Let’s talk cravings.
We all get them. Whether it be for chocolate…
Carrot sticks (it happens sometimes)…
Or McDonald’s fries…
I’m pretty sure I can safely say that everyone knows that feeling of: “Omigosh I need ______ in my life right now or someone’s going to get hurt.” Admit it. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. The other day I got hit with a mad craving for McDonald’s and probably would have mowed right over anyone who got between me and the drive-through. True story.
So we all get cravings… the difference lies in how we handle them.
Do you always honor your cravings? Giving in to them no matter what they are?
Do you selectively honor your cravings? Giving in to the “good” ones but ignoring the “bad”? Or giving in to the “bad” ones on some occasions but not others?
Do you completely ignore your cravings? (is that even possible??)
My own approach? I really have no idea – I don’t have a problem with honoring my less-than-healthy cravings, but would I honor those cravings if they were the only things I wanted to eat? Probably not. I know that eating too many unhealthy foods doesn’t leave me feeling my best, but I also know that my body naturally starts to gravitate back towards craving healthier foods after a period of indulgence, which is why I don’t have a problem honoring them when they do show up, I suppose.
That definitely wasn’t always the case, though. I remember when I was in the beginning stages of my eating disorder recovery, I clung to my safe, clean foods and refused to eat anything even remotely “dirty.” In fact, I managed to convince myself that I didn’t even like those foods anymore. Chocolate? Overrated. Candy? Not interested. Ice cream? No thank you. Heck, I wouldn’t even eat bananas because they were “too sweet.”
So I ate my nuts, apples, berries, egg whites, and oats. I still gained weight (healthy food has calories too) and my body healed, but my mind definite’y did not. I ended up close to my initial target weight with plenty of fear foods and a restrictive mentality in tow, wishing that I had challenged myself in the early stages when I had more weight to gain. Why? Because I found myself starting to get curious about those forbidden foods – I craved them – but I was afraid that if I gave myself even a small taste, I would start wanting them all the time, eat them like crazy, and end up gaining more weight than I was comfortable with. Oh the horror.
But as I’m sure many of us know, ignoring a craving is a maddening ordeal – like trying to ignore an itch that refuses to go away until you scratch it – and eventually, even the iron will of my disordered mind began to crack and I made the venture into forbidden territory.
I’m going to be honest with you here. In those initial stages, I probably did go a little bit overboard with the sweets and junk food. After not eating those things for so long, it was like the flood gates suddenly opened and all I craved was candy and chocolate. In short, my biggest fears seemed to by coming true. But you know what? Those cravings died down. The more I let myself eat those foods, the less I started wanting them – probably because a) I was satisfying my cravings, and b) my mind realized that those foods weren’t going anywhere so it didn’t feel the need to go to town when the pickings were good. It was a terrifying process, to be sure, but after swinging from one extreme (never craving junk food) to the other (craving junk food all the time), I finally found myself somewhere in the middle.
I wish I could tell you how it happened, but I’m honestly not sure. It’s been a long journey full of ups, downs, happy tears, and sad tears; but if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that not listening to my cravings usually gets me into trouble in the long run. A craving ignored is a craving intensified, and a craving intensified is a difficult thing to deal with.
. – . – . – .
Would love to hear your thoughts!
How do you handle your cravings when it comes to those not-so-healthy foods?
What kinds of foods do you usually find yourself craving?
Lately, I have been craving a lot of fatty and sugary food. It’s hard because I am trying to balance my eating. This is giving me a lot of anxiety. All I want is to be in touch with a dietician to understand how to handle cravings in a healthy way. I am not trying to stop myself from eating “junk” food, or less nutritious food. But thats all I have been craving 🙁 and thats giving me a lot of anxiety. Like my brain wants veggies, but my body wants to eat the whole McDonalds menu 24/7 🙁
Hi! This post really helped Me, I just would like to know how long this period lasted For? I feel like I’m stuck in the limbo of craving chocolate all the time and either eating tons of it or not having any at All! I’ve been recovering from anorexia for about a year, and I feel the exact same! I stuck to my safe foods mostly, and now I’m at a healthy weight and all of a sudden my body wants all the chocolate and ice cream!!! I’m absolutely terrified and wondering how long this lasted for you? Thankyou!! <3
This post is literally so helpful! I thought I was the only one and it was so discouraging! Ive battled an eating disorder for so long and for about four years I denied myself absoulutley anything that was relatively close to a dessert and one day i couldnt take it any more when i was presented with my (used to be) absolute favorite cookie dough and i know i probably went really overboard but honestly I couldnt help it and I felt like well okay I will just eat it this one time but of course now I find myself craving it again🤦🏼♀️ Im wondering if the best thing to do is just let myself give in to these severe dessert cravings in my recovery process so that hopefully they subside.. its just relatively hard when it comes to worrying about the weight gain that could come from eating upwards of 6000 calories of dessert (since somethings so small can be so calorie dense). Any advice?
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I think there is something to honoring your cravings, but I think some restraint (not for folks dealing with ed) is necessary. Strictly honoring your cravings for most people leads to weight gain, which turns into health problems and in America, the majority of us are overweight so some restraint would be useful, especially when it comes to the type of food consumed, the quality and the quantity. That being said, I don’t think it’s realistic and you’re setting yourself up for failure to say you’ll never eat chocolate, sweets, etc again. My personal philosophy is indulge in moderation and make sure it’s quality when I do.
Great post. Thank you. 🙂 Have you ever dealth with late-night eating? I don’t mean 11 p.m. or midnight. I mean falling asleep for the night and waking up around 1 or 2 a.m. and eating, not because of hunger, but just because? I know it sounds strange, but I have been dealing with it lately and it is very concerning.
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
I’ve definitely woken up in the middle of the night and grabbed something to eat, but it was always because I was hungry so I’m not quite sure what to tell you 😕 Are you sure it’s not a case of hunger for you as well? A lot of the time, my hunger doesn’t really show up in the traditional sense, but eating something always makes my symptoms go away.
I can absolutely relate. Cravings are no longer a big thing for me, most of the time I can’t figure out what I want to eat (indecision monster right here), and I’ll eat whatever. But for a while, once I allowed myself to eat whatever again, I went overboard, too, and at times thought it was a downwards spiral. But somehow, with time, it all subsided, and my body trusted me, and I, it. Funny how these things happen when you trust in the process. I knew I couldn’t live a life a restriction anymore, so I was willing to accept any “imperfections” that came along to get towards healthy. 🙂
I’ve been reading the blog http://www.youreatopia.com a lot and she talks a lot about the different stages of recovery from a restrictive eating disorder. I’m not sure if it’s in this post or not (http://www.youreatopia.com/blog/2012/11/23/phases-of-recovery-from-a-restrictive-eating-disorder.html) but she talks about how on the road to recovery you just need to eat what you crave…no matter what. It’s not really exactly what you were talking about in this post, but I thought I would share this website with you (and hopefully other people will see it) because it has truly motivated me to stop exercising and just DO IT.
Also Matt Stone….his two books “Diet Recovery’ and “Diet Recovery 2″…in order to reclaim your metabolism you have to eat
– EAT A LOT
– Eat junk (ice cream, milkshakes, pizza, burgers, etc)
– Eat big till full, then repeat again
Interesting and valid stuff.. I linked all the articles in my comment above but my comment is awaiting moderation…
That’s me Amanda…I’m LETTING myself eat the “crap” now…and I’m going overboard…like 7 days/nights per week….like ….a lot of chocolate, ice cream, cookies, entire jars of peanut butter ALL together at like midnight…so I feel so badly…its been going on for a LONG time..ugh
I remember reading a book a long time ago that said when women were on a diet (whether they were now overweight or normal weight or whatever doesn’t matter), they’d go and visit the author of this book (an RD) and she’d help them escape that mentality and give them FREEDOM…and the women told their stories about how they’d gorge on 15 donuts per day or entire cakes 7 nights/week, etc for MONTHS, even a year or so, (and these are women ranging from under, normal or over weight) UNTIL they finally felt “okay”…they were free an they could realize they could have those things anytime, wasn’t a “no-no” and THEN they were okay…
still makes me feel badly though that I’m eting like 1000 cals of junk every single night (every night) for over a year now) and losing it.
I WISH I’d let myself have the junk when I was able to still exercise way back when…now its like guilt x 1000 because I eat the junk, am constipated and don’t exercise…so…I feel so regretful you know? Like it would have been mentally easier to cope 🙁
I dunno. I just feel alone. Ive yet to meet anyone like me cause I still tend to eat what I think I “should” versus want, then every single day/night just lose it and eat more and more junk and let myself…but don’t move and am highly constipated, so I just feel so….”wrong”….tired of this and of me. Really. Sorry, I’m ashamed to post this. I am. I’m sorry.
I hope this blog post helps you!
Thanks…but for me I feel its “emotional”…or its STILL hard because I
A) don’t exercise
B) am constipated
so I feel I’m gaining “wrong”….
I know it takes big cals, etc..but still…
All of the following articles are good: (Everyone should read them!):
Shreya @ rushofendorphins
I am totally with you on this. I never used to give in to my cravings, and once I did I used to eat ice-cream every.single.day. Needless to say I did get tired of it, and now I know better so I give in to anything my heart desires!
Laura Agar Wilson (@lauraagarwilson)
Apart from chocolate I rarely get cravings for anything I’d ever consider unhealthy. Last week I really wanted muesli so bought a box and ate the whole thing, it was fabulous! I do somethings fancy fish and chips, but like I said I tend not to even consider that unhealthy really – I don’t think its about good or bad foods, just good and bad amounts of them if anything 😉
Sara @ Nourish and Flourish
Your recovery experience sounds very similar to my second recovery. I actually developed my ED when I was just 13, and during my first “recovery,” managed to regain all the weight in a 2-3 month time span by eating lots of “junk” food. A year spent without even a crumb of my favorite foods pass my lips left me feeling enormously deprived, so I “recovered” by eating pizza, chips and ice cream without abandon. On the outside it appeared that everything was “normal” again, however on the inside I was experiencing intense pangs of guilt. A year later, I relapsed, which was even worse than the first bout. Once I was ready to regain the weight again, I was terrified of doing it the “wrong way,” so I only ate clean foods. Like you, I reached a healthy weight by filling up on egg whites, veggies, nut butter ( measured perfectly, of course), sweet potatoes etc. etc, which made incorporating the forbidden foods back into my diet even more frightening. The cravings were there, but the guilt-associated aversions were stronger. However, over time, I began allowing myself small tastes, and once I was comfortable with those tastes, I transitioned to measured servings, and then non-measured servings. Now I’m at a place where I acknowledge my cravings about 75% of the time, which feels about right….at least *right now.* 🙂
Fantastic post, Amanda! Hope you’re enjoying your weekend! <3
Sabrina @ Nutritiously Sweet
I use to be a binge eater and totally went through my once of month binge and would eat like 1,500 calories in like once sitting. It was horrible, so when I was losing weight, I somewhat deprived myself but obviously that is no good either. I ended up going crazy from time to time. Maybe about 500 cals, so not as bad. Now I give into the craving because I know if I do, it wont him me for a long time.
Nicole @ FruitnFitness
I crave nut butter on a daily basis and the occasional random treats as well like chocolate, ice cream and cookies. I usually almost always give in to cravings and just try to eat a reasonable amount and not eat the entire carton of ice cream or bag of cookies.
Alyssa @ Road to RD
I get cravings for chocolate if I haven’t eaten a balanced enough meal! I’ll usually just have a small square of dark chocolate and all will be well (until my next meal).
Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli
I love that you posted about this! I’m just NOW getting to the point where I truly understand the importance of “giving in” to ALL my cravings. In the past, I would always honor my cravings for “good” food but ignore or try to substitute for the cravings for the “bad” ones…and that NEVER worked out. I once got this intense craving for chocolate, BUT I thought I knew better (because I don’t even like chocolate…so yeah, that couldn’t be right) so instead I fixed myself something else…but then I wanted more…so I had something else…and the feeling was still there…which only lead to a full blown binge ending innnnnnnn Heather getting the damn chocolate chips out of the pantry! I always keep that little story in mind nowadays when I think about ignoring a craving for anything…your body wants what your body wants…resistance is futile…and will only eventually end in disaster.
One question I have for you…do you ever find yourself with fleeting cravings? Like, you think you want something but then the thought just kind of goes away…sometimes coming back momentarily a few days later, but then going away again? Not sure if that makes sense, but it’s funny that you should bring up McDonald’s because that’s what I’ve been experiencing with a craving for chicken nuggets lately. I haven’t had them in YEARS, but all of a sudden a craving came out of nowhere a few weeks ago…but then it passed. I don’t know if it’s an actual craving or if it’s just some curiosity since I’ve only recently welcomed “play food” into my life without guilt. Thoughts?
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
I get those fleeting cravings as well; not so much anymore, but definitely when I first started eating “play foods.” Honestly, I would go for it – if for nothing else, then to kill the curiosity. I ate a lot of foods that I sorta/kinda craved during my recovery that I didn’t even end up liking that much, but it gave me a better idea of what I liked vs. what my ED was telling me that I liked. I think it’s important to experiment when you’re trying to figure out a more intuitive approach to eating.
Yea….about those cravings….
Im still not very good at controlling myself, which is why I just try to keep it out of the house. If Im at a restaurant and eat a ton of fries, fine whatever, because they wont be at home. If we have a bag of chips in the house however…that can be an issue, because I will probably get a craving late at night and eat the entire bag. I kid you not. Same with candy, which is why Halloween and I don’t get along. I think because I just NEVER eat the stuff, when a craving hits I don’t know how to control it, and I just let it do its thing. Which probably isn’t very good! lol
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
Not labelling it as off limits and letting myself enjoy some every day without guilt is what really helped me get past that hurdle.
Brittany @ Delights and Delectables
I love you! I think that when we are truly craving something, we need to allow our bodies to have it. I used to be so scared of eating fats after my surgery because the doctors said I would have a hard time with it. I did at first, so when my body started to crave it I never gave in. When I finally did, my body did fine. I think our bodies have a way of telling us what it really needs. And sometimes… it needs chocolate! 🙂
Lisa @ Lisa the Vegetarian
It can be SO hard for me to say no to my cravings, but I do try to be careful with how many I give into. I don’t crave sweets very often, but when I do, that craving is stronger than any other. I often can’t resist it!
Honestly, I think I honor my cravings a little too much these days. Most of my cravings are not the most ideal foods for me because I know I’ll feel more sluggish after I eat them and in need of energy. However, I’ve also experienced those times where I didn’t honor those so called ‘bad’ cravings for a while which in the end, ended up biting me in the butt since the moment I ‘let go’, I went way overboard with the junk food.
I guess I’m still searching for that healthy balance.
PS- those fries and ice cream look crazy delish 🙂
Aimée @ The Aimee Diaries
For some reason I don’t ever get cravings. I think it’s because I’m naturally very intuitive, so rather than craving something, I know what I need (that’s not to say sometimes I know I need chocolate and some not to healthy things (; ). I wish for once i could have that ‘omg I want this right now!’ but it never happens. Unless I’m overseas that is. Then my heart yearns for toast with butter and Vegemite. You can take the girl out of Australia, but you can’t take Australia out of the girl!
What happens when children who are constantly hawked over and over-protected by their parents move away to university for the first time? Very much of the time they go absolutely overboard, party until they crash hard and then kind of fall into a more moderate balance of studying and partying. Sometimes they stay extremely protected and sheltered and sometimes they crash and burn. I think that cravings are the same thing. When we move from extreme restriction into the real world, we tend to realize the freedom that we have and over-indulge. Once those carnal needs are satisfied and our body finally sees that we won’t be shutting ourselves in food purgatory forever once again, things level-out and become more normalized.
I’m not going to lie … I’m not at that stage yet. I’m just not. Perhaps that’s something that you and I can discuss at some point. <3
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
Love the analogy, girl! And any time you wanna talk about it, just let me know 🙂
Ashley @ AlmostVegGirlie
I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t eaten it in so long, but I don’t really crave fast food or junk food ever. I do get cravings for weird things sometimes though. The other day, it was guacamole and luckily I had some ripe avocados so I could whip up a homemade batch. I crave dark chocolate pretty much every day, I’ve been craving summer fruits like watermelon and berries lately now that they’re starting to be in season, stuff like that. But I also started craving my former favorite quinoa pasta which I’ve been avoiding for months for no good reason (other than I was shunning grains because of the paleo fad) but I decided to make a springy pasta salad with it so hopefully I can fulfill that craving within the next few days!
Court Star @ StarSystemz
I was SO like that back in the day and it is truly crazy how once you start letting yourself go with the flow as I say, or just eating what you want, you end up taking just ONE cookie instead of hoarding the entire box because you let go of the “this is it, I will be good again tomorrow” concept and just let yourself live. Its a beautiful way of life once this notion happens and for my own personal self I can’t even remember the last time I had certain foods that I would eat on “cheat/BINGE myself” days because I do not crave them anymore because I can HAVE THEM! Great post and McD’s french fries are BOMB Sending you an amazing weekend Amanda! Love + Shine CourtStar
laura @ beanstalk
Great post, girl!
I tend to crave sweets. It seems to come in waves. Some days/weeks I can turn down any and all sweet treats coming my way. Some days I over-indulge & inevitably feel guilty. The best days are the ones with balance. Why is chocolate so darn good?
As usual Amanda, great post! You know what I love about you & your blog. No? Well, it’s your honesty. You don’t sugar coat situations or your feelings. Never change hunnie.. just continue being YOU <3
Liv @ Life as Liv
One of the the hardest parts in my journey of leaning to intuitively eat is letting myself get rid of those “good” and “bad” labels that I put on food for so long. Just figuring out exactly what I was craving, and honoring those cravings, even if it’s for mint chocolate chip ice cream, has been difficult, but so mentally healing for me. I’m still working towards completely removing those labels, but I’m happy to continue on my own healing journey!
I can definitely relate – my biggest fear when I was in recovery was that I would never stop eating but like you – something just clicked! My motto is everything in moderation – life is all about balance.
Amanda… between your photography, sense of humor, beautiful house, and very down to earth outlook on life, I pretty much want to be your best friend, haha! I always look forward to your posts… so this is my way of just dropping you a compliment and saying thanks for being awesome!
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
Awwwr gush. Well thank you for your sweet words, Erin! 😀
last night i was craving bacon, eggs, GF pancakes, and salad. yes salad,weird? but i think cravings are a sign of something your body might be lacking, that’s if you are not stressed. it is sometimes hard to tell what the body needs vs. wants. But i think cravings are meant to be shared and that way we don’t have gorge ourselves on unhealthy things, just share them with a family or friend and enjoy the company, yes?
p.s. I made all those cravings last night and my husband was happy. So was i! the house smelled like bacon. gahhh.. soo good!
Oh man, I totally went through that “EAT ALL THE THINGS” phase! lol. and it really only lasted about a month or so but it completely freaked me out. Nowadays the way I operate with cravings really depends on what I’m doing with my running. When I’m training, say I have a craving for ice cream one night, but I know that ice cream = indigestion and I have an important workout the next morning. That’s when I say nope, sorry, no ice cream…and I just get it the next night, when I don’t have to worry about taking pit stops in the middle of intervals. But right now I’m obviously not training, so I do tend to listen to my cravings. Often if I want something, I don’t need a huge amount of it to satisfy myself…but if I ignore that craving, I end up binging. Not cute.
I think not honouring your cravings leads to a not-so-fun binge, and that’s why people get scared of that kind of food.
I tend to let myself have those foods! Heck, I was craving greeeaaaaassyyy Fish and Chips all week, so Dad and I are having it for dinner tonight! I tend to crave things like chocolate (obviously! 😛 ), chocolate cake, carrots (I am a carrot FIEND), cornflakes, chips, crisps, hmmmm I can’t think of any more. I tend to crave the normal kind of stuff. Although I’m glad you crave carrots too 😛
Irina @ Chocolatea Time
I experienced something similar when I decided to give up sweets/sugar one day (whyyyy) and then eventually started eating them again. My body went absolutely crazy upon introducing sugar back into my diet – it was all I wanted! Eventually though as with anything with our bodies, I realized that sugar wasn’t going anywhere so more wholesome & satisfying cravings returned. Talk about a lesson learned! Nowadays, I almost always give in to cravings. I say ‘almost’ because usually my craving is just masking what I really need. If the craving remains for a full day or two then I don’t hesitate satisfying it 🙂
Great post!! Sorry I disappeared for a few weeks…I’ve been reading of course! Missed ya, pretty lady 🙂
[email protected] for the Soul
hahah I have to say that this post was preeeety awesome!!! : )))) By the way, are you pregnant by any chance? Just kidding. It sounds like I’m not the only one who’s thought about the irony of cravings.
I definitely think that when I just go with the flow and eat whatever I really want at that particular moment within moderation, I do much better with not overindulging later on. I think that there’s still self control and that sometimes if we wait it out we find out that those cravings were momentary, but sometimes you just HAVE to honor them! So I’m definitely lenient with eating what I want–but usually with moderation, and soon enough I’ll only want the normal stuff I’m used to eating. You find that when you satisfy that craving you don’t really want it again for a good while so it works out in the end. 😀
And I’m soooo sorry Amanda! I’ve been TRYING to mail you the DVDs but suddenly so much stuff started happening lately I just couldn’t even sit down to blog. I tried to mail it out today and when I was about to write your address at the post office, my phone started acting up so I couldn’t read your email–my phone has really bad storage space problems. I’ll get it out to you as soon as possible, girl! <333
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
Haha! Nope, not pregnant – the cravings are all me 😉 And don’t worry about it, love! It sounds like things have been pretty hectic for you, so don’t stress <3
Victoria @ Reluctantly Skinny
I’d say I selectively honor my food cravings. I usually try to ignore them if it’s late at night or something I saw on TV that I’m probably not REALLY craving. I tend to crave carbs, so I’ll try to healthify them by throwing lots of veggies into pasta! Frozen yogurt or chocolate cravings are always honored tho…
Love that you have learned to honour you cravings- I’m lucky that sweets are not as big a taboo in Italy as they seem to be in America. I had problems that stemmed from traumatic personal events from early childhood that left me with lingering feelings of worthlessness, but the types of food luckily never bothered me to much. During times of stress through my adolescence I would get so anxious and just neglect myself- I don’t think I craved anything except a peace of mind and calm which seemed so far away. So now I am older and realise I am worth treating myself with respect- and gelato and chocolate are every-day foods for me 🙂 I eat lots of pasta, pizza Cake gelato fruit vegetables all with equal desire- and I nor my family is overweight. Eat what makes you feel good and moderation will eventually kick in from respecting your body and feeling good (mostly anyways). Everything in moderation including moderation! Sometimes lots of chocolate and gelato (or YOUR craving) are just needed in life 😉 xo Sophia
I know your Canadian- not American 🙂 xo Sophia P.S- I always think Edmonton looks absolutely beautiful!
Sky @ The Blonde In Black
Yesterday I had a mad craving for a peanut butter and honey sandwich when I got home from class around 4 pm. I was just gonna go with a little snack, but sometimes you just have to have a pb and honey sandwich. Obviously I can completely relate 🙂 when I give into junk food cravings it does make me crave healthy food again, but I’ve learned that trying to resist those cravings sometimes is a bad idea in the long run. Loving your blog these days and I’m so glad that I got a chance to catch up on your posts today!
I don’t know if you realize how inspirational and helpful you are to others. I read your post after walking away from a glass of milk and a piece of pumpkin custard at least ten times because I didn’t have a good enough reason for eating it after dinner.
After I read your post, I thought about what my body was telling me…..it wanted something sweet and creamy. I fought hard to stay away, but then decided to give my body what it was craving. The custard was sweet and creamy and the glass of milk was delicious afterwards!!!!!!
Thanks so much for your candid words. They help people like me jump hurdles each and every day!!
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
Thank you for sharing that, Tonia! Those kind of victories are always the sweetest – not only because of the treat, but because of the freedom 🙂