A food addict's travels on the road to recovery.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How Do You Overcome A Craving?

I really want to know.  I want you to tell me.  What's your best advice on overcoming a craving?  Do you cave in and just eat it?  Do you hold strong and wait until the craving passes?  What if that craving last up to 2 weeks?  What if you're tired of resisting, finally break down, and instead of eating the one thing you're craving, you go on an all-out binge from the ridiculous stress that comes with avoiding that one item you're craving?  What if you eat everything BUT the one thing you're craving, trying to avoid eating the said craving, and then end up eating it anyway...plus all the extra calories from eating the food you were eating to avoid the craving in the first place?

I know this probably sounds insane to a lot of people reading....especially those that don't have an eating problem.  And YES, there are people out there that read weight loss blogs that don't have an eating/weight problem.  Weird...I know...but it happens.  :) 

I'm a food addict.  Addict is such a nasty little word.  I cringe every time I say it, type it or even think it.  Who wants to be known as a junkie?  But I am one.  It's a hard thing to face, and an even harder thing to recover from.  From Day One of starting this blog, I chose the motto at the top of the page:  A food addict's travels on the road to recovery.  That was my attempt at finally facing my addiction to food, and finding a way to turn it around.  Those first days/weeks of this blog were hard.  Hard to write...hard things to admit.  Depressing crap that I was SURE nobody would want to read.  Now I look over at my sidebar and I see 280 followers.  How did THAT happen????  I guess you people are sicker than I thought...LMAO.  Totally kidding.  What I REALLY see when I look over at that sidebar is people that are perhaps just like me.  People that have the same struggles, fears, problems, issues, flaws....but also the same hope...the same dreams...the same courage, strength, determination, tenacity, desire to get better.  To be better.  To learn how to recover.  Because you know....once we get to "goal"...whatever that # is for each of us....we're not finished.  We're not done by a long shot. 

I know a couple of people who have gotten to goal since I started blogging last June and I'm just going to be honest with you.  They're having one hell of a time keeping it between the lines.  They're struggling to maintain...and it's even moreso than they struggled to lose the weight.  Isn't that a kicker?  This is hard stuff.  Because it's not just about dropping some pounds.  It's about changing your lifestyle...how you eat, yes...but more importantly, how you think...how you react to food....how you deal with it.  How you handle it.  Learning how to treat it as fuel and how NOT to fantasize over it.  Not yearn for it, like I do.  This is what I did last night.  I was laying in bed fantasizing about food like a junkie wanting their next fix.  I hit the sack at 11:30p last night and I laid awake thinking about different things, but mostly food...until 1am this morning.  Sick?  Yes.  Insane?  Yes.  Shameful?  You bet.  But it's honest.  It's real.  This is me...my life...my addiction.

Did I want to talk about this to you this morning?  Nope.  Did I NEED to talk to you about this?  Yep.  Why?  Because as embarassing as it is to reveal these things about me....I also know that I can't be the only person in the world with these issues.  Someone else has to understand the struggle...the addiciton...themselves, and thus, maybe they've discovered or stumbled upon some epiphanies, some solutions, or just some helpful tips along this road to recovery.  And God knows I need all the help I can get.

It doesn't really matter what I was craving this one particular time, but I'll tell you anyway.  Crab Alfredo.  lol
Red Lobster has been running these effing CrabFest commercials for 2 weeks now, and I see them every evening on TV...on the weekends...the damn things are everywhere.  Number one issue....seafood is my all-time favorite type of food.  Number two issue....I pass a Red Lobster every day going to and from work...it's about 1 mile from where I work.  Number three issue....the craving hit 2 weeks ago, and it seems the longer I try to avoid it, the stronger the craving gets.  I keep thinking I'll just ride it out until CrabFest is over and they stop advertising it....I don't know.  But seriously....laying in bed at night and can't sleep because you're thinking about food?????  How sick is that???  I'm such an addict.  I think, well maybe I should just eat it and move on.  Then I think, isn't there like 3000 calories in fettucine alfredo????  It's one of those things that are just off the charts, kinda' like pecan pie.  :)  Maybe I should get it and only eat half.  Can I be trusted to stop at half?  I'm not so sure. 

So I want some ideas.  Whether it be this one dish...or something different I'm craving a month from now.  How do you guys deal with it?  If I didn't care about changing my eating behaviors, I wouldn't devote as much time to this blog to get better.  To recover.  So give me your ideas please...I want to hear them.  Thanks.  :)


  1. I'm of no use on this one.:0(
    Gave in to my morning coffee cookie craving.
    Hope some of the other readers have the answer or as close an answer as it can get.
    I do want to lose weight, but I am not putting the effort it takes into it and am well aware of it. sigh!

  2. I don't deny myself anything, ever. Do I eat ice cream every day, no, but when we're at my favorite ice cream place, heck yeah I'm gonna have some! My life will not be without ice cream, it just won't and it's silly to try to fool myself into thinking it will be.

    If I deny myself I am just destined to binge. Binging makes me feel guilty, which makes me eat, which makes me feel unsuccessful, which makes me eat, which makes me gain weight, which makes me depressed, which makes me eat. Denial is the straw that broke the camels back for me.

    Have your alfredo. Nothing is done or undone in one snack, one meal, one day or even one week. Have it. get rid of your craving and move on.

    That's just my .02

  3. It depends on the situation and the craving. I try to give myself a bit of time to make sure I really want something. If the craving doesn't go away in a 1/2 hour or an hour, then yes - I give in. Because if I don't, I wind up eating EVERYTHING else in an effort not to eat the craving! Ack!
    PS - If you follow my blog in a feed reader, you'll need to remove it and then re-follow. Something happened to my feed when I switched over to Wordpress.

  4. A true craving is so hard. I could have written this post, Tammy, as you well know. In AA I literally craved a drink for the first 9 months after getting sober, every day. No lie - finally the obsession was lifted, but I was going to aa all the time and finally had a big rant at a meeting complaining about everything. First time I shared anything honest, and I got a lot of support and nodding of heads. And the next day my obsession to drink was gone. Why not with food????

    Food is truly harder - at least for me. One thing I know about myself is that if I give in to certain things, I WILL overeat and that I can't have a little. That's now, but it is my hope and intention that with continued recovery from food addiction I will be able to eventually have a reasonable amts of what I want. But I know people who just have x-ed certain foods out forever and say that eventually you stop wanting them. Of course I wonder if they are true food addicts because that seems so impossible to me!

    For certain, if I eat something like a cheese steak and fries (best in the country) at a local place, my eating won't stop there. It just won't. So I avoid it almost all the time (except this past weekend when I was a food seeking machine). I still exercise and do better the next day. But sustained steady weight loss is going to require me to Just Say No to that, and other inevitable food triggers.

    Now that didn't help you one bit, did it? But we're going to do this. I know - both of us, slowly and surely are and will keep making progress.

  5. My problem is that when I give in a little, it seems to just feed the cravings and make it that much harder to resist the next time. Pretty soon I'm slipping and sliding all over the place.

    I'm one of the ones who hit goal and suffered a little bounce. I attribute a few pounds of that to converting fat to muscle, but the bulk of it is just eating a little too much of the wrong stuff. You're right... maintaining has it's own set of challenges, and it's not as much fun as losing is.

    My advice: find a more healthy way to satisfy your craving. I imagine you can whip up a lower fat alfredo stuff than RL does...

  6. Leslie mentioned something that I was thinking. Since this IS an addiction, maybe you need some help beyond this blog and advice from people who are following your story to help them with their own.
    Maybe look into an OA meeting...they have a lot in your area...face to face, over the phone...all sorts of things, according to their website. Most people expect alcoholics to go to AA, so why shouldn't you look in to a resource that might help?


  7. Have you thought about making a healthier version of Crab alfredo at home? You could do whole wheat noodles, and there is a recipie for alfredo made with laughing cow cheese. Worth a try!

  8. This is the reason I'm so bad at losing weight. I also have crazy cravings that plague my life.

    A) try to make your own at home. you always have the yummiest looking creations. I made an alfredo with low fat cream cheese that was pretty darn good!

    B) Maybe plan where you can have one craving meal each month? I do that with Chinese. I don't pig out on it, but I get to have it. It helps me stay on track day to day, knowing I have that eventually.

  9. I think a food craving is different in a way to a craving for alcohol or drugs. People having to give up those substances completely have my deep admiration. We can live without alcohol, we can live without drugs, but we have to have food. It's all around us. Eating is what we do.

    Some of us over-eat, some of us eat the wrong foods, some of us binge...some of us don't move enough to burn off the calories...and we get fat. One way and another, food makes us fat, so we endeavour to cut back.

    All I know is, I am no saint. If I strongly desire a food I'll think about it, try to keep busy, I'll distract myself and sometimes, the craving passes. Sometimes it doesn't and then I make a conscious decision (and I think that bit is important) to have what it is that I crave.

    I have to do it consciously though - almost in a sort of "I want to taste a doughnut. I really do. I am going to have a doughnut and I will really enjoy it." So I eat the doughnut, slowly, enjoying every single crumb. I don't feel as though I have cheated either. It's a decison I have made, and when I have had it, that's it. I tell myself I don't want a six pack of doughnuts. I want only one. I think you must ensure that you have one portion and no more in the house.

    This is for life. Anyone who says they'll never again eat a certain food that they used to enjoy is setting themselves up for failure I think. What we have to get used to is having rare food treats, having sensible portions, and being satisfied and pleased once we have eaten whatever it is that tempts us. No binge, no going mad, no stuffing our faces - just a decision to enjoy a food once in a while.

  10. Such an honest, relatable post. Food is so much more than just food when you are addicted and the craving is a symptom of something so much more than wanting crab alfredo. The issue is figuring out what is behind the craving and how to deal with it. I haven't figured out the why or how yet, and I think until I do I won't be successful at this whole weight loss journey. For me, I have to not indulge in the craving... it just is a slippery slope that leads to more and more "cravings" and less and less fuel for my body.
    Thank you for your honesty.

  11. I can relate to this post. thank you for it. I have some thinking to do. But, I agree with Jack can you make a lower cal option at home. Or maybe go at lunch time when RL has smaller portions.

  12. And YES, there are people out there that read weight loss blogs that don't have an eating/weight problem. Weird...I know...but it happens. :)

    As someone who does this on occasion, I thought I might explain a bit. :-) Dealing with weight loss is one of the issues that people confront that seems to be applicable to many, many challenges, and I find the approach and mental toughness that people need to develop to lose weight to be useful to me in the non-weight-related challenges I face.

    The basics of weight loss are the basics of everything in life:

    1) There are no shortcuts. There are no magic pills. Shut up and do the work.

    2) Small changes consistently made are the secret to success. Just keep moving forward and don't think about it.

    3) Play now, pay now. There is no play now, pay later.

    Seeing people apply these basic principles on a different challenge to whatever I might be facing in my life helps me see those principles more clearly. It's like the 10,000 hours rule that Malcolm Gladwell talks about. Success is nothing more than not stopping. Get up one more time than you're knocked down. That's what I get out of weight loss blogs.

  13. You're not alone. I feel like this too - and then I realized the other day that the times when I become obsessed by food are the times when I'm lonliest.

    If I'm surrounded by friends or I have plans or I'm busy doing something I enjoy, I can push the food thoughts aside and feel normal.

    Keep busy - and if you've been thinking about something for two weeks, just have it. It's probably a real craving and not some passing thing.

  14. I think that we need to learn to flex our will power muscle some times. Wait 30 minutes, see if the feeling goes away. Tell yourself you can have a little of something...in x amout of days, etc. Try not to give in right away, all the time.

    However, there are MANY instances when you give yourself what you are craving, without going overboard. Learn to make substitutions. Following is an alfredo recipe which I think tastes fantastic...and my hubby and two little boys agree. You can make it with Smart Taste pasta...add some crab meat, veggies, etc.

    Laughing Cow Alfredo
    6 wedges your favorite laughing cow cheese
    1 cup skim milk
    2 TB parmesan cheese
    1 TB reduced calorie margarine
    1 tsp garlic powder

  15. First of all, I DO understand being a food addict. It does sound harsh but I KNOW what you mean.

    My first thought, if you've had the craving for THAT long, than go ahead and get it once and be done. But then I thought, if you cave once, it will be easier to cave again. And again. That's what happens to me. I have to stay strict with myself or I just can't succeed.

    Who's in charge in your life?? You or the food! Make sure it's YOU who is charge! Next time you drive by Red Lobster, I want you to stick your tongue out at it and tell them where to go! (in a nice christianly way of course). :-)

  16. This doesn't sound crazy at all - it sounds like all the thoughts regularly roaming around in my head. I'm a food addict too. I had a bit of a meltdown just last night after indulging in way too much peanut butter and crackers and a bunch of other crap but I stopped myself before I went on an all out binge. It was a close one but I struggled through it and worked out extra hard today to make up for it.

    On previous "diets" I would totally avoid the "BAD" foods and if I slipped up once it was all over, I was off the wagon and all bets were off. Now, I try not to look at anything as "off limits" because that only makes me want it more. If I were you I would either go to Red Lobster and split your favorite crab dish with someone and enjoy every single bite of it or I would try to recreate a healthier version of it at home. Good luck!

  17. "And YES, there are people out there that read weight loss blogs that don't have an eating/weight problem. Weird...I know...but it happens. :)"

    Haha, I'm one of those people! I read them because it's really inspiring to me to see people taking the initiative to change their health for the better. I really like the stories.

    And I may not be a food addict, but I do have an addiction. I can go maybe a week at a time without my drug and then I will start to go crazy. I'll start fantasizing about it, just like you said. Remembering exactly how it will feel. The thoughts completely consume my mind until I can't stand it anymore. And then I find a way to get the drug. Sometimes I would feel like crap a day or so afterward, but the high is SO worth it. If I didn't get it, with the stressful job I work at, I would probably bite some heads off or something. So...my addiction is not food, so it's fairly easy for me to ignore a food craving. But I know when you're truly addicted to something it is NOT easy to ignore, so I would say to just give into it this one time if it is consuming your thoughts at 1 a.m. Sorry I can't be more helpful, Tammy. I hope that one day you can beat your addiction and have a normal relationship with food.

  18. I avoid certain food groups like carbs. I tell myself that I will be plenty full on greens and protein. I always am full on that so that really helps.

  19. Well, turn the tv off when those ads come on, or don't watch tv right now... (read, walk, go to your gym..)

    Take a different route from work?

    Are you the type who will eat loads of other stuff to try to satisfy/stave off the craving, only to eat the craved item bc the other stuff didn't do the trick?

    I suppose you COULD make a healthier version as an alternative, but would that do it for you? Would you feel cheated? And I think that maybe you would actually get the most satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment if you WERE able to beat this one. I think it would be empowering. And a sort of turning point where you could point back and say "ohhh, Yeah, don't mess with Tammy - insert craving or tempting food here - I survived the great 2+ week craving of August 2010 you know!!" I think you can do it. And you will be SO dang proud of yourself. Chrissy

  20. Here's another healthy version of alfredo....

    2 tbsp butter
    1-2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 1/2 cups of 2% milk (I use 1% and it tastes fine)
    1 1/2 tbsp flour
    1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
    1/2 tsp dried basil
    1/4 tsp each pepper, salt
    crab, tuna, shrimp or chicken
    1/4 cup low fat sour cream
    2 tbsp fresh parsley

    Cook pasta of your choice. (I use brown rice) Drain and return to pot.

    Prepare sauce while pasta cooks. Melt butter, add garlic i min. Mix milk, flour until smooth, add to garlic. Cook until bubbly and thickened - 4-5 ming

    Reduce heat to low. Stir in Parmesan cheese, basil, salt and pepper. Cook 2 min. Stir in meat/fish of your choice, sour cream, cook until heated through - 2 min.

    Pour sauce over pasta, toss to ocat. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with extra Parmesan and black pepper. Best served immediately.

    554 cal. per serving

    If I have a craving that lasts a few days, isn't a binge craving, but just a taste for a certain food - then, I eat it in moderation. I find it keeps the binges away. But, I'm an everything in moderation girl.

  21. Hey, here's an idea for you to deal with cravings. I grabbed this from a website by a woman named Debra Moorhead where she talks about dropping a small amount of weight, like 25lbs, but the method is completely generalizeable and very like Sean's calorie bank:

    "Another method I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted was to “save” calories. This was actually fun. I had a friend at work who liked to go out on Friday nights. Her husband always worked a night shift that night, so when my husband was out of town, we would treat ourselves to dinner and a movie. She was supportive of my diet, but really craving a piece of “Derby pie” from a local restaurant. We made our plans on Monday, and I started “saving up” enough calories to be able to eat that piece of pie come Friday night. I called the restaurant on Monday and found out that one serving was 750 calories. Using my Excel spreadsheet, I decreased my calories just a little each day and each meal until I had exactly 750 saved up. That was, without, a doubt, the best tasting piece of Derby pie I’ve ever had – before or since! But the best part was, the next morning, my weight was continuing to fall."

    Like Sean says, calories are like cash: you can spend -- and save! -- but you can't borrow.

    Set yourself your limit of 1500 or 1800 or whatever it is, and find out how many calories are in that serving of crab alfredo at the RL. (If it's really an insane amount, then halve it and split the meal with a friend.)

    Then, cut that value into seven equal parts, and shoot under your daily calorie allotment by that much for a week beforehand. You'll have the right number of calories saved up to "splurge."

    Just think of it like buying things without a credit card. You either spend the money in your pocket, or you save up bit by bit, and then when you have enough saved up, you get your big-ticket item. If you get blindsided by a craving doesn't budge, then just budget for it this way. This might help.