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3 Reasons Not to (Completely) Ignore Your Cravings

Apr 24, 2010

Every now and then you have to give into your food cravings. When you're on a diet or a healthy eating plan, cravings tend to be demonized when really they're not such a bad thing to enjoy from time to time. The key to not allowing cravings to become a problem is to stay in control--don't go into a bakery on an empty stomach and don't order a huge basket of french fries when you can order a small side. In the long run, you'll be happier and healthier by not ignoring your food cravings. Here are some reasons why.

1. Indulging In Cravings Keeps You Sane and Happy

Our favorite foods, no matter how bad for us, make us feel good when we eat them. Eating foods like chocolate, ice cream, wine and cheese, or a big juicy cheeseburger elicits feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. There is no reason to completely eliminate these foods from your diet or to deny yourself these foods every once in awhile. It's hard to refrain from eating these things because they taste so good. For someone who is giving up these foods to try and be healthier, the challenge of doing so can feel overwhelming at times. If you don't give in when you really want something, your thoughts will be consumed by the the food. People feel grumpy and unhappy when they deny themselves something they want for too long. You'll be happier if you just allow yourself to eat the cheeseburger once every couple of weeks.

2. Indulging In Cravings Keeps You Motivated

Who wants to live a life without their favorite food? Living in a constant state of denial is no way to carry on. Indulging in your favorite foods from time to time reaffirms your efforts. You work out and eat healthy most of the time so that you can really enjoy that special treat guilt free on the occasions that allow it. Allowing yourself to give into a craving will keep you motivated and will prevent you from giving up altogether instead.

3. Indulging In Cravings May Be Your Body's Way of Communicating

Sometimes a craving may be your body's way of telling you that you need more of a particular food or nutrient. A craving for a steak, for example, may mean that you're low on iron or protein. Craving a strawberry-kiwi smoothie may mean you need some more vitamin C. Cravings aren't just limited to foods you may classify as junk, as you've probably had cravings for nutrient-rich foods before. Know your body and think about what nutrients you may need. The craving may be about more than wanting a tasty treat--it may be trying to help you fill a void in your diet.

Cravings should not be completely ignored. A good rule is to wait 15 minutes after you initially have a craving to see if it still lingers. If it does, allow yourself a moderate portion of the food you desire or plan to consume the food later in the week.

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