what exactly could be triggering a craving at any given point, but giving yourself the space to think a moment before indulging can be very revealing. When there are reasons and triggers along the lines of mental illnesses, taking a moment to step back and internally question why it is you want something may seem like a luxury you cannot grasp. That is ok. The next moment you have some clarity of mind to reflect, perhaps you will be able to ask yourself some of the questioned mentioned here. Before ordering the fries, opening the second chocolate bar, or reaching for a doughnut, try asking yourself these questions. And be kind about it! There is no judgment here, so there is no need to be hard on yourself.

  • Have I had enough water today? Am I thirsty?

When there are no real external or internal stressors occurring, often what our brains translate as hunger signals is actually our body crying out for water. Water is definitely less exciting than a delicious snack or treat, but give it a shot some time. Your body will thank you and so will your mind as your brain needs to stay hydrated to help stave off fatigue and brain fog. We should be getting 8 cups a day, but don't feel anxious about it, just do your best to drink a little more each day. And no, coffee doesn't count as the caffeine actually dehydrates you!

  • Did something happen that stressed me out? Am I stress-eating?

Rough day at the office. A miscommunication with a friend. An argument with a loved one. Overwhelmed with world affairs. Burdened with depression. There are so many stressors out there just waiting to get the better of us. Each day is a battle for our attention and our state of mind is constantly at risk. And as much as it may be something you have heard too much ( I know I have), it still rings true: you cannot change someone's actions, but you can change your reaction. That is to say within your own bounds. Being someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, I often feel out of control of my reactions. However, there are clear moments, hours, days that I am fortunate to have where I can reflect and work on putting mental systems in play that I can fall back on during the darker times. So how does this work with food?

Start with the triggers you know. The ones that you can predict or that happen regularly. For example; weekly deadlines, meeting with your therapist, walks to the grocery store, or family gatherings.

You know they are coming up. If you tend to stress eat then you can guess that you will be reaching for some comfort foods. Try putting some deliberate action plans in place for these times. Have a friend you can call. Have snacks ready that are healthier options. Trying to stop stress eating all together will only backfire, but if you can substitute crunchy salty chips for crunchy celery with some salty peanut butter, or sweet pastries for a fruity muffin then you will be that much better off.

Perhaps most importantly, take a few breaths in the morning and acknowledge that there could be some rollercoasters during the day, and whatever happens, you will be gentle on yourself regardless of taking charge of the stress eating or not. being hard on yourself, only causing more stress and thereby creating a tougher cycle to get out of.

Those first two questions will be a huge step if you are able to find moments of self-awareness to have these mental check-ins with your body and your spirit.

Next week we will be looking at the following:

  • Am I bored or overtired? Am I eating absentmindedly?

  • For those of us with ovaries; Am I nearing or on my period? Are hormones taking over?

  • Am I getting enough vitamins and minerals? Are my eating habits helping or hurting me?

I will also give you some food substitution suggestions as to the possible vitamin or mineral your body may be asking for by triggering those cravings.

Until then, Wishing you health and peace,


© 2020 Go With Goals

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