Should you give into cravings?

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I woke up two days ago and was craving a donut. The craving wasn’t intense; just more of a “that would be pretty good, huh?” question in my head that was banging around for a bit. I didn’t really care about a donut, so I didn’t have one.

The same thing happened to me yesterday. Same voice, same situation. Unlike two days ago, I decided to give into the voice. Why? For me, multi-day cravings will go on for a bit unless I do something about them. These cravings are rare, but they happen.

I ate the donuts (one before lunch, one before bed), and I no longer care about donuts.

I’ve had large bags of chips in my house for a few days due to the Super Bowl. I have had some once this week (part of dinner), but I haven’t touched them otherwise, even though I wanted to.

What is the difference? On the surface, there is none, except for the one I gave into vs the ones I don’t.

Underneath, it’s a bit more complex. I’ve had chips, I love chips, and could easily kill a bag of them if I don’t pay attention. I enjoy donuts sometimes, but I eat them once every few months. The biggest difference, however:

I only wanted the chips because they are in my house!

When I don’t have chips in front of me, I don’t have a desire to eat or buy them. When I don’t have donuts in front of me, I don’t have a desire to eat or buy them. This allows me to differentiate between what I actually crave and what I want because it’s near me. If I don’t have it and want it, I crave it. If I only want it because it’s around, I don’t actually crave it; I’m responding to the fact that it’s in my vicinity.

Enough about me, though. Should you give into your cravings?

The question you need to ask yourself first: “Do I actually crave this, or does it just look good?” 90% of the time, it will be the latter. There is nothing wrong with wanting to eat something because it looks good. Various foods are made to appeal visually.

Let’s say it’s not in front of you, and you realize you actually crave some food. Should you give in? Gonna hit you with that nuance, guys: this is not a simple “yes” or “no” question.

You have to know what the effects will be.

Do you have poor self-control? Then you will probably overeat. That’s not good. If you want to give in, purchase the smallest amount of a food that you feasibly can. If you are worried that you will overeat, don’t be afraid to throw the rest away. If you are worried about wasting money, give it to a friend. Either way, get the remainder away from you!

Have you been trying to get back on track? It’s probably a good idea to evaluate whether or not it is truly worth giving into the craving. If your problem has been “giving into cravings”, you probably shouldn’t give in. If giving into a craving has a cascading effect, you’ll want to avoid for a bit.

So when should you give into a craving?

When you know what the behavioral effects will be, how it will affect your overall weight control plan, and you understand the possible “consequences” (like going over calories), you’re fit to make that determination. If you’re fine with it, dive in. If you’re hesitant, that’s a sign that maybe you shouldn’t give in.

What happens if you give in, and realize later that you shouldn’t have?

That’s a learning experience! Now you know for next time that the situation you were in was not one where you should give in. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn.

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