Just H.A.L.T. Those Food Cravings
When I was cranky and just downright in a bad mood, craving a burger and fries, a friend once told me I needed to H.A.L.T. I looked at him a little sideways as I had no idea what he was talking about. He proceeded to share with me the principle of H.A.L.T. which is to stop and recognize the “why” behind the bad mood and the subsequent craving. H.A.L.T. is a principle used in addiction recovery and is a wonderful tool for life, health, relationships with people and yes, relationships with food.
Most of our emotions can be attributed to one of these categories:
H – Hunger; are you hungry?
A – Angry; are you angry at someone or something?
L – Lonely; do you feel lonely?
T – Tired; are you feeling tired?
Our emotions are directly related to the foods we eat. We eat when we are happy, when we are sad, when we are nervous, and so on. Many emotions can trigger a desire to eat, whether you are really hungry or not. My friend’s advice to H.A.L.T was just what I needed – to stop, clearly take a moment to think about how I was feeling, and then make a reasonable decision for my next action. When rushing into action without understanding the “why” behind it, our decisions can sabotage our healthy lifestyle goals and lead to a viscious cycle of poor eating habits.
Take, for example, these common scenarios relating feelings to food. Feeling hungry, standing in front of the refrigerator at home or vending machine at work for endless moments because nothing seems appealing. Feeling angry and needing to take out aggression so the easiest choice is to grab a large bag of the crunchiest chips available and chomp, chomp, chomp til they are no more. Or let’s say loneliness is the culprit and it seems completely logical to stuff our face with double-triple chocolate cake cookies and ice cream while we watch Gone With The Wind for the third time on a Sunday. And let’s not forget about feeling tired and rationalizing the “energy” we get from pasta and stand mindlessly over the sink gobbling down last night’s four cheese bowtie.
The next time cravings overtake you, H.A.L.T. and consider these actions:
*Recognize the feeling and the craving
*Write them down – writing down how you feel and what you are craving will help you identify when you are in the same situation in the future. You will immediately feel more prepared and know what to do.
*Hunger is often attributed to dehydration. Drink a glass or two of water and wait 10 minutes. Chances are your craving will be gone. If you truly are hungry, eat a small meal or snack that consists of a protein like low-sodium deli turkey or baked chicken breast with a fresh vegetable like spinach, kale, or bell pepper. Your body and mind will thank you.
*Anger brings about the need to exert some energy. Go for a brisk walk around the block or a light jog. Play tennis or hike up the hill.
*Feeling lonely? Call your BFF or make new friends by taking a pilates class, visit your local church or community center and do some volunteer work. Research has shown people that volunteer are generally happier.
*When tired, make your late afternoon snack a pectin filled apple and make a pact to go to bed early. Lack of sleep is one of the signature causes for cravings and weight gain. Go to bed. When you do go to bed, turn off the TV, cellphone, iPad, and of course, the lights. Electronic and light distractions are proven to disrupt sleep and will leave you feeling tired. I wear a sleep mask at night and when I nap. Sleep masks are a resting body’s friend.
Feeling hungry? Just H.A.L.T.
With gourmet wishes and flattering waistlines… your friend,
The Bikini Chef®