What would your life look like if the cravings didn’t control you? Before succumbing to yet another food splurge, bloated and full of regret, remember one thing: Your cravings are trying to tell you something. (And it’s not what you think!) While it may seem that your cravings are the ultimate enemy, once you understand their underlying messages, you will gain the upper hand and become the boss of your cravings. In a humorous manner, Natalia shares her knowledge, tools and personal experiences that have helped her clients manage their appetites and lose weight. Her unique five step plan to take control will leave you empowered and ready to fire those health-sabotaging cravings.
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The Real Reason You Crave Food and a 5-Step Plan to Take Back Control
By Natalia Levey
Balboa PressCopyright © 2016 Natalia Levey
All rights reserved.
TERMINATION LETTER TO SELF-SABOTAGE
Have you been in a pattern of devouring health advice and going in full force only to crash and burn, back where you started or worse? I know the feeling. Once we look at the amazing cards in our hands, we go all in. We dive off the cliff of uncertainty and pick up speed as we implement positive changes. But eventually we fall. Hard.
Nope. Not this time. You are about to be armed with powerful tools and strategies that will prevent you from playing tug-of-war with your cravings. You can become the unstoppable force, the capable-of-anything-I-set-my-mind-to rockstar superhero you envision yourself to be.
It's time to say goodbye to self-sabotage. You are about to implement your new business plan. Take out your favorite colored pen and a piece of paper (pink works) — it's time to write the termination letter, boss.
It has come to my attention that your contributions to my life have inhibited my personal growth potential. Your efforts to disrupt and distract me from reaching my annual goals are no longer needed. You have worthlessly served me for [insert age] years. In fact, I've taken personal pay cuts in order to continually allocate funds that only benefitted your expanding power.
I no longer need your services. Your position has been terminated, effective immediately.
Your spot has been filled by a new, awesome force called Self-Respect.
I understand that being replaced by a super-intelligent awesomeness is going to totally crush you, and I am prepared to deal with your scheming ways to crawl back in. Take comfort in the knowledge that you, too, have great transformation potential.
I encourage you to sign up for the training sessions with Self-Respect.
All my best.
No longer yours truly,
[insert your name here]CHAPTER 2
POTENTIAL DANGERS OF OVEREATING
When I was pregnant and lived in New York City, the guy behind the counter at Häagen Dazs ice cream shop knew not only my name, but also my order. Weekly trips to that little corner shop led me to gain extra weight in my last trimester, and my doctor, beloved Jacques Moritz, threatened me with the possibility of gestational diabetes. Fortunately, my daughter was born a healthy 9 lbs 4 oz, and I quickly forgot about the threat of diabetes and carried on with my life. But I continued to indulge myself for years without thinking. I wish I had known then everything I know now.
The fact is, most of the time cravings lead to overeating. In fact, physical cravings- those that are triggered by imbalances in the body's physiology- often lead to serious food addictions. According to the Food Addiction Institute, "There is now more scientific verification for physical craving as a part of food addiction than there was for physical craving with regard to alcoholism and other drug addictions when they were first designated as substance use disorders."
Wouldn't it be great (and ultimately cheaper and healthier) if we instead had cravings for exercise, vegetables, or even drawing mandalas or watching squirrels? Once our bodies are reset and cleansed from candida, unhealthy gut bacteria, inflammation, it is possible to start having healthy cravings for green smoothies or certain vegetables or fruit.
The topic of food addictions still causes a lot of controversy among scientists, and the information presented in chapter "THE MANY CAUSES OF CRAVINGS and HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM" has been compiled from my research and observations. What I have learned is that each person's experience is truly individual and is based on factors such as age, gender, and individual biochemistry, among others.
Scientists have established that overeating can lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, fatty liver, heart disease, and many more serious conditions. That includes spending too much money on a larger-sized wardrobe and the pain of knowing that you're wearing your fat jeans, or something glamorously baggy. "Oversized sweaters are in, haven't you heard?"
Just like medications come with side effects and warning labels, so should food packages and commercials. Instead of the usual warnings in commercials, "If you are concerned about your ability to perform in the bedroom, talk to your doctor about [insert impotence medication here]. You may experience headache, stomach upset, back pain, dizziness, or an erection that lasts for days, etc.," why not a warning on food packaging and advertisements? "Consuming one serving of cookies may lead to impulsive feelings that cause you to devour the entire package at night when your family thinks you're in bed sleeping, leading to high blood sugar, diabetes, and possibly cardiovascular disease. Consult with your doctor before eating these cookies to determine whether you might be at risk."
Many functional medicine doctors today believe that food is medicine. Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. This form of integrative medicine is poised to change the way medicine is practiced. But most of us weren't raised to believe that food is medicine. How were you raised to think about food?
Food is just food. It keeps hunger at bay and brings families and friends together at the dinner table. Sometimes it comforts us after a stressful day, or maybe helps us get over a painful breakup. You've seen the all-too-familiar movie scene: "He broke up with me," says the woman while sitting in her living room in pajamas at three in the afternoon eating ice cream out of the carton, the room an explosion of pizza delivery boxes and tissues. This is hardly food as medicine.
While manufacturers spend millions of dollars creating foods that continually make us crave more and coming up with clever marketing campaigns to keep selling so-called "energy" foods, we are left to deal with our addictions and health consequences. Some commercials make foods look so good that you end up eating three bars in a row, only to crash an hour later.
Years ago I thought I had perfected my method of dealing with cravings: talk to myself sternly, make empty promises to not do it again, spend thirty extra minutes on the treadmill, work a lot from home, or not work at all, avoid seeing friends or putting on a bathing suit, and when all else fails, shop for larger sized clothes! It didn't occur to me back then to look at exactly what my cravings were or why they were happening.
This book contains a great deal of wisdom that I have accumulated over the years and have learned through my clients' and my own personal experiences. I am sharing this information with you because I wish I had learned it sooner. Some of the solutions are unconventional, but I promise it will be a fun experiment.CHAPTER 3
5-STEP PLAN TO TAKE BACK CONTROL
I hear so many marketing slogans: "Invest in your college education," "Invest in your retirement," "Invest in your future." What about investing in your health? Frankly, if you don't take care of your health, your college, adult, and golden years will be pretty lousy.
Think back to the last time you made a decision with misplaced conviction. "Yes, these shoes must become a part of my collection." Or "No, I'm too sick to go out. It's definitely the flu." Only too soon you realize that you don't have money for the heels or you're suddenly feeling better and can go out to that concert.
I know there have been many times that I've said yes to something but didn't really mean it. And those events, conversations, interactions, and visits made me feel miserable.
It's time to conjure up authentic conviction — the conviction that gets you out of bed every morning at 6 a.m. to face your day; the conviction that led you to exchange vows with your spouse; and the conviction that will keep you reading about how to be the boss of your cravings throughout this book.
This conviction that we all possess is what I'm calling out to right now. But it requires work. Come on, it's time to start flexing your muscles. I've got an exercise program for your conviction.
1. Be strong in your convictions. Sound confident when you say YES or NO to daily temptations. Say it like you mean it.
2. Be flexible. Understand that there will be times to bend the rules. Trees and buildings are designed to be flexible so they don't break in the wind. Your eating habits need to be flexible on occasion.
3. Find endurance. You are in it for the long haul. This is not a quick-fix diet. It's a lifestyle change that you take with you wherever you go. The rest of your life starts now.
Time is of the essence. The following plan will help you implement what you've learned and save you the time and suffering of giving in to your health-sabotaging cravings.
When you feel a craving come on, follow this 5-step plan. Let's call it "Cravings Operating Agreement."
1. Pause. Have a two-minute board meeting with yourself.
When you take a moment to pause, take in your surroundings, and notice what is going on in your body and mind, you will be better equipped to understand and deal with your craving. Mindless surrender to your cravings is a sure way to end up at the bottom of your snack pile, sticky and guilt-ridden. Take pause. Set your timer for two minutes. You need it to assess the situation. Once you take that first bite, it's all over and much harder to stop.
2. Examine the facts.
As you will learn in this book, there are fifteen different causes of cravings. Consider the possible reasons for your craving so that you can move forward appropriately. Once you've narrowed it down, flip back to the corresponding section and read about what solutions you can implement immediately or over time.
3. Pinpoint the trigger.
The trigger of your cravings is the moment when the specific cause of your cravings comes into play. You are triggered by these underlying factors — and they're everywhere. Once you understand the causes of your cravings, you will be able to recognize when they are triggered.
4. Promote your imagination.
Visualizing your potential outcome will rewire your initial brain response. Imagine yourself at your healthiest — able to turn down cravings and choose the foods that fuel your body and mind. Imagine that you are already in control. See it happen as though it were already real. There's a super fun exercise corresponding with this section. Keep on reading.
5. Fire those cravings.
Having an understanding of why your craving exists and what triggered it will help you take appropriate action steps. Worksheets at the end of this book will provide you with data and tools for creating a new strategy for success, leaving your cravings behind.CHAPTER 4
STEP 1. PAUSE
Have you ever sent or received a text message without first thinking it through? Have you ever made a decision without weighing all the pros and cons or having a clear picture in front of you?
Here is what happens when you make rushed decisions:
1. You feel regret. Acting before thinking is a sure way to put the proverbial foot in your mouth — or cake in your mouth, as the case may be.
2. You avoid taking responsibility for your bad decision. You launch into defense mode, trying to cover for your slip up. "I can just work this off at the gym, no problem." Overtime doesn't always pay double.
3. You experience loss of investment (i.e. waistline). When I talk about investment, I mean your health investment — all the good nutrition and self-care practices that you undertake.
4. You waste valuable resources. All the work you put in — your time, money, health and energy to "run the business" — is squandered when you make decisions without thinking them through.
Take a two-minute time-out to assess the facts and bring down the intensity of your urge. Allow yourself to take three deep breaths. Grab a glass of water. Taking this moment for yourself will put you in charge of your impulse to eat something you'll regret 10 minutes later, or next day while trying to get into the skinny jeans before a party, or a week later while packing for a beach getaway.
Taking this pause will help you to be more mindful — more aware of what is going on in your immediate environment — body and mind — right here, right now. Mindfulness can be your new personal assistant. When you need an objective perspective and help in identifying the best strategy for successful outcome, mindfulness is by your side and at your service.
By practicing silence towards your cravings, you may even intimidate them into crawling right back into the box from which they have appeared. Then you'll be able to clarify your intentions, review all the possible outcomes and plot a new course.CHAPTER 5
STEP 2. EXAMINE THE FACTS
What is a craving?
A craving is an uncontrollable desire, in this case, to consume a specific food.
Cravings are powerful messages that your body sends to inform you about an underlying imbalance. Think of it as your internal snail mail system. Your goal is to learn to decode these messages and respond appropriately.
Cravings can sometimes be subtle, like ripples on the lake from a slight breeze; other times they might hit you like a ton a bricks. Must. Have. Pizza. Subtle cravings are fairly easy to manage. Strong cravings, on the other hand, can get ugly — reach for one too many snack cakes and you'll be left with devastating feelings of guilt, a puffy face, a bloated abdomen, pants that don't fit, and bruised confidence. It's likely that you have dealt with both types of cravings. But now it's time to tell them who's boss.
Cravings can be loosely categorized as emotional, physiological or environmental. An emotional craving comes on when certain emotions are felt, like sadness or anxiety. A physiological, or physical, craving arises when the body is in need of a certain nutrient or when the brain receives certain signals. An environmental craving is induced when you find yourself amidst the tantalizing smell of pizza or when all your friends are sharing cheesecake smothered in clouds of whipped cream at dinner.
Cravings often tag along with the all-too-familiar emotion, guilt. How many times have you thrown up your hands, pleading, "What's wrong with me?!" That's your old frenemy, guilt. It sends you straight to the gym where you sign a year's contract and attend every Buns Burner class for a month, only to fizzle out when some bon-bons from a corner bakery win the debate between working out or working on your sweet tooth. The cravings-and-guilt cycle is vicious.
Don't get me wrong, signing up for a gym membership is a great idea. In fact, I'm an avid gym goer. I've been working out with a trainer consistently for seven years now. It's a big part of my life. But if you continue to give in to your cravings because you don't understand what they are really telling you, then your gym membership is a waste of money.
Trips to the gym should not be used as an excuse to consume more calories or indulge. If you are working out to earn that cupcake (or three cupcakes, or an extra glass of wine with an accidental block of cheese, ahem), then you're in for disappointment.
One of my absolute favorite quotes is "Abs are made in the kitchen." (On the other hand, so are potbellies, spare tires and love handles.)
Just picture different foods dressed up as people, in their Sunday best, trying to find ways to make themselves look most appetizing. Which foods in your kitchen, at your favorite restaurant or takeout joint would have the loudest voice? When you find yourself falling for the allure of your strongest craving food, picture it screaming at you just like that annoying stranger, relative or coworker who always tries to be the center of attention. It's time to limit your interaction with craving foods, if not get rid of them altogether.
Now envision some of the healthiest and most nutritious foods. They are humble and polite, just waiting to be discovered by you. They have big dreams, and are excited to start making a huge impact on your world, but they do so under the radar. Just like people, sometimes the quiet voices will surprise you the most. That piece of broccoli is gently waiving its pretty green head at you, saying, "Hey there. I'm waiting for you here with my friends, cauliflower and carrots. We'd love to make a delivery of our best nutrients to your cells. Wait. Don't walk away ... Please. We just want to be loved."
After my workouts, I am often absolutely starving. I have learned to listen to the messages of my cravings, and I now choose a healthy option that helps my muscles recover. In the old days, when my cravings controlled me, I would eat a piece of candy to "reward" myself for burning tons of calories. Those days are over. Now I go for a veggie protein smoothie instead.
Excerpted from Cravings Boss by Natalia Levey. Copyright © 2016 Natalia Levey. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Termination Letter To Self-Sabotage, 1,
Potential Dangers Of Overeating, 3,
5-Step Plan To Take Back Control, 7,
Step 1. Pause, 11,
Step 2. Examine The Facts, 13,
Types Of Food Cravings, 19,
The Many Causes Of Cravings And How To Deal With Them, 33,
Step 3. Pinpoint The Trigger, 67,
Step 4. Promote Your Imagination, 71,
Arrange Your Environment For Success, 73,
Step 5–"Fire Your Cravings" Action Worksheets, 75,
5-Step Plan Review, 79,
My Secret Weapons, 81,
Craving More?, 87,