Cravings


Today’s workout: 20 mins ET Level 2, 40 mins weights & abs with trainer.

Today’s walks: once around the block, after both breakfast and lunch.

Results of the fullness experiment: As described on Day 18, I’ve been trying the brisk walk after meals. Walking after breakfast was quite easy, but then my breakfast is very small. Surprisingly, I could feel the difference between walking after breakfast and after the slightly larger meal at lunch. But I also had no trouble walking briskly, so I think I ate an appropriate amount. I will not walk after dinner…too dark, cold, and icy out there these days.

Today’s task: Stop Fooling Yourself

I love this Day! However, the first time I went through the book, I was intimidated by it. Don’t worry…you’re not expected to quit fooling yourself in one day. It will take time. Today’s the day you create the anti-self-delusional Response Card.

Where do you fool yourself that it’s OK to eat something that’s not good for your diet?

• I’ll only eat it just this once. I’ll be good tomorrow.

• It’s just the crumbs.

• I’m too upset (busy, tired, etc.) to worry about what I eat on top of everything else.

• Everyone else is eating it…I deserve to eat it, too.

• I’m celebrating.

• I’ll never get the chance to try this amazing food again.

• I’m craving it, and I’ll end up eating it eventually anyway.

Dr. Beck calls these “fake” reasons for eating. There’s a much longer list in the book. The first time I read the list, I thought some of these were perfectly legitimate reasons for eating!

I love this Day because it really digs into the nitty-gritty of Cognitive Therapy. I believe that we sometimes eat because we simply want to, we can’t be bothered to resist in the moment, and we use one of these thoughts to allow the eating.

It can be hard to fight back against these thoughts and accept the fact that wrong eating is NOT OK, even if it means feeling deprived, missing out on free food, feeling alienated from your family or friends because you’re not eating with them, and so on. Losing food as a best friend and comforter is not easy. These feelings get weaker over time, every time you make it through them without eating. At first, I thought I would never get to the point where I consistently could go without eating unplanned food, and I’m still not there yet, but my confidence is increasing over time. That’s how it works.

Here’s the Response Card that Dr. Beck recommends reading every single day:

“It’s NOT OK to eat unplanned food of any kind. I’m just trying to fool myself. Every single time I eat something I’m not supposed to, I strengthen my giving-in muscle and weaken my resistance muscle. I might feel good for the few seconds I’m eating, but I’ll feel bad afterwards. If I want to lose excess weight and keep it off, I absolutely must stop fooling myself.”

Cravings update: I’m feeling pretty good today, not in danger of craving. At the gym last night, while stretching my tight muscles, I thought that a craving kind of feels like a cramp. The end of a craving sure feels like the release of a cramped muscle. My body feels like it does after a good cry. That’s how I feel this morning. Maybe the cardio reset my system…maybe physical activity is a good way to counteract whatever’s causing me to have these cravings. One more reason to exercise.

Today’s To-Do List:

✓ I read my Advantages and NO CHOICE Response Cards at least twice today.

✓ I made and read other Response Cards as needed.

✓ I ate slowly, sitting down, and noticing every bite: All of the time.

✓ I gave myself credit for engaging in helpful eating behaviors: Some of the time.

✓ I did spontaneous exercise: twice

✓ I did planned exercise.

✓ I wrote out a food plan for tomorrow.

✓ I monitored everything in writing right after I finished eating.

✓ I ate only to normal fullness (and checked my stomach by taking a brisk walk after each meal).

✓ I created an It’s Not OK Response Card.

Today I give myself credit for:

☆ Making lots of new Response Cards.

☆ Exercising 3 days in a row without worsening any of my injuries.

☆ Eating the exact lunch I planned, even though I had an urge to change some of the ingredients.

☆ Identifying and responding to some of my sneakiest sabotaging thoughts.

☆ Going to the grocery store to purchase the foods I had planned to eat.

Benefits:

♡ My pants are looser.

♡ My stomach is flatter and my waist appears smaller.

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Today’s workout: None, despite making myself accountable on my blog.

Today’s walk: None. Using icy sidewalks as an excuse. (Although falling and re-spraining my back really wouldn’t be a good thing.)

Today’s task: End Overeating

At first, I thought that this Day was contradictory. On Days 11 and 12, we were supposed to learn not to respond to hunger signals. Today, we’re supposed to learn how to sense our body’s fullness signal and stop eating. Are we supposed to listen to our body’s signals or not? Is Dr. Beck trying to have it both ways?

Now that I’ve reread the book a few times, it’s starting to make sense. Dr. Beck doesn’t say to ignore hunger, just to be able to respond appropriately (i.e. stick to your plan instead of eating every time you want to). Today’s task is just the other side of the coin…responding appropriately while and after eating.

The specific exercise is to serve yourself extra food and leave it on your plate. I’ve already started doing this on my own! Since starting my diet, I have not finished all of my meals, even though I have the “right” to that food on my plan. I’ve started cutting my restaurant meals in half and having it for lunch the next day. When my plate comes with something I’m not supposed to have, I push it to one side and don’t eat it. So I’m not going to perform this actual exercise today. But I’m glad to be reminded that this is an important skill that I may need to work on again someday.

Cravings update: I’m still in craving mode. After resisting yesterday morning’s strong craving, I’ve been having little nagging, fleeting cravings, and again it’s for foods I normally don’t even think about…fried potatoes with onions and cheese, shrimp scampi. There’s definitely something hormonal going on. I feel as if I’m in danger of wrong eating today, and I don’t like that feeling.

[from the Credit Where Credit Is Due Dept.: Frances Kuffel used the term “wrong eating” in Angry Fat Girls, and I decided I liked this wonderfully descriptive term better than “bingeing” or whatever. I beg Frances’s indulgence in using this term myself.]

Sabotaging thought: I don’t want to have to deal with this feeling of constantly resisting cravings. It’s uncomfortable. It’s too hard. I feel like giving up my diet just so I won’t have to deal with this feeling.

Helpful response: If I distract myself, this feeling will pass. If I eat, the cravings will come back anyway, and I’ll be strengthening my giving-in muscle. Right now is the most important time not to give up! Dieting is hard sometimes, but there’s no reason for that to stop me. It will get easier if I exercise my resistance muscle now!

Sabotaging thought: I’m way too weak for dieting. I’ll never be able to do this. I may as well quit now and save myself the trouble.

Helpful response: My therapist says that confidence comes from doing, not just thinking about it. All I have to do is keep doing what I’ve been doing. I AM STRONG!

Update: Craving mode continued throughout the morning, then seemed to ease up in the early afternoon. I was talking to a couple of coworkers about our workloads and stress symptoms. I think cravings—and eating—may be one of my symptoms. Hmm…I think I’d rather have carpal tunnel syndrome or acid reflux. Knowing it’s caused by stress helps me want to resist. Just because a stupid symptom appears doesn’t mean I have to participate.

Today’s To Do List:

✓ I read my Advantages List at least twice today.

✗ I made and read other Response Cards as needed.

✓ I ate slowly, sitting down and noticing every bite: Some of the time.

✗ I did spontaneous exercise: No.  

✗ I did planned exercise: No.

✗ I wrote out a food plan for tomorrow.

✓ I monitored everything I ate in writing.

Today I give myself credit for:

☆ Resisting another Taco Bell craving last night. (Although the drive-thru guy was pretty confused when I drove away without ordering anything.)

☆ Continuing to increase my awareness of cravings and sabotaging thoughts.

Chinese food…Mai Tais…just typing the words is making me hungry. The craving actually started developing yesterday I think. Could have been triggered by walking past a Chinese restaurant this weekend. It really set in this morning, just after I made a solemn vow about stopping the wine that’s really not on my diet. Aaand now I’m craving not only fattening food, but alcohol. Hmmmmm. Sneaky, aren’t you, my little cravings?

Time to dig out the ol’ chart.

──

Winkie’s Cravings Rating Chart
Day/Time Discomfort Level (0 – 10) How Long Did it Last? Anti-Craving Techniques Used
1/28/10

12:00 PM

4 almost 2 hours Deciding not to eat the craved food; imagining the consequences of doing so (massive bloating, regaining weight that I’ve worked hard to lose); reading my advantages aloud; eating a planned snack that’s not a craving trigger; doing the breathing relaxation exercise; working

──

I think I’m out of the woods now. There’s something I’ve known about my cravings for a while. Most, not all, of the time, the sooner I give into a craving, the faster it goes away and the less food it takes. For example, if I craved chocolate, I’d eat a small piece to make the craving go away, and deduct the calories somewhere else. Just a bite of perfect chocolate would do it. By contrast, if I resisted the craving, it just got stronger. If I resisted the craving for 3 or 4 days, I’d not only be miserable for 3 or 4 days, the craving would grow to be truly irresistible, and it would take several ounces of chocolate before I came up for air. Trying to resist just didn’t seem worth it.

Other times, as with this Chinese craving I had, I know I’d eat a large amount of it. It’s as if the craving is for a quantity as well as a specific food.

Since I’m now overweight, I have to admit that my old strategy didn’t work in the long run! Dr. Beck’s strategy is to resist every craving, every time. I’m giving it my best shot.

Yes…posted on the same day as the previous post. Almost as soon as I started the Hunger Tolerance exercise, a craving for Taco Bell set in. Bad. And Cosmos or wine. So I’m doing to do the Cravings Rating Chart from Day 13 at the same time. Get it over with in one painful day.

Today’s task: Overcome Cravings

Today’s task involves resisting a craving using cognitive (mindset) and behavioral techniques (which are described in full in the book), and recording all of this on a chart.

Here are some of the lovely things that happen to me when I have a craving:

☠ Feeling of discomfort and tension all over my body

☠ Mouth watering

☠ Physical sensations…feeling like I can taste, feel, and smell the food even though it’s nowhere in my environment

☠ Crappy mood, feeling impatient and grouchy

☠ Reduced physical energy. Don’t feel like doing anything that doesn’t involve getting the craved food.

I’ve had cravings that come and go for 3 or 4 days. Four days is the longest I’ve been able to go resisting a craving for much of my waking hours. In the aftermath of resisting an instance of a craving, I feel physically exhausted…I still kinda want to eat the food anyway.

Sabotaging thought: Dr. Beck says that resisting cravings will make them milder and less frequent over time, but I don’t think that will be the case for me. It wasn’t in the past. I may as well eat the craved food and get it over with.

Helpful response: I have more tools at my disposal now, like the BDS book, my coaches and my blog. Learning to tolerate my cravings is crucial to getting the things on my Advantages List. I need to give this my best shot.

──

Winkie’s Cravings Rating Chart

Day/Time

Discomfort Level (0 – 10) How Long Did it Last? Anti-Craving Techniques Used
1/23/10

11:45 a.m.

8 Almost an hour Going to a yarn store; imagining the aftermath of giving in; reading the BDS chapter on cravings; texting my diet coach that I was having the craving but wouldn’t give into it; reading weight-loss blogs; writing on my blog; using the relaxation breathing technique
1/23/10

2:00 p.m.

4 15 minutes Just deciding not to eat the craved food; reading blogs
1/23/10

2:30 p.m.

2 15 minutes Taking a nap

──

What I learned: Dr. Beck wins this one, so far. By 4 p.m., the craving was totally out of my system. The idea of eating anything from Taco Bell was gross. It is gross! We’ll see what happens tomorrow, or whenever my next craving is.

Today’s workout: None…should have gone today, but just didn’t have the energy. I must go both Saturday and Sunday.

Today’s walk: To the Post Office at the end of the street and back, navigating black ice along the way.

Today’s task: Differentiate Between Hunger, Desire, and Cravings

Today’s task ranks with Day 4 in importance and difficulty. And it’s something we all have to work on on an ongoing basis.

Cravings are a huge challenge for me. I’ve woken up at 7 AM on Saturday morning with a craving for buffalo wings so strong that I could feel the vinegar burning the inside of my nostrils before I was even fully awake. (And no,  I don’t keep an open bottle of vinegar in my bedroom.)  If you’ve never woken up on Saturday morning and the first thing you do is look at the clock and count the hours until the buffalo wing restaurants open, then please don’t lecture me about cravings. Just give thanks. OK? OK.

For most of my life, I didn’t understand people who said, “I eat when I’m not hungry…I don’t know why I’m munching on this, I’m not even hungry.” I’ve always thought that I was hungry when I ate, and when I’m not hungry anymore, I stop eating because I no longer enjoy it. If anything, from my own observation, I’m more uncomfortable than most people before I finally allow myself to eat. I say that because I’ve never said, “I don’t know why I’m eating this; I’m not even hungry,” or, “I’m still eating even though I’m full.” I usually say, “I’m really hungry!” Otherwise, I don’t eat.

When I eat, I’m feeling a definite feeling in my stomach that I associate with hunger, and/or my mouth is watering at the very idea of food. That’s got to be a sign that my body is asking for something, right?

Well, my weight shows that it’s not right. I’m consuming too many calories.

A few weeks ago, my therapist blew my mind, in a good way. She said, “What is hunger, anyway?”

I’ve been so protective of my own definition of hunger, that during the past 2 years I practiced the BDS without losing any weight. I need to review this definition.

In the past, I’ve read writers like Geneen Roth, who recommend eating in accordance with hunger cues, but that’s never worked for me. I was hungry and I ate, unlike most of the women who found that they didn’t feel hungry when they were freed to follow their own cues, and ate less.

I thought there was something wrong with me for being hungry…now I’m willing to investigate how I’m interpreting my own hunger. That’s what today’s experiment is about.

I will monitor my hunger before, during, and after every meal. My results will be skewed, because I’m on the South Beach Diet, which gives me a lot of protein, which controls my appetite/hunger. I may have to repeat today’s exercise when I’m faced with a situation like travel, when I can’t get enough protein and my hunger will feel different.

Today’s To-Do List:

✓ I read my Advantages list at least twice today

✓ I made and read other Response Cards as needed

✓ I ate slowly, sitting down, and noticing every bite: All 3 meals. I allowed snacks at the computer.

✓ I gave myself credit when I engaged in helpful eating behaviors: Every time.

✓ I did spontaneous exercise: Once.

✗ I did planned exercise:

✓ I rated my hunger (or planned a day to do so) on a hunger monitoring chart.

──

Time How My Stomach Feels Strength of Hunger (0 – 10)
Before Breakfast Slightly empty 3
Midway through breakfast Getting fuller, losing interest in eating 1
Immediately after breakfast Full, but not stuffed 0
20 minutes after breakfast The same as immediately after breakfast 0
Before lunch Hungry, but not too uncomfortable; focus dropping a little. Feeling a desire to have my favorite salad for lunch. 5
Midway through lunch Full, even though I haven’t finished my salad (I usually do). Decided to have a couple more bites of the tuna, since I’m supposed to have the protein on my diet, and stop. 0
Immediately after lunch Definitely full. My waistband feels tight. Glad I didn’t keep eating, but I “miss” my salad now, so I think I’m still desiring it. 0!
20 minutes after lunch Full. I keep getting confusing waves of hunger in the upper part of my stomach, even though I know my stomach is physically full. I will not respond to these passing waves by eating more, however. 0
Before dinner Much hungrier than I was earlier in the day, even though I’ve had 2 meals and 2 snacks. In fact, I’m just as hungry as I was this time yesterday having skipped lunch! When I’m this hungry, I always get something to eat pretty quickly. 7
Midway through dinner My hunger calmed down right away when I started to eat. 3
Immediately after dinner Still hungry, but I don’t think I should eat more. I don’t feel a strong desire to keep eating because I enjoyed my food so much. I’ll wait 20 minutes. 3
20 minutes after dinner Satisfied, but still a little hungry in my stomach. No strong desire to eat more. I think my stomach is physically full, and I’ll eventually feel satisfied. 1

──

What I learned: Sometimes my hunger signals don’t make “sense” based on what I’ve been eating. I don’t know if this will change as I get better at noticing my hunger and eating a healthier diet. It definitely means I don’t need to eat every time I get hungry. I need to decide what and when to eat with my brain, not just my intuition.

──

Today I give myself credit for:

☆ Getting much better at “only eating while eating.” I’m starting to enjoy the chance to be spend some time alone with my food!

☆ Cooking all 3 of my own meals today and eating them at the table. Cleaning up each time!

☆ Trying a new, healthy recipe!

☆ Getting out and walking when my mind started to wander from work.

☆ Resisting a craving for wine.

Today’s workout: To come

Today’s walk: To come

Today’s task: Differentiate Between Hunger, Desire, and Cravings

Today’s task ranks with Day 4 in importance and difficulty. And it’s something we all have to work on on an ongoing basis.

Cravings are a huge challenge for me. I’ve woken up at 7 AM on Saturday morning with a craving for buffalo wings so strong that I could feel the vinegar burning the inside of my nostrils before I was even fully awake. (And no,  I don’t keep an open bottle of vinegar in my bedroom.)  If you’ve never woken up on Saturday morning and the first thing you do is look at the clock and count the hours until the buffalo wing restaurants open, then please don’t lecture me about cravings. Just give thanks. OK? OK.

For most of my life, I didn’t understand people who said, “I eat when I’m not hungry…I don’t know why I’m munching on this, I’m not even hungry.” I’ve always thought that I was hungry when I ate, and when I’m not hungry anymore, I stop eating because I no longer enjoy it. If anything, from my own observation, I’m more uncomfortable than most people before I finally allow myself to eat. I say that because I’ve never said, “I don’t know why I’m eating this; I’m not even hungry,” or, “I’m still eating even though I’m full.” I usually say, “I’m really hungry!” Otherwise, I don’t eat.

When I eat, I’m feeling a definite feeling in my stomach that I associate with hunger, and/or my mouth is watering at the very idea of food. That’s got to be a sign that my body is asking for something, right?

Well, my weight shows that it’s not right. I’m consuming too many calories.

A few weeks ago, my therapist blew my mind, in a good way. She said, “What’s hunger, anyway?”

I’ve been so protective of my own definition of hunger, that during the past 2 years I practiced the BDS without losing any weight. I need to review this definition.

In the past, I’ve read writers like Geneen Roth, who recommend eating in accordance with hunger cues, but that’s never worked for me. I was hungry and I ate, unlike most of the women who found that they didn’t feel hungry when they were freed to follow their own cues, and ate less.

I thought there was something wrong with me for being hungry…now I’m willing to investigate how I’m interpreting my own hunger. That’s what today’s experiment is about.

I will monitor my hunger before, during, and after every meal. My results will be skewed, because I’m on the South Beach Diet, which gives me a lot of protein, which controls my appetite/hunger. I may have to repeat today’s exercise when I’m faced with a situation like travel, when I can’t get enough protein and my hunger will feel different.

Today’s To-Do List:

I read my Advantages list at least twice today

I made and read other Response Cards as needed

I ate slowly, sitting down, and noticing every bite:

I gave myself credit when I engaged in helpful eating behaviors:

I did spontaneous exercise:

I did planned exercise:

I rated my hunger (or planned a day to do so) on a hunger monitoring chart.

Update:

Wow, I already have to take myself up on my offer to repeat a day!

I started doing the hunger chart, but it didn’t go well. I kept forgetting to take note of my hunger when I was supposed to. I also was having trouble sensing my hunger signals….I felt pretty similar before and after a meal.

I ate less than usual today. I imagine my hunger will be sharper and easier to interpret tomorrow when I repeat the experiment.

I didn’t do well today on any of my dieting behaviors…didn’t read Response Cards…ate in front of the computer…didn’t walk or work out. Partly it was due to feeling overwhelmed by work and tired due to not sleeping well last night, but I must keep practicing these behaviors until I can do them under all conditions! It IS possible! If I were good at this stuff, I wouldn’t be overweight right now. But I’m learning!

Here’s to a good rest tonight and a better tomorrow!