Written by: Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Kim Feinstein, RedMountain Weight Loss’s Behavioral Weight Loss Specialist
The “5 D’s” of Coping with Triggers
As the intensity of a craving builds, it feels like it will last forever. However, research indicates a craving typically lasts for about 25-30 minutes before subsiding. So, before you give in to your craving, I encourage you to delay as long as possible. If 25-30 minutes seems like eternity, start with 5-minute intervals and work your way up to 30 minutes. It gets easier the more you practice this!
While you are delaying, it is important to distract yourself with something pleasurable other than food! Try to do something that evokes an opposite emotion from the one that is triggering you. Some examples include reading a book or magazine, playing an enjoyable game on your computer, tablet, or phone, calling a friend.
While you are “delaying” and “distracting”, it is best to distance yourself from any food source. This will help minimize the likelihood of giving into the craving.
If the craving is still intense and the previous “3 D’s” are not helping, I encourage you to determine, “How will eating make me feel in the LONG TERM?” We know that it will give you relief for only 20 minutes, before needing another “dose.” So ask yourself, “Is emotional eating in line with my goals?” “Why is weight loss and weight management so important to me?” See if you can self-talk your way to success.
If all of the above D’s are still not helping and you must indulge in your craving, decide:
1. How much am I going to eat? Will I eat the entire bag of chips? Or will I have some?
2. Where am I going to eat the food? Am I going to eat it in my pantry, car, standing up, etc.? Or, am I going to eat at a table and enjoy the experience?
3. How fast am I going to eat? Will I stuff the food in my mouth rapidly? Or, will I chew slowly and savor each bite?
4. With what hand will I eat? I encourage you to eat with your non-dominant hand (i.e., if you are right-handed, eat with your left hand and visa versa). This will slow you down and prompt you to respond to your craving rather than react to it with old habits.
Give the “5 D’s” test a try! What do you have to lose?