When cravings hitch a ride in your grocery cart

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We’ve all seen this scene in the grocery store: A parent navigating the cereal aisle in search of Cheerios while simultaneously trying to keep the kids from putting half of the store’s supply of sugar in the cart.

If you eavesdrop for a minute or two – and who can avoid it? – you hear something like this:

“Ooh, ooh, can we get some Froot Loops?”

“Mommy, where’s the ice cream?”

“I WANT SOME CANDY!”

Whoever decided to put Candy Land right next to the cereal and peanut butter is an evil marketing genius.

I’m telling you, parents deserve hazard pay for shopping for food with toddlers in tow. But they’re not the only ones who face a battle of wills at the grocery store.

When someone starts trying to eat healthier, cravings can throw a tantrum that rivals any hungry 3-year-old who missed his afternoon nap.

You may go to the store with every intention of bringing home only plenty of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains and lean meats.

But you can’t get a baby sitter for your cravings and leave them at home, so they hitch a ride in your cart. And at every turn, they beg, plead and bargain for all kinds of things that aren’t on your list.

Don’t cave in just yet. Here are some tips that can help keep those cravings in line:

-Take the edge off. I chew some sugarless mint gum when I go grocery shopping. It distracts my cravings and soothes my sweet tooth.

-Find some healthier favorites. Make sure you put some healthy foods in your cart that your taste buds really love. That way, when your cravings won’t stop whining about the chips and cookies they saw two aisles ago, you can remind them about the favorite fruit or popcorn that you’re taking home instead.

-Pick the right time. Stay away from the store when you’re starving or stressed out because cravings are harder to control at that point. I try to plan meals ahead and shop only once or twice a week to keep temptations to a minimum.

-Have an exit strategy. Just like if your child were having a total meltdown in the middle of the store, if your cravings are really going crazy, sometimes you may need to tell them, “Cut it out or we’re leaving.” If all else fails, it’s better to leave an almost-full cart at the store than to come home with bags full of junk food that could wreck your willpower.

-Use the power of bribery. Take a page from a parental playbook and use the tried-and-true reward strategy. Tell yourself that if you keep up with your workouts and stick to your healthy meal plans that week, you’ll let your cravings pick out one thing they want the next time you go to the store. Then put that candy bar, pint of ice cream or bag of chips in your cart guilt-free.

Kathy Manweiler has lost 100 pounds. Reach her at 316-268-6266 or kmanweilerwichitaeagle.com.

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