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How a 'Bad Food' Attitude Can Backfire

Make Peace with Your Cravings to Drop More Pounds


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  • Every now and then I get a strong craving for something not on my plan. If it won't go away after I try exercise, water, and healthy foods, I just let myself go for it. This works for me because I settle down and get back on track afterwards. Do you know what a Whoopie Pie is? It's like a squashed chocolate cupcake with fluffy white frosting inside. Well, even though I don't really like them usually, yesterday I was craving one badly. When the craving was driving me crazy, I just went out and bought one. After I ate about 3/4 of it, I was happy and took the rest home to my DH. Today I ate healthy and exercised! Giving in now and then works for me for some reason.
    I completely agree. Restrictive diets never work and 95% of people who lose weight will regain it. Eating sanely and mindfully may take you longer on your route to healthy living, but the results are long lasting. I found the article a little contradictory however as it described healthy and unhealthy eating options. That's pretty much the same as labelling food good or bad. It's only bad or unhealthy if you eat that way all the time. We need to develop a healthy attitude towards food. Some people with eating disorders, especially bingers and overeaters may have to restrict certain foods as part of their recovery, but few people can ever maintain that kind of restrictive eating forever. Eating disorders are a mental illness, and overcoming them lies in dealing with the mental illness. As someone recovering from BE, I found that the more I tried to restrict my trigger foods the more likely I was to binge. I have only found some success by dealing with the mental health issues that drive my eating, not by labelling foods good or bad. Slowly but surely, food is losing it's hold on me.
  • This article is awesome! I grew up with a mother who had an eating disorder. Food was always good or bad. She was always on us about our bad choices, referring to her own eating habits as I have been bad and going from one fad diet to another. One blessing is that I have never been tempted to do fad dieting, but I have always battled the need to do anything about my weight - I never wanted to admit "I am a terrilbe person at contolling my weight". Thank SparkPeople.
  • Yes, I definitely agree. I still indulge in my favorite foods even if they are unhealthy--because if I try to cut out everything I like, I am just setting myself up for failure.
  • This article really "hit home" with me. It packs a lot of information to think about when trying to figure out how to manage cravings for particular foods (all-or-none vs moderation). The suggestions in this article are things I think will help me manage my cravings for sweets, especially chocolate. I think planning can be a very big key to addressing this issue when working to develop a lifetime of healthy eating practices. Thanks so much for publishing this piece.
  • Thanks for sharing.
  • I have been on a "program" for 3 weeks now. The first thing I noticed was I was not craving food. I believe this is due to I am getting the nutrition I was lacking eating what ever I wanted before starting a healthy way of eating. I still "crave" to eat foods that I still have in my home. I bought a cereal I love cause I had a coupon. I found my self dipping into the box just cause it was there. I find the best way to deal with this issue is just don't buy what you shouldn't be eating while you are on a weight loss plan. I admit...I don't have control at this time. Elimination is what works best for me. You can't eat what you don't have!
  • Very interesting article.

    For me, though, categorizing foods as a "no-go" was helpful at first. I know what my trigger foods are; delicious things such as chips, candy bars, mashed potatoes, rice, etc. So I actually intentionally strongly reduced those things, making them OK to eat on cheat days or for cheat meals. After I gained more self-confidence, I was able to slowly reintroduce these items back into my diet on a moderate basis. I used to want THREE CUPS of mashed potatoes in one meal. Heck, sometimes just mashed potatoes was the whole meal. However, once I reintroduced them, I was able to be satisfied with an actual serving size of .5 cup. I can buy candy now, and enjoy one piece a day versus inhaling the whole bag in one serving. In fact, I am now more likely to reach for a banana than I am to reach for the snack drawer at home.

    Different techniques work for different people. Experiment until you find what works for you as an individual. That has been the key to making a dramatic change in my lifestyle - now I can control the food, rather than the cravings controlling me.
  • Thanks for the article. I was on yhe south beach diet and I did good for along time but stop. I lost alot of weight. They had good food. I didn't have craving for sweets.
  • I also would recommend Spark People's "Mindful Eating Challenge." It helped me become aware of my eating habits, and helped curb a couple that weren't beneficial.
    I happen to really like veggies but if they said tomorrow that they aren't healthy I would have NO problem restricting them. It's not "labeling" foods that makes us crave them. Also, I'm kind of getting tired of the "everything in moderation" approach. It impies that anyone who is overweight doesn't know how to practice moderation and that's not always the case. Just as there are skinny people who can eat like cows and not gain weight there are overweight people who eat healthier than most, but still gain. I was even to the point where I'd feel guilty for giving in to cravings even in moderation, because during those times I'd feel powerless over the food. Since learning that most cravings are PHYSIOLOGICAL I've been able to really let go of the guilt that came from years of thinking it was simply my lack of willpower when I did give in. This is a new revelation for me but I'm hoping it will help me have a better relationship with food by understanding and accepting that certain foods lead to an uncontrollable urge for me physiologically regardless of how determined I am to avoid them.
  • The reason we crave certain foods isn't just psychological. We know that big food companies put highly refined sugar into just about everything. This means that the baby-boom generation onward has been primed for addiction to sugar. If eating just a little sugary, fatty or salted foods is impossible for you, it could be because of addiction. Stronger measures are likely needed to break the addiction.

    Excellent, excellent article! Explains a lot, very well written.

    Like many, my cravings are for sugar and any foods containing carbohydrates. Of the two, the carbohydrates are the most difficult to conquer. It has been that way since childhood, and it seems that they go together hand in hand. (No, I won't tell you how old I am, but DO speak from years of experience). With me, it's a mindset. I have more problems with carbohydrates than the sugar. Love bread, and many forms of starches. Although sugar doesn't come far behind. Maybe I'm wrong, but seems to me that maybe these types of food trigger the serotonin levels in some individuals.

    So, it boils down to the fact that moderation is the key to both of these items, and I have to be acutely aware of what goes into my mouth & how much, as well as not giving in to these cravings. Therefore, I think that it is actually a "mind over matter" thing with most of us.

    Also, a thanks to the person that wrote about Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. I'll bet that many people never heard of this group. Will also check this out.

  • This is a great article. As one who has always been mindful of the effects of different things on my own body, including foods, I am acutely aware that if I eat sugar in the morning I'm setting myself up for sugar all day unless there is absolutely no more in the house. I do crave things like chocolate and potato chips so I try very hard not to have those things in my cabinets. Still, if the craving persists, while I'm out, I will get ONE chocolate bar or one small bag of potato chips to satisfy my craving. It helps.

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