Written by: Chris McMahon
My son loves Cookie Monster, and he finds it hilarious every time he devours a plate of cookies without any pause. It is funny in my son’s defense because all Cookie Monster wants is a delicious chocolate chip cookie.
If you come to me and say all I want to eat are cookies, I’d say, “go for it.” The truth is you are human and not a monster, so it’s a little more complicated.
Cravings are normal.
When many of my clients want to have cookies, it’s because they have a craving, and that’s OK! Cravings are normal, and I am not here to say you should never have a cookie; that’s bonkers.
What we need to understand is that cravings are different than hunger.
What’s The Difference Between Hunger & Cravings
To boil things down, you can start to look for hunger with the following cues:
- The feeling starts in your stomach
- The feeling increases over time
- You’re hungry for a meal
Number three is quite possibly the most important cue for hunger. We will come back to it in a second.
Cravings usually follow these cues:
- The feel isn’t in the stomach
- The feeling comes and goes in a wave
- You want a “treat.”
Cravings come and go, and if you give yourself 10-15 minutes, it usually passes.
What if you aren’t sure if it is a craving or hunger?
The best question to ask yourself is, “am I hungry for a meal?”
Does a piece of fruit sound good right about now?
Does a plate of tacos with black beans, rice, and some salsa sound good?
If you answered yes to either of these, chances are you are hungry.
Now, if the answer is no, chances are you have a craving, and it will pass. I don’t recommend sitting and staring at the cookies while you attempt to let the urge pass by.
What to do instead
Many of my clients have succeeded in getting involved with what’s going on right now. Case in point:
Doing something engaging lets, you be with the feeling and let it pass. Sometimes cravings can be attached to an emotion, boredom, or exhaustion. Here are a few examples that clients have used:
- Reading a book
- Going for a walk
- Playing a board game.
- Playing a musical instrument
- Listening to a podcast
- Playing with a pet
- Talking with a friend on the phone
These are important to you, and spending time on them is good. It has nothing to do with dieting or trying to lose weight. These actions are just a reflection of the type of person you are trying to be.
So, No More Cookies…Ever?
HECK NO. Please eat cookies, but don’t eat cookies to bury an emotion or feeling. A good rule of thumb is to practice saying yes fifty percent of the time and no the other fifty percent.
Sometimes you’ll say yes to the cookie because your kids just made a batch, and you want to share one with them. Other times you will say no, like when you come home from work and usually grab a cookie, but this time you decide to go for a walk to clear your head instead.
As you practice, you will find that the percentages shift around. In the meantime, enjoy the cookie and the memory you are making.
P.S. Oatmeal raisin cookies are my favorite, and if you don’t like them…well, I’m judging you. 🙃