How to Beat Food Cravings and Overeating Once and for All

Ruth Wolever, PhD, is a clinical health psychologist, the Director of Research at Duke Integrative Medicine, an advisor to the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at the Duke School of Medicine. Beth Reardon, MS, RD, LDN, previously the Director of Integrative and Functional Nutrition at Duke Integrative Medicine and Senior Nutrition Advisor for Caring.com, currently has a private practice in the Boston area.

WomanCravingDonuts_400It might seem counterintuitive, but learning to tune in to the flavor of food–eating mindfully–can help you curb overeating and indulge your cravings in a healthy way. Here’s an example of how it works. From The Mindful Diet: How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health.

Whether you consider yourself a healthy eater or a “junk-food junkie,” and whatever flavors or particular foods are your weakness, you can learn a lot from adopting a connoisseur’s approach. Whether you’re eating a salad or a Snickers bar, practice shifting the way that you attend to flavor. This means slowing down and tuning in to the first few bites of whatever you’re eating. You can do this whether you’re alone in a quiet room or with a big group in a noisy restaurant.

Using taste satiety is very helpful for cravings. If you’re craving a cookie, for instance, you can certainly try to wait out the craving or substitute something naturally sweet. But you can also go ahead and have the cookie, eating it slowly and in small bites, with great attention and mindfulness. Focus your senses on its mouthfeel, texture, and flavor— and ask yourself after each bite whether you’ve had enough. You’ll likely get just as much satisfaction from a few bites as from the whole thing—and you’ll miss out on the negative consequences of overeating.

The Mindful Diet: How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health

The Mindful Diet: How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health

by Ruth Wolever PhD, Beth Reardon MS, RD, LDN and Tania Hannan

  • Get The Mindful Diet: How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health
  • Get The Mindful Diet: How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health
  • Get The Mindful Diet: How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health
  • Get The Mindful Diet: How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health
  • Get The Mindful Diet: How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health

Lydia, who had a weakness for onion rings, practiced eating them mindfully instead, attending to flavor. Two things happened. “I found that I could eat two onion rings really mindfully and get a lot of satisfaction out of them,” she said. And by slowing way down, instead of gobbling them quickly, she got to experience what cold onion rings tasted like: soggy and unappealing. “It was kind of heartbreaking,” she said. But by experiencing her former obsession as unpleasant, she found that she stopped obsessing about onion rings.

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