I have just about finished my manuscript describing my two-plus year journey to looking and feeling healthy and fit. So, I have passed it along to a few friends willing to be critical editors. One of them reached out to me yesterday to ask why I don’t talk about cravings in the book.
The reason is because I don’t really experience cravings. And the reason behind that is because if I want something, I eat it. Simple.
All right, maybe that deserves a bit more explanation. In the past, if I had a craving, I did everything in my power to resist it. I refused, absolutely refused to give in. I would torture myself watching other people eating and enjoying what I couldn’t and I felt resentful and sorry for myself. My feelings of self-denial and resentment and my craving would build to a big crescendo inside my brain until that inevitable moment of weakness came.
My moments of weakness tended to look alike. They were always when I was alone because I didn’t want my family to see me eating what I shouldn’t. After all, I was cheating, I was being a bad person, so I needed to hide this terrible thing I was doing from them.
I had a switch in my food brain that allowed me two options. When it was in the on position, I rigidly followed a strict and tasteless “diet.” When it was off, I could eat anything I wanted in any amount I wanted. Because I knew that the “off switch” would turn back on, I crammed whatever I was craving in my mouth. A small bowl of Graeter’s Salted Caramel Chip wouldn’t do—I needed to eat the whole pint. After that (“Oh, good! The “off switch hasn’t turned back on!”) I looked around for whatever else I could enjoy in this great food windfall. I ended up feeling stuffed and guilty and ashamed. It was a terrible way to feel and a terrible way to live.
Switch to now. If a craving hits, it doesn’t have time to set up shop inside my food brain. I plan for it and I enjoy it with my family. I eat slowly, and I don’t eat much. I have learned to savor the moment, make it sensuous and important. I have learned to appreciate the indulgence. The entire experience of satisfying a craving is steeped in positive feelings. I embrace not just the treat itself, but the way I feel as I’m treating myself.
Amazingly, I don’t feel the need to repeat the experience the next hour or the next day. Satisfying a craving this way is—well—satisfying!