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Carts and Horses, Horses and Carts

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

A few weeks ago, my friend Christina wrote an awesome blog. I don't think this was necessarily the main point, but my big takeaway was that she follows a strict eating plan to combat giving in to cravings, but what if she could just ignore cravings in the first place? Wouldn't that mean that she didn't need her strict eating plan?

It's like putting the cart before the horse, but that actually turning out to be a more effective way to go driving!

And it got me thinking about Judith Beck's procedure for tolerating cravings. The instructions are (in essence, I'm not sitting with the book in front of me):

1. Acknowledge the craving. Label it. "This is a craving."
2. Stand firm. "I am not going to give in to this craving." Say NO CHOICE.
3. Read your reasons for wanting to lose weight.
4. Ride it out thusly:
4a: Distance yourself.
4b: Drink a low-calorie beverage.
4c: Relax.
4d: Do a distracting activity.

Later on, you make a list of distracting activities you can try for 4d.

So after reading her blog, I thought to myself, what if, instead of distracting myself after I get a craving, I'm already distracted, so I don't bother myself with the craving at all, in the first place?

And it was like finding another new way to drive. Maybe I...don't have enough to do. Maybe I should busy myself more.

On its face, this is silly. I have two jobs and a toddler. How could I possibly not be busy enough?

Oddly enough, I have managed to have time enough to overeat, thought not enough time to exercise. So there's that, too.

After I had this revelation, I spent the rest of the day in constant motion. I wanted to make sure I was so distracted that thoughts of unplanned food couldn't sneak up on me.

But you know what? That was really exhausting and unsustainable. So I guess the horse does still go before the cart.

That's okay. It did get me thinking about how to fill up my time a bit better. And now I have more time for exercise, and less time for overeating.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Your blog and the comments were interesting. Cravings are really hard to deal with. About three days into doing really well, I'll lie in bed and start craving something, and it's usually cheddar cheese between two slices of white bread with mayonnaise (sort of reminds me of how much you love pimiento cheese). So many times in my life I've gotten up to go get that cheese sandwich, but sharp cheddar cheese is not that easy to come by in Japan, so in recent years I've just craved whatever I remember is downstairs.

    In these past few weeks I've started to get pretty serious about losing weight, so if I get a craving in the daytime, I'll just sit here and take some deep breaths and try to remember how yucky it feels after I eat lots of bad things purposely bought for bingeing, how I get a headache, how it ruins my appetite for dinner. Those thoughts are often effective, and then I just try to do something constructive after that.

    Thanks for the thoughtful blog!
    14 days ago
    Our thinking really is so important. Neuroscience!
    38 days ago
    I love your blog and can relate to all of it. For some reason this year has been difficult for my weight loss. Last year Iost 20 pounds and this year I am battling to keep it off.

    I hope you find the answer that works and share it with us.

    92 days ago
    Yes, I agree. I am super busy during the day with work. I work remotely most days and often don't find time to eat lunch, though I generally make a point of clocking out and eating something that I plan out (getting into that habit). In the evening, I read, which I don't associate with eating, or I watch TV and needlepoint. I associate TV with food, but I am breaking that habit slowly but surely by doing other things while watching TV. And I am loving making progress with my needlepoint projects.
    92 days ago
  • L*I*T*A*
    98 days ago
    Sounds like a great day in all ways.
    98 days ago
    Wonderful blog!
    I've been experimenting with this idea of 'just learn to ignore cravings', without letting go of my strict eating plan.
    It does help me to often remind myself that the MAIN thing is to ignore the craving (and not focus too much on all the 'strategies' to avoid the cravings). I do believe that I can train myself to become better at ignoring cravings and to make it a habit to do that: cravings come up, I just continue with what I am doing.

    I do also need the 'strictness' of my eating program in the sense that I need to still avoid the foods that cause cravings (sugar, flour) and that I need habits and rules around when (not) to eat, basically to eat 3 meals and 1 snack per day in my case.

    Re: keeping yourself too busy to overeat... I know that I often overeat when I am TOO busy and feeling overwhelmed.
    Another thought: my guess is that (like me) you were probably not sitting down and paying attention to the food when you were overeating? So you were probably doing other things while eating such as reading or surfing the internet or watching TV? Would limiting these activities help, or maybe to set a rule to not eat while doing these activities?
    98 days ago
  • ELSCO55
    Well said
    98 days ago
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