Mindfulness and Your Biggest Food Cravings

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Let’s talk about one of my former weaknesses from before my Health Coaching days - brownies. I have always had a bit of a sweet tooth, and loved to bake. After a long day, I would find solace in whipping up a batch of warm, flavorful brownies. There was something about the process that gave me peace, but ultimately the timer would go off and I would be overwhelmed with the desire to have a taste. And then another taste. And another. You get the idea. Once I got started, it was hard to stop. Sometimes I would go to bed with a stomach ache because I overdid it so much. After awhile, I knew I needed to do something different.

It’s easy to overdo it when we are faced with our favorite foods. They bring us happy memories from our childhood when we would stir together a batch of cookie dough with our family. Or remind us of celebrations. Many times it has very little to do with the food itself! For me, the warm and chewy brownie was the ultimate treat. The smell, taste, and texture gave me all kinds of good feelings.

So, what did I do? I started eating more mindfully. If I asked myself why I was craving that brownie, I would struggle to come up with a reason that had anything to do with the brownie. A lot of times, I was stressed out. Or tired. Or just looking for an outlet. Also, I realized that if the brownies were in the house, I would eat them regardless of whether I was hungry. So I stopped having the ingredients on hand and instead, took a walk. Or made a cup of tea with a drizzle of honey to satisfy my craving for sweets. 

If I was really wanting a brownie, I took on a new approach. I made a new personal rule that I could only eat brownies from a bakery. I’m talking super delicious, super decadent brownies that cost way too much to justify on a regular basis! As a health coach, I’m all about sustainable change. If you tell yourself you can never have a brownie - or whatever your weakness is - ever again. You will certainly fail at some point. If you give yourself permission to indulge once in awhile and have some parameters around it, you may find you don’t even want it.

What’s your biggest food craving? Next time you are craving it, consider asking yourself the following question: "why do I really want _____?” Consider that answer, and dig deeper. Ask yourself again, “why?” Think about what might be a good alternative. If you are craving something for an emotional reason, you will never fulfill that need with that food. You need to address what’s underneath the surface. Staying mindful of your food choices can be a good start and help you stay on track with your health goals as well!

Need help with your cravings? Set up a free one-on-one phone session with me and let’s talk about it! 

How your body tells you it is about to get sick!

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I rarely get sick any more, so I was surprised to find myself with a cold this past weekend. The thing was, my body had been sending me clues all week that it was about to get sick. Unfortunately, I ignored those signs. Could I have prevented getting sick altogether? Or at least shortened the cold? Possibly, but you never know. Still, it is a good reminder that our bodies DO tell us what they need. And it pays to listen and deliver on those needs.

Last week was a bit crazy. My phone died, which was stressful. I had some extra commitments throughout the week. And it was also my birthday. So naturally, that meant when I wasn’t working, I was packing my days with fun activities. There were long hikes, time out by the lake, extra dinners out at restaurants, and a few more sweets. 

I noticed, but ignored, the fact that I was feeling worn out. The alarm would go off in the morning, and I would groan, feeling like I needed more sleep. Throughout the day, I still felt tired and heavy, as though everything felt like an uphill climb. But, I couldn’t seem to prioritize rest. I didn’t try to get to bed earlier, fit in a nap, or say no to extra commitments. Also, I was craving spinach and broccoli. I remember wondering why I was wanting those foods so badly, and then eating something else. I broke one of my best food rules… if you crave a vegetable or fruit, go get it and eat it asap, because your body needs the vitamins and minerals that particular food provides! This rule does not apply to other cravings, however (sorry sweet tooth, I’m looking at you!)

 

Anyway, there were two pretty clear messages my body was sending me. I needed rest. And I needed some extra nutrition. I ignored the messages. The result? Sneezing, stuffed up nose, lost taste buds, sinus headache, and a nasty cough. Ugh.

Sometimes it is hard to listen to your body. You think you just can’t take a step back. You’re on deadline, have an important meeting, or don’t want to let someone down. But the truth is that our bodies cannot heal themselves if we don’t slow down. Coming from corporate America, I know all about the “powering through” mindset. When you don’t take a sick day because you MUST do this project, or attend this meeting, and finish this report. Powering through while sick will ensure only one or two outcomes - you won’t get better as fast as you could have, and you may get everyone else around you sick!If we are fighting off an illness, we need sleep. We need more restful activities vs. hustle and bustle. We need nutrient-rich food and lots of fluids. By slowing down when we first notice that our bodies are working harder, we can let them do what they are supposed to do - fight off illness, and bounce back a lot quicker. 

We can’t go back in time, but we can take care of ourselves now. So once I was sick, I prioritized rest, swapped walks for challenging gym workouts, prepared healthy meals with lots of veggies, and drank a lot of tea and water to help flush out all the toxins. I feel much better!

This cold and flu season, do yourself a favor and listen to your body more often. Rest when you notice you’re starting to feel run down, eat fruits and veggies if your body is demanding them, and drink lots of fluids. You may find yourself feeling better sooner than later.