Kicking the cravings
I have always been on the 'chubby' side and ever since I can remember, I have even tended to associate all my memories with food. In fact, my aunt's pet name for me when I was a kid was… 'Chocolate.' (This must reveal a lot about my size…)
For most of my life, (well, pretty much all of my life, up to this point), I have always been, what the fashion world calls, 'pear shaped.' I never looked like those skinny, tall, flat super models on Fashion TV. To be honest, my size or shape didn't really get to me until I started realising that I could have serious health issues due to being on the chubbier side of life!
Until I left school, I did not bother at all with what I ate. Be it the yummy lunch packets or the not so yummy fried piti bolé coated with chilli powder or the gem biscuits which we also called 'Pamela's' (little biscuits with hard, colourful, cone-like shaped icing on top) or ice palams ah… or the smell of freshly baked hot dogs in the mornings with a quarter of a sausage in it, from the school tuck shop… these were all part of my diet along of course, with what my mother packed for me in the morning.
So yes, it would come as no surprise that I was well on the way to 'chubby land.' Once I hit 19 and completed my A/Levels I realised that enough was enough and I needed to start focusing on losing weight.
Then began a series of diets… from water and crackers to no breakfast to no dinner or fruits only in the night or avoiding starch completely. However, none of these really helped my cause. I was not losing any weight. If ever a friend would wave a yummy chocolate chip cookie, or that amazing cookie shake at a famous Deli or fresh ice cream sundaes made at home… I would give in. Battling my cravings was never an easy task.
What is a craving? Well, it can be considered a great longing or wanting or desire for something or even someone! Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia quotes from Pali the term, Tanha which is commonly used in Buddhism, and this meaning covers "thirst, desire, craving, wanting, longing, yearning…" for me, it was all this and more, when it came to food!
I did some surfing over the net and I came up with a few things as to how best one can battle those cravings.
First of all, what I found out was that cravings have to do with blood sugar. So if you have a consistent level of blood sugar through the course of the day, your eating patterns will also be consistent. However by starving yourself for long periods of time, cravings kick in and the result of that is, you stuff yourself with whatever is in the way.
Haren (18) "Well yeah, I get them I guess but not really that often, most of the time something has to trigger them I don't just suddenly get the urge." He went on to explain, "Like if I eat one bit of a really good chocolate then I get the urge and then it becomes hard to not binge, like on M&M's or something."
With regard to whether it creates a problem for him, "It's not really a problem for me though because like I said only if I eat one bit of chocolate will I get the craving so it hasn't really been a problem."
"Craving for chocolate and my emotions… not too much although if I'm feeling a little sulky and I have some chocolates at hand then I'll probably whack them but since I normally don't have that many chocolates, again, I don't really have an issue with it," he said.
"Yes I do get cravings. I mostly crave chocolates and ice cream. By chocolate of course I don't only refer to the chocolate bars. Anything chocolaty, like biscuit pudding, fudge, mousse…" said Rehan (19) adding, "My cravings are in no way emotionally driven. Unless of course you take 'being in the mood' for chocolate as being emotionally driven towards it. I have these cravings quite often. Almost thrice a week I would presume. I usually don't have to control them because they are not urges I can't control," he said.
He went on to say, "Usually lack of opportunity to get what I crave for usually helps me control it. Healthwise it doesn't affect me at all since my metabolism is well geared for it and thus leaves me with no dilemma what-so-ever in giving into my cravings."
Speaking to Nicole (23), she said, "When I crave to eat I drink something instead," adding, "now I have gotten used to drinking diet coke; that way it has the sweetness and the gas sort of fills me up so it keeps me satisfied."
"If it is really bad I just have a small piece of chocolate!" she quipped. Before learning to control her cravings she said, "I used to just go and eat whatever I could get… like go raid the fridge basically."
Nicole went on to say, " I think I eat because I am emotional so instead of eating my feelings out I just talk to someone or put some music on which fits my mood."
It seems one's blood sugar can fall very low after not eating for just four hours. Therefore you tend to raid the fridge or the food cupboard and get your hands on whatever comes your way. But the chances are that you will choose carbohydrates… Why? Well, because they give you a quick boost.
"What is it like to crave? Well, it's something that can hit you at any given moment. One minute you'll be working or relaxing and suddenly you'll find yourself craving something like chocolates or chips (depending on what you like)," said Aneesha (24). She went on to say, "sometimes cravings can become a pattern... like you'll find yourself craving something sweet after meals."
As to whether she gives into her craving, "well that depends on the individual but I find that I do give into my cravings but I try to moderate them, like if I feel I need chocolate I'd try and have smaller quantities and stretch it out over a couple of days of course things like stress can sometimes affect your decisions."
She went on to say, "if you feel you're over worked and you crave something you feel you deserve it because you've been working so hard so you might give into the cravings."