i wanna bacon double chocolate butter cake in my tummy all winter long!
December 9, 2007 10:49 PM   Subscribe

stop me from fattening up for the winter.

it's cold and dark outside, but it's warm and creamy inside.
i've spent the last week eating like a bear about to hibernate. big chunks of cheese, chocolate, buttery toast, pudding, an entire package of cookie dough, several boxes of sugary cereal. and for the past 3 days, i've been fantasizing about making and eating an entire tray of fudge. this cannot go on.

i know i shouldn't buy this stuff- i usually don't- but right now, the real problem is how bad i WANT it. i bought some healthy treats, like melon & pomegranates, to snack on instead, and i end up eating those, and then finding some candy. this is laughable. i'm like a bear with one hand in the honey pot. i've put on 3 pounds in the past 10 days. my internal monologue has turned into "i wanna eat a chocolate piggy in my tummy here!" usually i crave junk food in healthy quantities- i'll buy some and it lasts all week- so this is kind of new to me, and it has to stop, stat. help me, please!

what should i do to kill the cravings? what should i eat instead to satisfy them?
posted by twistofrhyme to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Check out this site on cravings

this may sound unconventional, but let yourself have it, declare that you are going to eat it and eat it. sometimes doing that whole back and forth mind drama, i want it but i know i shouldn't/can't, etc. only makes you want to do it more. it's like your little internal kid rebelling against your internal "you should eat healthy" parent. i think some people are more addicted to the drama and resistance that it ends up really not being about the cravings at all.

have it, enjoy it, get over it.
don't have it, be fine with it, and get over it.

sometimes people crave sweets because they don't feel like they are having enough fun in their life, or because they feel out of control in another area of their life, or they don't feel satisfied with life. i don't know whether this applies to you or not, but i've seen this with other people.
posted by healthyliving at 11:14 PM on December 9, 2007

I know the times I crave food weirdly are the times when I'm overworked and specifically when I'm behind in my work. Eating is a very easy (very easily achieved) source of pleasure. For me it's when I'm behind on a deadline that I want to eat a lot; for some reason it actually feels like an accomplishment to satisfy myself well, and I think it's probably a thinly veiled substitute for accomplishing work, like "here's something I know I can achieve to my full satisfaction without investing much time" and/or just a means of procrastination.

If these cravings are new for you, could they be coming from new pressure in your life like a new job, new responsibilities or just the stress of doing lots of stuff for the holidays?

(I hope you don't mind me also throwing in the thought that it might be pregnancy? I don't know if that's a concern for you, but personally that would be my first wonder if I had cravings I hadn't had before.)
posted by sparrows at 11:22 PM on December 9, 2007

Response by poster: aaagh! pregnancy- i hadn't even thought of that! *does math, regains breath.*
unless it's immaculate, there's no way- but thanks for tossing a girl's heart up into her throat for a sec!
posted by twistofrhyme at 11:35 PM on December 9, 2007

Everytime you get a craving drink a huge glass of water before you allow yourself to have it. It might make the craving go away but even if it doesn't you'll eat less of whatever you're craving.
posted by sharkfu at 11:41 PM on December 9, 2007

It makes sense to eat more in the winter and put on some weight. Maybe if you made a big (I mean huge) pot of chicken soup or beef stew or chili, you could hibernate on that rather than cereal and chocolate? It would probably also make you feel better.

Own your hibernation, I say. I live in a dark place in the winter and I make huge meaty stews every other day, and then as long as I'm eating so much I try to lift heavy weights three times a week so that at least some of the weight goes to muscle rather than fat.
posted by creasy boy at 11:44 PM on December 9, 2007

I was addicted to rich, creamy foods, too. When i changed my eating habits, I just threw every bad food away. I tend to get cravings and binge, so I knew if the food was around, I'd eat it. I got rid of the sugar and cocoa powder so I can't bake goodies, and all the bad snacky foods, packaged salty and sweet foods, sugar cereals--everything.

My plan was not only to replace bad foods with good foods, but also to generally eat less. I knew if I stayed in the habit of constantly eating (even if it were carrots, fruit, etc.), my brain and stomach would always want more more more. So I stopped a lot of the snacking. I had to teach myself discipline. I left my credit card at home when I went to work so that I wouldn't be able to buy fast food at lunch. Tricks like that.

Now, since your main problem is eating too much at home, here's what I would do. Don't prepare a lot of food at once--even healthy food--because you'll just eat it all in a weak moment. Only prepare what you should eat in that sitting. If you're still hungry when you finish, you might be deterred by thinking about getting everything out of the fridge again, washing the pots and pans again, washing your dishes again, putting everything back again.
posted by HotPatatta at 12:32 AM on December 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Regarding eating at home. If you eat in bed or in front of the tv, make a decision that you won't eat outside the kitchen (or dining room or wherever). We eat anything we like, but we do it at the kitchen table. Being incredibly lazy means that we won't go out to the kitchen in the middle of a show, sit at the table and eat a bowl of chips, while we would happily have done that while watching TV or gaming or whatever.
posted by Iteki at 1:38 AM on December 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

When I decided I wanted to lose some weight I made an easy deal with myself: if I excercised enough that I was losing weight, once I hit my target weight I could basically eat whatever I wanted as long as I could exercise it off. I swim, it's enjoyable and does wonders for my mood. Being cheerier means i am less inclined to gorge in the first place.

So, I know you'd like eating tips in which case mine are

- hummus
- avocado
- roasted garlic
- olive oil on everything [bread + oil is good]

but really, if you're worried about weight, think about offsetting eating with execise and don't beat yourself up for food. Granted, healthy eating habits are a good idea to cultivate generally in which case I'd suggest MODERATION enforced by scarcity if you need that.

I also keep a small bowl of little tasty things aorund [think hard candies, cough drops, strong flavored stuff like Fishermen's Friend] that I'll nibble on when I have a strong sweet craving but it's sated once I have just a little something. Also good lemonate, sweetened wiht honey or maple syrup.
posted by jessamyn at 3:01 AM on December 10, 2007

Can you go cold turkey? Because sometimes a fast works for me in situations like this (I work at home, it's cold and dark, so I put two (two!) pot pies in the oven and eat my ice cream before dinner). Anyway, a three day fast puts my mind back on track as well as my body--the way I eat in the weeks following a fast are very sane and healthy. You need to do it smartly (lots of water, teas, have some simple food on hand for breaking the fast--toast and apples), but it could be a way to reset your habits. (IANAD nor do I know your health situation, yadda, yadda.)
posted by cocoagirl at 3:27 AM on December 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

What about replacing some of those things with not-so-bad things? During the winter I drink hot cocoa with lowfat milk as a warming snack. If you get one of the gourmet brands (not Quik) it only has about 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar per serving. And milk is good for you.

However, an entire package of cookie dough does sound kind of extreme-- maybe it's less the content and more the amount of what you're eating? Even if you're not pregnant, have you changed medications or anything like that recently?
posted by miss tea at 5:01 AM on December 10, 2007

Make food inconvenient -- don't store it nearby for easy snacking. Have a glass of water before every meal. Add more illumination/light to your morning rituals -- lots of really bright light if possible (SAD lamp, or very bright desk lighting). And, if you can swing it, get at least half an hour of walking in every day. Even if it's just walking to the convenience store for a king size chocolate bar.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:13 AM on December 10, 2007

Are you around your period? Maybe you're having especially strong PMS.

My nurse practitioner told me to make sure I was getting plenty of B-vitamins--she said lack of them can trigger fatty-creamy-sweet cravings. Get a B-100 vitamin complex (B-50 will do, but it's important it's B-50 or B-100) and take regularly. Not a quick fix but may help with next month.
posted by Anonymous at 5:34 AM on December 10, 2007

Oh man, I know what you're going through. Seconding the idea of requiring yourself to drink a large glass of water before you can have anything else. I've heard that many times the feeling of hunger (or a craving) is actually masking the feeling of thirst, especially if you usually drink a lot of other fluids instead of water (i.e. soda, juice, coffee).

Also, note if the cravings are triggered by any specific activity, such as sitting down at the computer or watching TV. Try to actively spend less time doing that triggering activity, if possible. Go clean the bathroom, or take the dog for a walk instead - anything to get break yourself out of that watching TV = must-have-chocolate-chip-cookies mentality.

And my last completely-unhelpful tip is to do what I do - indulge the cravings until after the first Bloody Mary of January 1st, and then get back to healthy habits with the New Year.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:55 AM on December 10, 2007

Haha, yeah sounds like me when it's the middle of winter and I have horrible finals. I just can't buy the junk. Period. I can't trust myself.

Instead, I buy a whole crate of clementines, a sweet winter comfort food. It's still sugar, but a million times less horrible than eating a whole bag of Christmas candy.

Also, I find if I have one deliciously filling meal that has a lot of "good fats" each day, it reduces my cravings for the rest of the day.
posted by melissam at 6:57 AM on December 10, 2007

Do some pushups.
posted by tiburon at 7:14 AM on December 10, 2007

Check out these threads for some alternate food suggestions (especially the first).
posted by waterlily at 7:17 AM on December 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I had a terrible time contending with stress-driven sugar cravings (and gained 30 pounds as a result). I found that what seemed to be cravings for sugar were actually a sign that my body was dehydrated and wanted water- and while it might sound odd, having plain or lemon-lime sodium-free sparkling water scratched the itch perfectly. Something about having a little bit of texture in your mouth. I also became a big fan of a cup of sweet tea- this one is my absolute favorite. It helps you feel warm and toasty, gives you that sweet sensation, and is caffeine-free. I've lost all the weight and am heading into another East Coast winter without fantasies of diving into a swimming pool of Gruyere before scaling a mountain of muffins.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 10:46 AM on December 10, 2007

Do you have a recipe for that bacon double chocolate butter cake? I live in hibernation country and I want to bring it to the next potluck at work...

Letting yourself splurge for a couple weeks may not hurt. I notice that in Fairbanks, AK, in the winter it's "I'll take a giant double-chocolate breve mocha" and in the summer it's "sugar-free non-fat latte," and we all put on a few pounds in the winter months and take them off in the summer months.

There's a list here of foods high in tryptophan that suggests that those foods may help boost serotonin levels; maybe including more of those in your diet can help reduce cravings.

It might also be possible to trick yourself with little pieces; if I buy a chocolate bar, I eat it. If I buy a can of chocolate pearls the same total weight as a chocolate bar, I nibble on them for 3-4 days and am more satisfied overall.
posted by Cricket at 11:27 AM on December 10, 2007

Protein - that will cut down on your cravings. I have a problem with carbs - if I eat too many I just start craving sugary things and cannot get enough. As soon as I eat a better balance (for me it is the Zone or 40% carb, 30% protien and 30% fat) the cravings go away. I am a sugar-holic and this is the only thing that works for me. Give it two or three days and your cravings will be gone. You will eat less calories of the food you do it too.
posted by shaarog at 1:35 PM on December 10, 2007

Only go to the grocery store when you are full. I find I choose much more rational items this way. If I shop when I'm hungry then I end up with a bunch of junk food.

Get rid of all the junk in your house. It would be better to "waste it" (give it away or throw it out) than to eat it. Seriously.

Take up an indoor activity like swimming, weightlifting, squash, etc. Even taking up a nightly activity that isn't sitting around with access to food would be a good idea.
posted by ODiV at 2:34 PM on December 10, 2007

I don't even worry about this stuff anymore because I do the Shangri-La Diet. It stops you from craving junk food and it makes holidays insanely easy.
posted by fan_of_all_things_small at 5:25 PM on December 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Holidays and winter fattening, I might add, since that is what you asked about specifically.
posted by fan_of_all_things_small at 5:27 PM on December 10, 2007

Response by poster: thanks for the advice, all!
the cravings have mostly died down- your suggestions were great- thanks! while there are too many to mark as best answer, in order to help any others who are led here by the scent of crisco, i thought i'd outline what helped me:

the fact that i was bingeing probably actually helped me get over it- i just over-binged for a week or so, til i got sick of sweets. in fact, on christmas eve, my boyfriend put a roll of cookie dough in my stocking, and i only ate one bite- after that, i just didn't want any more. it's still sitting in the fridge and the very idea of it grosses me out right now.
i re-joined the gym and ran a few miles a day for a few days. made me feel healthier.
i got a glass i really like (it's a cute little mason jar) and started filling it with water and carrying it around the house. i think the suggestions that i was dehydrated were on the money- i had recently resolved to stop buying bottled water for environmental reasons, and i wasn't replacing that habit with a new water source, so i was just really thirsty.
i tried jessamyn's advice about eating a cough drop to chase away a binge, it worked! lemon fisherman's friend, yeah! intensely minty gum seems to work, too.
i ate an entire case of clementies.
and, oddly, i think that writing this question helped- it made the whole thing seem more ridiculous and therefore easier to overcome.
thanks again!
posted by twistofrhyme at 5:12 PM on January 1, 2008

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