It’s been suggested what most of us believe to be hunger is a learned response, a psychological security blanket to comfort ourselves in times of stress, frustration, or boredom. Sometimes it’s specific in nature—when you want something sweet, or fried, or fatty. Other times, it results from a behavioral trigger, like hearing the opening theme song of your favorite TV show and heading to the fridge to find something to eat.
And with the media pounding our brains with images of sugary snacks, two-for-one specials, and calorie-laden meal deals, it’s a bit of a challenge to remind ourselves these options offer little in the form of basic building blocks of a healthy diet.
So what can we do when a desperate craving takes us in the direction of toxic food?
We can reframe our choices.
Think about it: When was the last time you had a “craving” for a bowl of fresh fruit, a glass of water, or steamed veggies? The good news is you can re-train yourself, and your taste buds, to do just that. The concept is based on rewiring your mindset with an understanding of the importance of fueling and strengthening your body with food that’s good for you.
Yes, that bag of salty, sour cream potato chips looks and sounds delicious But if you’re in it for the long run and your goal is to be healthy, fit, and strong, it’s time to take control of what you eat. And that means replacing harmful junk food with healthy options. So throw out the chips and use the following tips to get you off the Fake Hunger hamster wheel:
When hunger strikes, pour yourself a glass of filtered water and drink it. If you’re still hungry, grab a piece of fruit or a snack-pack of pre-cut veggies. Eat and drink slowly, deliberately, and ignore the nagging voice tempting you with visions of sugary, greasy, fat-soaked garbage designed to destroy your body with an addictive “quick fix” of toxins.
Start by substituting a few items at a time—a banana instead of a muffin, a veggie salad instead of a candy bar, a few ounces of pumpkin seeds instead of cookies.
Eliminate gluten-filled breads, rolls, chips, and cakes. You can find gluten-free options in most stores and, thankfully, more restaurants. Better yet, bake your own using non-gluten ingredients like almond, coconut, and rice flours.
Use smaller plates and bowls for reduced portions. If you really think you need more food, you’ll be forced to get up and fix it. Chances are, you’ll decide you’ve had enough and will avoid overeating.
Eliminate high sodium counts which may cause inflammation, bloating, and increased blood pressure. Read the label of every food item you have in your home, and toss the ones that no longer fit your healthy lifestyle.
Prepare good-for-you options ahead of time. Pre-cut fresh fruit and veggies and store them in the fridge. Prepare small ready-to-go salads and light dressings (you only need a little, or better yet, brighten the flavor with a squeeze of lemon juice).
Finally, realize your craving for food may have nothing to do with being hungry. Attempting to offset boredom and stress with food is a fast-track to putting on extra pounds, which in turn, creates more frustration and stress, which continues to feed the cycle. You can break the sequence by pursuing other interests. For example, read a book, listen to a podcast, take a short walk, or call a friend and chat. And if you really want to fill the time productively, try meditation, Yoga, or stretching exercises.
Start small, start easy. And start now!
Keep it healthy,