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Duck Your Cravings: Let ’em float right by!

By Michelle May, M.D.

The holiday season officially began with Halloween and will continue right through Valentine’s Day! For many people with diabetes, this season is associated with food cravings that can feel overwhelming at times. Many people find that the more they try to resist their cravings, the stronger they grow.

One way to take the power out of your cravings is to imagine them in a neutral way. Here’s an example of how to picture your cravings like something that holds no power over you whatsoever.

A Calm Lake, Interrupted

I had a limited view of the lake through the window from where I was sitting. The water was calm and peaceful, when from the edge of the pane, a duck drifted into my awareness. I watched it bob Duck Swimmingin the middle then float away. The ripples slowly receded back into the lake and it was still again.

Minutes later several ducks paddled in from the other side of the window. They splashed about, apparently struggling for something below the surface. The strongest duck swam directly toward the window, circled several times then paddled back the way it came, followed by the rest.

How like my cravings! They seem to appear from nowhere and capture my attention. The difference is that I’ve never had a seemingly uncontrollable urge to jump up and devour a duck! Instead, I can watch a duck with a detached awareness. I feel curious, even entertained, but uncompelled to take any action. I allow the duck to just drift away, unconcerned about where it goes or when another will emerge.

Duck Your Cravings

Learning to observe your cravings in a curious but uninvolved manner can take the power out them. Try this exercise:

  1. The next time you have a craving, stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, and focus on your breath.
  2. Observe the craving as if it was a duck, bobbing around in your awareness. Become curious but remain calmly detached as you watch it.
  3. If the craving becomes stronger, imagine that it is simply paddling toward you.
  4. If you feel compelled to stop and eat the object of your craving, smile as you picture yourself chasing down an innocent duck.
  5. Practice slowing and deepening your breath as you patiently wait for the craving to turn and float away.
  6. Imagine the lake returning to peaceful stillness.

About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.


  1. Kris says:

    I really like the analogy of a duck and cravings. I have used it a couple of times, and usually end up laughing to myself as I chase an innocent duck on a pond.

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