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Craving Junk Food? Tips for Dealing with Cravings with Diabetes

Marianne Evans-Ramsay, RD, CDE, LD, Wentworth Health Partners Diabetes Services

So often food cravings are related to overeating - eating more carbohydrates than desired which may lead to higher blood sugars. This can be frustrating when you are working on improving your health with diabetes.

We have physical needs for fueling our bodies and when those needs are not met we may end up swinging on a pendulum from a very strong hunger to an uncomfortable fullness. When we under eat or go too long between meals, we may experience intense cravings as our body tells us it needs fuel.

Individuals with diabetes may report intense craving or even physical hunger between meals. Reflecting on what you eat and when you eat may help you uncover the reasons for your cravings. You may discover that 5 hours between meals is not cutting it. Or that you eat too little or an unbalanced meal.

When cravings arise, ask, “could I eat a meal with protein, vegetables and a starch right now?”

If the answer is yes, your body may need fuel.

If the answer is no, try exploring other reasons for your cravings. Does my body need to move right now and engage muscles? Am I tired enough to have a nap or close my eyes for 10 minutes? Just as hunger and thirst can be confused, so can eating and needs for movement or rest.

What if craving persists? Distinguishing between a craving and a need can be a next step. When we have a persistent craving, it may be a need. We are often in the habit of blaming ourselves for everything and when we cannot will them away using self-control, we feel we are weak or have failed. Taking a compassionate and inquisitive approach involves some new questions and perspectives. A Buddhist perspective is, to be human is to crave and acknowledge that as humans we crave ease.

Tolerating a craving may involve taking a deliberate pause and noticing the arc of cravings: the beginning, the middle and end. We can practice observing, like a third person. This practicing takes work to cultivate but as we do, this gives us an opportunity to see that this is a temporary state.

Often, we are craving what appears as food, but what we are really craving is NOT food.

Join the Sweet Support Podcast and hear Marianne Evans-Ramsay and Megrette Fletcher, two dietitians specializing in diabetes care, as they get curious about what is behind a craving and explore 3 antidotes to cravings: practicing non-judgement, curiosity and self-compassion.

To learn more about the Insulin Knife and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital’s Diabetes Services call (603) 740-2887 or listen to our Sweet Support Podcast.

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