How to Battle Cravings

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How to Battle Cravings

“Urge Surfing” after bariatric surgery

Most of us have dealt with food cravings or those urges to consume some type of inappropriate food while on a prescribed JSAPA Weight Loss Surgery plan.  What exactly makes up a craving? What causes the urge to grab that bowl of ice cream, reach for a bag of chips, or drive through a hamburger place and order in the safety of the car?  Because we don’t know when, where, or how often they will strike, what steps can be taken to prepare for those times when an urge or craving rears its ugly head.

Cravings are caused by stressors.  Events that cause stress come along unexpectedly and fill us with feelings of anger, frustration, or sadness. It is so much easier to feed those feelings with comforting creamy ice cream, crunchy chips, or a bag of cookies than to worry about dealing with the stressor in a healthier way.

Dealing with a craving requires a small amount of preparation. Having a strategy that you can follow the moment an urge threatens to overpower you will substantially increase your chances of successfully beating the urge.

Try “Urge Surfing,” a term coined by Dr. Alan Marlatt.  An urge or craving usually lasts about 15 minutes.  Set a timer and begin with the following:

  1. Consume a glass of water; you may be thirsty and that will satisfy the urge.
  2. Distract yourself by selecting an activity from a list of things you have written down for such occasions.  Take a walk, play with the children, or weed the garden.  The activity simply has to distract you for 15 minutes so make it something enjoyable and not associated with food.

Review your food and activity diary.  The food diary is an essential tool for managing your weight.  It will keep you on track, keep you honest, and give a critical assessment of your consumption.

If after the 15 minutes, you give into the craving; don’t beat yourself up.  Consider it a slip and get back on the path to a healthful lifestyle.


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