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Hungry or Craving?

photo by la grande farmers' market, via flickr creative commons

photo by la grande farmers’ market, via flickr creative commons

I recently read a tip about diagnosing cravings that has changed the way I think about food (hasn’t fully changed my behavior, but it’s definitely made me much more aware of my choices).  In their bestseller, It Starts with Food, Whole30/Paleo enthusiasts Dallas and Melissa Hartwig suggest asking yourself a simple question when you’re trying to figure out if you’re truly hungry or just craving something:

“Am I hungry enough to eat steamed fish and broccoli right now?” 

If the answer is no, then you’re not really hungry; you’re craving.  When this happens, the authors suggest doing something other than snacking (going for a walk, calling a friend, drinking a glass of water are all good options).

Now, these guys are the hardest of the hard core in the eating department — eating a diet free of grains, sugar, legumes, dairy and alcohol — not just for the 30 days their book advocates, but for life.  We’re not all going to eat like them, but as with anything else, we all can learn from them.  We can take little pieces  (or big pieces) of wisdom from their program and incorporate it into our lives.

The steamed fish and brocoli visualization is one of the pieces I’ve borrowed, and I come back to it each day when I find myself reaching for a piece of fruit or handful of almonds or steaming bowl of oatmeal (my comfort snack) or piece of chocolate.  Sometimes I stare at that plate in my mind and still choose to indulge my “craving,” but I do it less than I used to, and when I do, it’s a conscious decision, not a mindless act.

What tips have you picked up from friends or experts that have changed the way you eat?  Do you subscribe to ideas from one nutrition “guru,” or do you pick and choose to customize your own plan? 

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Cool, thanks for sharing. Something that has helped me change the way I eat is focusing my attention on what I do want to eat, and structure habits to eat MORE of those things, rather than worry at all on what I don’t want to eat. I focus on eating more (of the good stuff – fruits and vegetables for me) rather than eating less (of the bad stuff). It’s worked wonders for me.

    April 2, 2013
  2. …btw, in case it’s of interest, here’s a good TEDx talk on “debunking the paleo diet”:

    April 2, 2013

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