Delay for Greater Control

In a previous blog, I wrote about cravings and how they often aren’t about hunger. Instead, we misinterpret some other feeling of discomfort (like sadness or boredom) as needing something to eat. The interesting thing about cravings is they usually go away—we just don’t ever give them a chance. We simply give in to the desire.

In a previous blog, I wrote about cravings and how they often aren’t about hunger.  Instead, we misinterpret some other feeling of discomfort (like sadness or boredom) as needing something to eat.  The interesting thing about cravings is they usually go away—we just don’t ever give them a chance.  We simply give in to the desire.

For most people an absolute goal like, “I’ll never eat cookies again” is destined to fail.  Instead, put some time between the feeling and giving in to it. Most cravings last less than 15 minutes before they go away.


Therefore, use the “20 minute rule.” Next time you feel an overwhelming urge to eat something that isn’t part of your healthy lifestyle, set the kitchen timer for 20 minutes.  Say, “I may eat that eventually but I’m going to at least put 20 minutes between me and my craving.” Next, do something that’s fun or distracting or engaging and is not related to eating. Call a friend, play a game on the computer, take the dog for a walk. It’s even better to do something that’s incompatible with eating. It’s really hard to eat chips when you’ve just painted your nails. It’s impossible to eat a sandwich while taking a shower.

What if 20 minutes go by and you’re still certain you’re hungry? At least you put some control between you and the craving and you can continue to feel more in control by:

  • Writing it down in your food journal
  • Limit it to a 100-calorie serving
  • Eat it slowly
  • Focus on your eating – no watching TV (even The Dr. Oz Show), driving in your car, reading a book. 

What's Really Causing Your Obesity: Nature or Nurture?

It's more complex than too many calories and not enough physical activity.

The American Medical Association officially recognized obesity as a disease in 2013. But in the past 13 years, there's not been much of a shift in the understanding of what causes obesity — not in the general public, in people who contend with the condition or in the practice of medicine. Most people still think of obesity as a character flaw caused by too many calories and not enough physical activity. But it's much more complex than that.

A study analyzing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data found that even though US adults' BMI increased between 1988 and 2006, the amount of calories adults consumed and the energy they expended were unchanged. It also appears that the quality of calories consumed (low versus high glycemic index) is as important a consideration as the total quantity. And genetics only explains about 2.7% variation in people's weight, according to a study in Nature. That all adds up to this: The two most common explanations for obesity — calories in, calories out and family history — cannot, by themselves, explain the current epidemic.

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