Almost uncontrollable fast-food cravings

Hello everyone, first time poster here :)

I'm pretty much a professional dieter by now - and have had a lot of experience with Weight Watchers and Slimming World. Once I lost 4.5 stone with WW and almost reached goal - but in classic yo-yo fashion, put all the weight back on and more. That's why I decided to try something a little more sustainable, sensible and frankly, cheaper!

The problem is (and has always been), that I suffer from uncontrollable urges to eat takeaway. I work in London (live in Kent) and get home from work around 7pm most nights. As you can imagine, cooking up a healthy meal is often the last thing I feel like doing, and over the past 2 years, have gotten used to grabbing up to 3 takeaways on a bad week (KFC, chinese, thai, chicken kebabs being my favourites). On other days, I would cook up something fast but not healthy (fajitas with lots of cheese, for example!)

I found every excuse to get takeaway. I had a good day at work, I had a bad day at work, I had a boring day at work. Celebrating any possible occasion, or if nothing to celebrate, then commiserating. Takeaway was 100% my reward system.

And now that I can't have it, I feel like the cravings and the wrestling with myself is taking over. Last night for example, I finished work late and wouldn't be due home till 8pm. I was overwhelmed with cravings for KFC - how quick it would be to pick up, how delicious it would taste, no washing up, and it's not even that expensive. I spent the entire time fighting myself in my brain not to do it.

I remind myself that I will feel sick afterwards (I always over-indulge), that I will probably have a bad tummy, that it's expensive compared to home cooked, and how disappointed I'll feel when I weigh in, how my chest will burn with acid indigestion and wake me up halfway through the night. But it's still so hard - I started to wonder if I'm fully addicted.

Others suggest different reward systems - hot bubble baths, getting a manicure (expensive!) and so on - but none of them are as quick, easy and reliable as food. I'm looking for help from a therapist at the moment because I live in perpetual argument with myself - talking myself down from a takeaway. Last week I did have a chicken shish kebab... but with salad and no sauce (low fat mayo from home), which helped a bit with the cravings.

Sorry for the MEGA post but really needed to get that off my chest! Do any of you suffer from similar feelings of addiction/cravings to bad food?

6 Replies

  • Slow cookers are great put all the food in before work and when you arrive home dinner will be ready

  • Thanks Bonni1, I did actually buy a slow cooker, but most of the recipes seemed to require a lot of prep (like pre-frying vegetables and the like), which obviously I didn't have time for in the morning. If anyone knows of any recipes that are light on pre-prep, I'd be delighted to hear them!

  • I always just cut everything up and put it all in and that's it ;)

    Or get micro meals and add a portion of veg done in the micro wave or on the job while the meal is in the microwave

  • I don't know whether this will help but it would seem that you need to get organised, in such a way that there is a wholesome meal waiting for you at home.

    Many cookers have timers on the oven and they are great for stews, casseroles, roasts and jacket spuds. Arriving home to the smell of freshly cooked food is a real pleasure.

    Microwaves are good for knocking up quick meals and for the occasional ding dinner.

    Pressure cookers cook food in a trice.

    Slow cookers are also great.

    Each of these appliances are good in certain circumstances, to either provide freshly cooked food on your arrival or to provide a very quick way of cooking from scratch.

    It's well worth exploring the recipes for each and planning the meals for the week. With casseroles and stews, I tend to cook three or four times the amount I need and then freeze the rest in one meal portions so that they can be reheated very quickly.

    Living this way requires thinking ahead, which is something we are all required to do in the workplace but often fail at in our personal lives.

    I hope this has been of use to you and I'm sorry I can't give a more detailed answer as I have some work to get on with.

    One final thought, I have worked in central London, arriving during the very early hours, and I have seen the number of rats which gather near food outlets. I think I would prefer to eat at home if at all possible. :)

  • Sorry to hear this. My craving was always chocolate and sweets. I started doing batch cooking on an evening or weekend when I had more time. I'd make a recipe for 4 or 5 and then split it into what would be used that evening and what could be frozen for later use. This meant we were getting healthy meals on the nights we'd be getting home and rushing out quickly. They could go in the microwave while we were getting ready to go out. I found the Hairy Bikers Diet book was great and even had quite "takeaway" recipes that were tastier and healthier than the takeaway bought stuff. I also make lots of soups with chunky vegetables and lentils which is great. I'd cook up about 2 - 3 different dishes at the one time and make sure the freezer was full.

    You owe it to yourself to treat your body well and I know it's tough when you pass all those lovely smelling takeaway shops on the way home and you are feeling tired after a day of long commutes and work. Just keep reminding yourself about how awful you feel after eating them and your reward can be feeling great after a good home cooked meal. They don't have to take that long to prepare. Stir-fry's are great and quick to do. There are a lot of healthy recipes now that can be prepared and cooked in under 15 minutes.

    Why not look for ides for healthy eating rather than dieting. Sometimes just changing your view on what you are doing can be of help. Your mind is used to you dieting and then putting the weight back on, so why not trying something different that you haven't done before that way your mind won't have you already set to fail cause it's something different and you haven't failed at it yet. Keep fruit and any veg like carrots or something similar on hand that you can nibble on when you get home if you are hungry while you cook your tea.

    Also a good one is drink a glass of water when you feel that you are hungry or you fancy a take-away, wait 30 minutes and if you still feel hungry then you need to eat, but then if you are home you could have your tea already for you.

    I am drinking water when I feel like I need chocolate and funnily enough it does help by the time I've drunk a glass of water I'm not interested in the chocolate anymore. :-D

    Also if you have a bad day and end up getting a takeway don't beat yourself up too badly. Tomorrow is another day and a once in a while treat is good. Keeping a food diary is also a good thing to do. What are you eating and when? Could be you need to eat healthy snacks in-between meals to stave off the hunger pangs. Are you overloading on caffeine cause that can cause you to feel hungry (coffee, fizzy drinks, etc)

    I hope some of the suggestions above help. Some are time consuming to start with but once you get into the routine it is okay.

    I hop you can find someone to help.

    Take care.

  • Hope that the therapist is helpful. Bear in mind that addiction can be physical as well as psychological.

    Fast food is made to be addictive, so that it gets you coming back for more. Have a look at the idea of "Bliss points" in manufactured foods. Food producers spend big money to get these right and get us hooked. The book "Salt, Sugar, Fat" by Michael Moss, describes it well.

    The book "Fat Chance" by the American obesity specialist Robert Lustig gives a good explanation on how food affects our bodies, if you're interested in what happens. Understanding your body may be some help in combating the cravings.

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