Q: Erika, how do you fight cravings during that time of the month? I’m miserable, can’t hit the treadmill, & my appetite is always huge around this time….#ugh!

First, I’d have to ask – why can’t you hit the treadmill? Even for a walk… you can do something.

The answer to this question – as far as the technical stuff behind it – can get a little long and tricky, but you have to remember a few things when it comes to cravings.

First, if you’re not legitimately hungry… you need to seriously question why you’re craving anything.

Secondly, you need to work toward developing an understanding of why you crave certain foods. The reality is… a lot of it is emotional eating:

Once upon a time, in a land not very far from your home… lived mankind. No fast cars, no shiny structures, no skyscrapers, nothing. Just man.. rock… and animals.

See, this worked for man because his only task was to hunt wildlife, and gather his kill for his family. That was his responsibility. His purpose was to bring the salt and fat from the animal to the family. Not work, not bills… just hunt. Because life was much simpler then, this was man’s sole source of stress.

One day, man could not hunt. Every time he threw his spear, he’d miss his prey. He just couldn’t catch SQUAT! His family was to go hungry and he just… he couldn’t take it. The stress started to build up inside of him.

Because stress about the inability to eat is the only source of stress for man, his body became used to the eventual chain of events. His body knows: Lots of stress = lack of food coming in. How did his body react? His body decided to hold on to what it had – by way of diminishing the amount of energy his body could exert all at one time, by way of making sure his body took a very long time to lose weight, by way of making sure it held onto every pound and fat cell it could. This bodily reaction would only further compel man to step up his hunting skills… why? Because he didn’t want to feel that way! He didn’t want his family to feel that way! He had to get his caveman hustle on! When man was finally able to tackle that antelope or whatever-what-have-you, the fats and salts in the meat were sooooo satisfying that they would cure man of the bodily reaction to stress.

Compare this to emotional eating. The body’s reaction doesn’t change no matter what variables you swap out. Regardless if the stress comes from traffic, bad work day, or family problems… the body’s reaction to stress has not evolved as fast as society has. Now, we can get food within ten minutes if we drive or own a microwave. So presuming our body believes that stress is caused by a “famine on the way,” then it’s going to trigger feelings to make you go hunt! Our bodies just don’t know how easy it is to get food just yet. It hasn’t caught up.

This is what compels us to believe that emotional eating is the answer.

Emotional eating is defined as eating for a purpose other than curing hunger. If you’re eating for that gooey “Mmmmm” feeling, then yes – chances are, you might be emotionally eating. Approximately 75% of all overeating is attributed to emotional eating.

Because our bodies always provide this same reaction to food in a time of stress, our body’s reward system tells us that it makes sense to eat when stressed. It’s the fastest way to rid ourselves of this negative emotion, right? Stressed out about money and bills? You’re probably going to find the cheapest and quickest way to stick something in your mouth to give you that warm and fuzzy feeling. For some of us, that means we’ll be Dollar Menunaires for an hour. For some of us, that means we’ll be hittin’ up the Edy’s or Blue Bell. For others, we’ll be needing peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, or chocolate chip cookies.

Excerpted from Telling A Tale of Stress and Emotional Eating | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss

How can you overcome this?

Idle hands are the emotional eater’s playground. Go shower! Go play with the kids! Go for a walk – shoot, go running! Get yourself a giant glass of water and guzzle it. Occupy your time. Stay busy!

Sound too easy? Trust me – it’s not. It takes practice… but its a challenge worth undertaking!

How do you curb your cravings?