Cravings and diets - how to have heaven without the chocolate.

Cravings

What is a craving?

Possibly an insatiable longing for a substance, activity or even a person which we know will give us an intense sense of well-being. What we do not readily accept, is that that longing is in charge of us, rather than us being in control of ourselves.

With the development of technology we are able to take pictures of the brain, even the flow of energy when we are in action. New research mentioned by the BBC seems to indicate that our brains function more as an 'internet' than having a separate section for each function. There is now much evidence to show that certain circuits in the brain are particularly active when we are craving something. It could be:

  • Food  
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol 
  • Smoking
  • Drugs 
  • Sex,
  • Intense physical activity
  • Video games
  • Gambling.

The list is endless.

Good news! Help is at hand.

Research done by Prof Adrian Taylohas found that the circuits responsible for these longings are interrupted by

A brisk 15" walk.

What about a walk break instead of a smoke break? Walking is the only exercise you need.

The really good news is that this activity can help with multiple lifestyle changes all at the same time.

Overweight

The grim news is official. What goes in must come out. Otherwise it is stored as future energy supplies in fat, particularly round the midriff. It is this fat round our abdomens that is so dangerous, predisposing us to: 

HEART ATTACKS

STROKES

DIABETES

These are the killers of today and costing millions in health care, distress to families and disruption of the work force. 

What to do?

First and foremost to understand the way our bodies work and then to take charge of ourselves.

A Story of Success

A young girl began over- eating from the age of 11 and went on to become so obese that she was no longer able to sit behind the wheel of her car. The habits of eating were formed in the family home and continued as she attempted to make her way in life. She was always miserable, but pretended not be.

One day she overheard some young men talking of someone who was overweight. They made the comment that she had no one else to blame for her appearance. This struck her so forcibly that she determined to change her body. At first she walked at night so as not to be seen. Every step she had pain in her feet and between her thighs but she never gave up. She realised the only way was to be more active and a 5 year struggle followed, progressing on to gym work when she was able to use equipment. She was then supported by a physical trainer and this was a tremendous boost. Having an encourager makes all the difference.

She went on to become slim and very attractive. She married and had a family and was brave enough to share her story with others who are in the position she was in.

Admitting the problem is step number one.
Step number two. Take charge of what you take into your body; it is wonderfully made and deserves the highest quality of food. 

For help in eating and shopping, there is a website dedicated to promoting simple, tasty and, above all, healthy eating. A GP, Dr Simon Poole, shares his well-informed advice on what could be called 'redemptive eating' on his website Taste of the Mediterranean. It is well worth a browse.

Some ideas that have been proven to work:

  • Have a mirror in the kitchen.
  • Use a smaller plate.
  • Eat normal speed then slower.
  • Try to eat only what you have prepared.
  • Use a tall glass when you drink. It makes you think you still have a lot left.
  • Concentrate on eating at the table. Being distracted leads to over-eating. Watch out for that TV! Whatever happened to family meals?
  • Keep a short and sweet food diary. Becoming aware of your food pattern helps to break habits.
  • Beware diet packs. The evidence is that those who buy them eat more, lulled into thinking they are a safe bet.
  • Look out for so-called healthy fruit juices. Make sure that 'no added sugar' is on the label.

Back where we started. Burn off what you take in.

Use housework as your workout, three times a week instead of two. 

Use your energy instead of machines and walking as your transport.

The more you value your body the more you will respect it and care for it.

Motivational myths:

Be discriminating when reading self-help advice. Self-affirmation and visualisation have been shown to be ineffective in changing a lifestyle. Fantasizing does not help you to reach your dreams.

The way forward. 
  •  Make your plans, progress, benefits and rewards as concrete as possible by writing them down.
  • Tell your family and friends your plans. 
  • Start with small, achievable goals such as a 5" walk. Advice to 'exercise 30" a day or it is of no value', is incredibly dis-empowering. Try the small start and achieve more than you thought possible.
  • Remember NEAT.
A friend walking alongside works wonders.