I saw this post yesterday written by Karol Gajda on his blog RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Karol blogs about his travels and living a minimalist life, and he also happens to be a vegan. His post yesterday was awesome. We all have our cravings (mine at one time, post changing my food habits, was hot dogs, which only took half of one to kill forever), and here’s one way to deal with them. Obviously this approach isn’t meant to be done often. But if every few months you give yourself some extra rope and go nuts, rock on.

Radical indulgence: the act of overdoing your whims and desires.

I’m often asked a variation the following question: “Do you ever crave meat or any other foods that you don’t eat?”

My answer is no. I have not craved meat even once since I stopped eating it. I believe it’s because of a complete mindset shift when I made the decision. It was a slow process, but when it happened I was all-in.

That said, I do crave other unhealthy foods. Sometimes I crave pizza. Sometimes I crave potato chips. Sometimes I crave Dr Pepper.

Like most cravings, these usually go away fairly quickly and I’ll just eat a banana or whatever else is handy.

But sometimes I’ll have a persistent craving.

And when that happens, although it’s not often, I practice what I call radical indulgence.

Warning! Radical indulgence is … well … radical.

I stopped drinking soda when I was 20 years old. That’s not to say that I never drink soda, but it’s very rare.

And yet, sometimes I get an irresistible craving for Dr Pepper (or its cheap Wal-Mart counterpart with the much more fun name of Dr Thunder). My friend Kenny can attest to this. Once or twice over the 5 years I have known him I have gone on a Dr Pepper/Dr Thunder binge.

One week of Dr Thunder!

When I have an irresistible craving, instead of feeling stressed and letting the craving fester, I go all out. (Photo is proof.) I indulge the craving to the far extreme. Breakfast/lunch/dinner.

So why do I do this?

Have you ever heard a story about a teenager going out to drink, coming home drunk, and their Parents either forcing them to drink until puking or forcing them to stay awake until absolute exhaustion? It’s similar to that, although it’s more effective since you have complete control. (Nothing will work long term if you’re forced into it.)

When I go through a soda binge I get so sick of the drink that it’s a very long time before I care to drink it again. Although I’ve drank soda since that last binge in the photo, it’s very rare.

Usually the indulgence is not so radical and I’ve done this on a smaller scale as well. A few weeks ago a friend of mine was talking about eating potato chips with everything. Potato chips with bananas, potato chips with breakfast, potato chips with tea, and so on. I thought it was hilarious. And then I found myself craving potato chips. The craving didn’t go away, so I went out, bought a back of potato chips, and ate the whole damn thing.

If you’re the type of person who can’t indulge in cravings because they will turn into full-blown addictions then this technique obviously isn’t for you. What I mean is, indulging your heroin habit by overdosing isn’t a good idea. 🙂

But it’s perfectly OK to indulge in most persistent cravings for short periods of time. Some people who do diets (I don’t believe in dieting) advocate cheat days where you can eat whatever you want. Radical indulgence is similar except it might last just an hour (a bag of potato chips) or a whole week (17 bottles of soda) and it is practiced with much less regularity. There is no “radical indulgence” day every week. That would be far too often.

Once you begin eating healthier foods and leading a generally healthier lifestyle most of your bad cravings will go away.

When your cravings just won’t go away, practice radical indulgence and let me know how it goes.

Jump on over to this post on Karol’s page to participate in the discussion.

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