The Fuzzy Line Between a Craving and a Habit

I was walking home after a great meal with some friends-after which I felt completely satisfied-not too full, and definitely not still hungry. As I got closer to my apartment, I had this sort of twitch inside that wanted something sweet. While I am definitely a pro-dessert person (when the time is right) sometimes I don’t think I actually need dessert or something sweet following a meal. It made me think, am I actually craving something sweet (like does my body need sugar?) or, am I in the habit of eating something sweet after a meal? I clearly wasn’t hungry.

Besides the chemical and physiological aspect of wanting/craving sugar, I think that sometimes it is very easy for me to mix up what is just a habit and what is a craving. I think that the line is very fuzzy, but worth attempting to distinguish to make sure I am making the right choices for me when I am trying to be healthy and take care of myself.

Before finally arriving home, I decided I wasn’t going to go seek out something sweet because I had had a weekend with a lot of visitors that included tasting yummy treats and things and I felt that I needed a little break from all of that (not in a restrictive way, but in a balanced way). So I told myself no and felt alright about it in the moment. In my experience, once I get on the train of having a lot of sweet things repeatedly, I get back into the habit of it as a normal, everyday thing, which isn’t always the best for me.

Then…I walked into my apartment and smelled freshly baked cookies. My lovely roommate was making them (which she should continue to do because she lives there too!), and all of my thinking on the walk home sort of went out the window. I didn’t overeat (my hand did go into the batter a few times though), but I did then end up having dessert. It felt okay, but it forced me to think again about the whole habit versus craving thing and what had just happened in the span of about fifteen minutes. Did I need a cookie? Probably not. Did I want a cookie? Yes. Did I want it because I was in the habit of eating dessert? Maybe…probably. Was it the best for my body in that moment (considered I had eaten a fair amount of sweets for the three days before)? Maybe not. Anyways, it happened and I didn’t freak out about it at all, just reflected upon it.

I’m definitely still learning how to best listen to my body and distinguish what it is really saying and separating out mindless following of habit. Its no longer the weekend, and sometimes I have to remind my body of that too! To me, giving up a habit that isn’t the greatest for me feels more manageable than giving up a craving, because some times I have a craving for a healthy salad or hearty soup and whole grain bread (or chocolate when I am about to get my period). All of these things are probably what my body needs in the moment and important to listen to.

Do you ever find the line between habit and craving to be fuzzy and confusing? Any ways that you handle making it more clear and steering yourself in the direction that is best for you? -Morgan

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3 Responses to The Fuzzy Line Between a Craving and a Habit

  1. Sunny says:

    I love this post, Morgan. I was actually going through the very same thing. I made John a big lemon cake for Valentine’s Day, and we nibbled from it for days. And then, when I was away in Vancouver last week, I had a couple cookies and tastes of dessert. I feel like it’s gone from having a serving of a delicious dessert I really wanted to just a habit-one that doesn’t make my body feel all that great. xo…Sunny

  2. Gayle says:

    So incredibly well said. The thing is is that I never crave healthy foods and my choc/sweets/carbs thing is definitely a habit. It wouldn’t be so bad if I could just have one of anything. Your roommate’s cookies . . . let’s just say my daughter baked cookies last week and put a note on them saying they were for science and poisonous so I wouldn’t eat them. It worked. So my line is clear. Habit in the course of my BED/BN. *le sigh*

  3. Katie says:

    If there is any time to go ahead and have a cookie with zero guilt, it’s when your roommate has just removed a warm one from the oven. A warm chocolate chip cookie is one of life’s great sensual experiences.

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