To cheat day or not to cheat day? That is the question.
To cheat day or not to cheat day? That is the question. It is important to talk about the differences between cravings and hunger, as they are two very different sensations. In general, when a person eats, hunger goes away. When you feed a craving however, it tends to become stronger. Eliminating cravings is a major goal and a fundamental feature of a ketogenic diet – not to mention an awesome added bonus! When one adheres to a ketogenic diet they are essentially starving the craving instead of feeding into it, by not eating those sugary simple carbohydrates. While cheat days can be very helpful for some individuals, for those suffering from food cravings, it may be counterproductive and sabotage the hard work you have put in.
Cravings do not happen because you are malnourished, nor because your body is trying to tell you it needs a certain food. They actually come from the “reward center” in our brain, the hippocampus. It is urge to eat bad food because they are so sinfully delicious – and for a short period of time we feel great! After eating foods high in sugar you are actually activating this portion of the brain, which when abused repeatedly with unhealthy food choices, could lead to a negative relationship with food and conceive cravings.
A food addict needs to ultimately change the way they look at food. It may be difficult to tell yourself you can never have a certain food again but If you want to eliminate cravings you may need to do exactly that. However, this is not an easy process. Let’s look at what a food addict can do to manage cravings.
1. Plan Ahead!!!
This is the single most important thing you can do. An addict does not have the control to eat only when they are hungry, and a cheat day is born. Plan your meals every day before the day begins. Eat the foods you need for proper nutrition and only the foods that you have planned for the day. Do not rely on your body to tell you when you need food. A food addict likely lacks the ability to do this. For those who want to take a more strategic approach, they can plan daily macros to adhere to.
2. Give It Time
Cravings are a response to stimulating a cheat day. For example, the cravings occur when you are around a certain trigger food. It can also occur when something makes you think about that food. This is when you need to give the thought time to dissipate, it will happen – if you don’t feed into those cravings!
3. Avoid The Stimuli
Sometimes an addict needs to eliminate themselves from a situation to prevent the chance of a cheat day. There are still restaurants I cannot go to because I know the cravings would be too much for me. This can also become easier the longer you are able to avoid these cravings. Sometimes this reaction can come from visual stimuli as well. Cooking shows for example can also create overwhelming stimuli in a food addict. Know yourself and know what you need to stay away from.
4. Stop And Think
When you are experiencing the craving stop and really think about what is going on. Avoid rationalizing with yourself that giving in is going to be “OK”. A food addict is extremely good at rationalizing “cheat days”. Every food addict has had the mental process of telling themselves that they have worked hard and deserve it. I have even convinced myself in the past that giving in was good for my body and I needed to “shock” my system. This thinking all falls under rationalizing, don’t let yourself fall victim to it.
5. Change The Way You Think
Replace the thoughts you have for craving a cheat day with healthy motivational thinking. When you start to think about giving into you craving instead think about what it does to derail your goals. Use positive self-talk and convince yourself that what you really deserve is to be happy and healthy in the long run. Giving into the craving only makes you feel happy for a very short time.
If replacing your thoughts with motivational thinking isn’t working, try reaching for an alternative that will satisfy your craving. For instance, companies like Quest Keto has been doing a great job providing keto alternatives for your favorite foods. From pizza to cookies, you can likely find something to quench that craving!
Not everyone who gives into eating certain foods is considered to be a food addict. The term food addict is there for the individuals who no longer have control over their cravings and do not possess the ability nor willpower to say no to certain foods. There are different levels on the food addict spectrum. Some individuals may be able to do without some of the strategies listed above while others may need to adhere to all of them! Just remember to always do your best to develop a healthy relationship with food again!
- There is a difference between hunger and craving.
- For the full-blown food addict, a cheat day may be counterintuitive.
- For a food addict to develop a healthy relationship with food they must start looking at food differently.