At the end of the day, more often than not, the scope of weakness is identified. Around 5 p.m., or after dinner, food cravings are statistically strongest. Then we sometimes throw ourselves at a chocolate bar, chips, bread or cheese. These cravings are nothing to worry about. They are sometimes just the result of a previous meal that was too light. Who hasn’t had the experience of craving a super sweet snack after biting into a few mixed salads at lunch?
Stop depriving yourself (so much)
As long as the desire is still reasonable in quantity and/or occasional, there is really nothing to worry about. This can also be a signal to consider to enrich your main meals, for example with proteins or starches.
If these cravings become more frequent, the first thing to do is to monitor the composition of the meals. This is what I do with Mélanie, who every evening eats half a baguette and half Camembert or Comté cheese even while preparing dinner for the family. “I get home from work hungry, so I make myself a little toast, but it gets so out of hand, I can’t control it,” explains Melanie, who is deeply affected by these recurring cravings. “I have a job as a manager, I am very competent and efficient in my work. How can I not control a piece of bread?” she asks me.
I decided to spin the metaphor. “Melanie, if we cut your team size in half, if we cut your operating budget, would you be able to be just as efficient, to deliver such great results?”. She replied, “Of course not.”
It’s exactly the same with meals. If breakfast and/or lunch do not provide the energy and nutrients but also the pleasure necessary for psychophysical balance, there is a risk of dysfunction.
But Melanie voluntarily restricts herself to lunch. She eats mostly raw vegetables or vegetables, a little meat or fish occasionally, and never bread, potatoes, rice or pasta. As for dessert, it is non-existent. And no better at breakfast, with coffee and yoghurt.
It will take several sessions for Mélanie to admit to herself that she is afraid of gaining weight and that she is, in fact, exchanging restraints and “dropping out”. We will work together to put her back on the path of a diet more in line with her needs, which does not demonize or sanctify this or that food. Cravings will decrease after that, even gone.
Tame your impulsiveness
Agathe is not restricted at all. A sales manager at a manufacturer of luxury leather goods, she’s still called “good living.” She never refused pastries that her colleagues generously brought into the office. She always finishes her dishes and eats dessert at the restaurant with pleasure.
“Obviously, all of a sudden, I’m fat,” she told me. She’s also losing a few pounds when she consults me.
Her fun-filled look isn’t necessarily a brake. I have a plethora of “healthy” yet delicious recipes to suggest to her. I never suggest a restrictive diet and advise my patients not to cut themselves off from anything: it’s all about balance and moderation.
With Agathe, what we’ll work on first is her dash. This ultra-smiling quartet is the “everything on the spot” type. So I will suggest that he learn to wait. to allow the impulse wave to pass.
I told him about the RAS method I envisioned to gradually overcome the cravings associated with the impulse. It’s a method I detail in my book The Sweet Way to Eat Better (Leduc Editions) which consists of breathing, waiting, and enjoying. It is about reducing the urge to eat through breathing exercises, waiting a few minutes to reduce the impulse, and realizing that what seems irresistible can finally be tamed.
Initially skeptical, Agathe notes that the method produces its effects over time.
Learn to live with your feelings
Impulsiveness is a character trait that is forming. Likewise, it is possible to learn to better tolerate one’s own emotions, which are sometimes vectors for problematic behavior. Faustine, whom I had been counseling for several weeks, could see that her cravings were intimately linked to some of the feelings she was overwhelmed with.
This plastic arts student describes an almost immutable scenario: She comes home from college, somewhat tired, somewhat upset, and starts to snack. “It’s my airlock, it makes me feel good,” she explains. “But most of the time I can’t stop and it disgusts me.”
The bitter irony is that what often begins with pleasure-seeking, continues with a form of anesthesia – Melanie no longer feels anything, not even the taste of food, she is like a “tunnel”, a “black hole” – which only stops with the physical experience of the flood. Faustine re-emerges from this craving with a feeling of deep unease and self-loathing.
Not only does Faustin suffer from food cravings, but he also suffers from binge eating, an eating disorder that involves eating large amounts without a physiological need. This disorder often presents as episodic but recurrent attacks. With a heavy sense of guilt.
Several consultations will allow us, in collaboration with a psychiatrist, to shed light on Faustine’s difficulty living alone and some of the traumas that go back to childhood. Little by little, Faustine will come to terms with this loneliness, and will look her feelings in the face instead of “eating” them. Thus, little by little, she will regain her freedom of action.