When embarking upon a new, healthy lifestyle people often struggle with coming to terms with eliminating certain things from their diet. Usually the types of foods that are now "forbidden" are of course all the things that we seem to enjoy the most: cookies, cake, chips, french fries etc. Of course going from eating pretty much whatever you want to promising yourself that you will "never have another french fry again!" is a pretty difficult transition and quite frankly, nearly impossible! Even those of us with iron will power struggle with nearly impossible-to-resist cravings from time to time. I'm sure many of you whose New Year's resolution was to eat better have probably dealt with cravings at least once since January 1st. My advice on cravings, from years of doing all the wrong things, will hopefully help you stay on track and reach your goals while not feeling deprived!
Speaking of "deprived" that's usually the word one most associates with being on a "diet". I can tell you from first-hand experience (as I'm sure so can many of you) that even with the best of intentions and resolve, any diet program built upon deprivation is doomed to fail. I love chocolate. I love chocolate so much that if I were told I could never have it again as long as I live I don't think I'd want to go on! So why would I embark on any sort of lifestyle swearing off one of the very things I enjoy most in life?! Life is meant to be enjoyable and food is one of life's most enjoyable pleasures. So my first piece of advice is get rid of the "all or nothing" mentality that often plagues dieters. You have to tell yourself that if you want a french fry, you can have a french fry. You can't have a 4lb bag of frozen french fries obviously, but if you are feeling like you absolutely need french fries, then allow yourself to have a few, knowing that if tomorrow you are going to want them again, you are "allowed" to indulge a bit.
So now you might be wondering why I'm advocating eating "unhealthy" foods when one has decided to change their lifestyle and my response would be that I'm not. Every diet should leave room for some indulgence. Whether it be a serving of organic ice cream, some dark chocolate or the occasional french fry, as long as you try to eat healthy 90% of the time, allow yourself the pleasure of eating something decadent 10% of the time. I've found that this goes back to the dreaded "all or nothing" mentality and why that never works. How many times have you forbade yourself from eating a certain food, only to then give into the craving and figure "well if I ate one french fry, I might as well eat 3 pounds of french fries!!". That mentality is extremely dangerous, where having a few french fries will most likely not do much damage to your weight loss routine (as long as you allocate for those calories, which is easily done), giving into that deprived state and gorging will most definitely negatively impact your weight loss goal.
Surprsingly, allowing yourself a mini indulgence in the thing it is you are craving may actually save you some calories. I can't tell you how many times I tried to eat around a craving, as if eating an apple would somehow satisfy my craving for a cookie, of course it didn't! So I'd go thru an apple, another apple, maybe some peanut butter, a little cereal and after all that would still be craving a cookie, so I'd finally give in and allow myself the cookie! Now if I would have just said to myself "I can have one cookie" I would have sated my craving and skipped the 400 calories worth of trying to eat around the cookie craving.
Now letting yourself "give in" to your craving is not some free pass to just eat everything you want and then play dumb when you don't reach any of your weight/fitness goals. As I mentioned earlier you do have to make sure you are eating all the healthy, nutrient-dense, "right" foods 90% of the time as well as working out, which then will allow you that 10% of freedom to indulge in foods you never thought you'd be able to eat while dieting*. An easy way to succesfully fit in these treat foods is to allocate 10% of your daily caloric goal directly to those "treat foods" and make sure you pay attention to how much you eat so you don't accidentally go over your calorie goal. I do recommend that you try to buy "healthier" versions of the foods you know you are going to crave, look for organic/baked/less salt/no trans fat etc. versions which will still taste just as good but won't have such a harmful impact on your health.
I hope that my advice on "cravings" will help you stay the path on your goals, and as I said before most of us who struggle with our weight love food and shouldn't ever feel like we are depriving ourselves. As long as the bulk of your calories are coming from healthful foods there is nothing wrong with allowing yourself some of the little indulgences that make life so much better!
*I hate the word "dieting" as it suggests one is either on a diet or off a diet, the one thing I hope you will glean from my website is that you really have to change your perspective on eating/working out and knwo that it is as much a lifestyle change as everybody says.