Whether you are preparing for surgery or you are focusing on weight loss/maintenance after surgery, cravings can pose a challenge in your everyday life. Cravings can be the result of not eating the right foods or not following a proper meal schedule. They can also be the result of stress, boredom, your environment or bad habits. By following a regularly-scheduled meal pattern and tuning into your appetite signals, you can prevent and control cravings.
Preventing a potential craving
- Do not skip meals! If you skip a planned meal or snack you are putting yourself at risk for experiencing extreme hunger later on. With extreme hunger usually comes cravings and unhealthy food choices. Give your body what it needs before you lose control.
- Plan ahead. Make sure you plan your day out and always carry a nutrient-dense snack with you in case of a “food emergency.” For example, reduced fat cheese and whole grain crackers, a small handful of nuts and a small piece of fruit, etc.
- Make sure to stay hydrated. Drink at least 64 oz of fluid daily. Sometimes dehydration can make you feel hungry and cause cravings.
- Don’t forget balance. Although protein remains the priority, it is important to include some healthy carbohydrates (fruit and whole grains), vegetables, and healthy fats (nuts, olive oil, peanut butter, etc.) in your diet. Note: take into consideration your current dietary stage.
- When you are trying to establish a regular meal pattern, you may need to rely on eating by the clock more versus eating according to hunger. Even if you do not feel hungry for a meal, make sure that you eat something anyways. This ensures that you remain in control of your hunger.
Focus on mindful eating
- If you feel hungry between a planned meal or snack, ask yourself a few questions.
- Am I really hungry?
- Or do I feel hungry because I am sad/mad/frustrated or stressed?
- Am I bored?
- Do I want to give into a stressful social situation?
- If you are not truly hungry and you are experiencing a craving, do not give in! You are in control.
- Find an activity or activities to engage in other than eating. You will find it becomes easier to cope with cravings as time passes.