Not long ago, I was on an online forum where someone who had given up dairy products was talking about the fact that she was craving cheese. But what struck me about this was that she was feeling bad about it. I very seldom eat dairy either and about a month ago, I had a craving for cheese. So what did I do? I bought a chunk of sheep's milk Manchego (my favorite cheese ever) and enjoyed it. I would shred a bit in my frittata, or add a bit to a salad, or use it to garnish a soup.
We all have cravings at one time or another and cravings are something I work with my clients to eliminate. But let's face it, there are times when you need to satisfy a craving with what you're craving. Why am I OK with this? Because if you're craving a 'forbidden' food, there's usually a very good reason for it. For myself, many of my cravings are seasonal. I naturally crave heavier foods when it's cold and cheese fits that bill. In addition, I didn't satisfy my craving with just any cheese. I chose a good quality cheese that I love and I thoroughly enjoyed it without guilt.
Something else I've noticed with clients, is that as their diets improve, their cravings will change to healthier foods. For example, one client that used to crave fast food was at one point craving seafood. If you are craving something you're trying to avoid though, here are a few strategies for satisfying the craving without derailing your healthy eating:
Choose a healthier version of the food. For example, rather than the local fast food burger, bring home some good quality, grass-fed beef and make your own burger. Put it on your favorite bun, or, if it's simply the burger you're craving, have it without the bread with a big salad on the side.
Eat one serving out. Have you been craving ice cream? Rather than bring home a half-gallon that you know you'll eventually polish off, go out to a local ice cream shop and have a cone or a cup of your favorite flavor. Sit and relax and eat it slowly, savoring every bite. Even if you splurge on a hot fudge sundae, accept that you had it and move on.
Integrate your craving into your healthy diet. With my cheese craving, I bought a block of it and included a little bit in my healthy meals and when the cheese was gone, I was so over it. This also works for some people who crave chocolate. A small piece of good-quality, dark chocolate after lunch is enough to satisfy their chocolate fix. I probably wouldn't recommend integrating double pepperoni pizza into your everyday diet, though!
The good news is, often most cravings can be satisfied after having one serving of a food, but if cravings persist, then there may be a significant underlying cause that needs to be further addressed. This is where someone like me comes in. I can help clients deconstruct and get to the root cause of cravings and establish alternative methods for satisfying them.