Tips on how to control your urges

We rarely do things that we don’t have an urge to do.  Change the urge and you have more control of the behavior. urge-management NHN

Remember:  An URGE is not a COMMAND.  It is merely an urge, a nudge, an inclination.  It can be altered, if you know how, so that you are in CONTROL.

A useful tool in Urge Management is to RATE the level of your urge:

0 = absolutely no urge at all, and you won’t engage in the behavior
1 = you only know that you have had the urge before, but no desire at this time
2 = a passing thought
3 = an urge that you might consider following through with, or not
4 = a low level urge, easily managed by postponement or interruption
5 = definitely an urge, but you could substitute it with a readily available alternative
6 = an urge that you cannot deny, and that you start to give in to without thinking
7 = highly likely that you will give in to the urge
8 = an overwhelming desire to act on the urge
9 = you ARE going to act on the urge
10= NO ONE could stop you from acting on the urge. . . No One

Before you use any strategy listed below:

  1. Decide which urge you are going to tackle first, e.g., urge to splurge, to get angry, eat that cookie, smoke, bite your nails, etc.
  2. Rate your current URGE LEVEL
  3. Engage in one strategy suggested below
  4. Rate your urge level again.  Has it gone up, stayed the same, gone down?  What have you learned?
    • If up, use a different strategy
    • If the same, use the same strategy once more to see if there is a change, now
    • If lower, congratulate yourself, and put that strategy on your list to use again as needed

Keep using various strategies until you find the ones that work best specifically for YOU!

There are several categories of ways to manage all types of urges.  They are:

• Prevent the behavior
• Interrupt of minimize the urge
• Postpone the behavior of the urge
• Distract yourself from the urge
• Substitute the urge for a healthier behavior, prepared in advance
• Retrain your brain for a CHANGE

As an example, let’s take the common behavior of mindlessly overeating junk food.

Prevent the behavior:

  • When you are driving home (if you usually drive by a fast-food place, and habitually just stop in), drive home on a different street that avoids the temptation of that restaurant. If you are not on that street, it is very hard to Drive-In.  You have PREVENTED the behavior
  • Prepare your meals at home ahead of time, so that when you get home and are ready to eat, you will have nutritious foods ready for you
  • Decide AHEAD of time what you are going to eat or DO when you get hungry
  • Have your shopping under control. Never shop when you are hungry
  • Decide on high antioxidant, nutrient-rich foods, to put on your grocery list. Buy them
  • If it isn’t on your grocery list, it doesn’t get bought and brought into the house
  • Most of us are fortunately too lazy to:
    • have an urge for a food
    • stop what we are doing
    • get dressed
    • drive to a store and
    • purchase it
    • . . . and that is one time that we can be thankful for our laziness!

Interrupt or minimize the urge:

  • Clap your hands 3 times, stand up, sit back down
  • Go brush your teeth, WITH toothpaste
  • Walk to the water cooler, and smile at a colleague on your trip
  • Sniff peppermint . It will energize you when you are hungry
  • If there is a food that you REALLY want (desire level is a 9 on a 1-10 scale) simply SMELL it, close your eyes and imagine eating it.  Check your urge level again, which probably will have decreased.  If the level rises again, eat 1-2 bites of the food, imagine eating more, but don’t.  What is your urge level then?
    • Decide which bite was the most enjoyable
    • Most people enjoy the first 1-2 bites the most, and pleasure decreases with each subsequent bite
  • If you start to eat an undesired food, just switch hands.  You may find it much easier to put the food down!  Make your brain work a little so that every bite you take is a conscious decision and not an automatic behavior
  • Do you see a picture in our mind, in living color, of the food (or substance) that you are trying to avoid?  Change the picture to black and white.  How does THAT change your urge level?
  • Are there words in your mind compelling you to follow your urge?  Whose voice is speaking in your mind?  Change that voice to Mickey Mouse’s voice.  How does THAT change your urge level?

Postpone the behavior:       

  • Institute the ’15 minute’ rule.  As soon as you get a “cue” to eat, train yourself to wait just 15 minutes before you do.  This will help break the automatic response cycle in your brain that, ultimately, helps cancel out the old associations
  • Drink a glass of ice water.  Often, when we think we are hungry, we aren’t. . . we are merely thirsty.  Make it a habit. . . when hungry, FIRST, drink a glass of ice water
  • Have you ever noticed how only 4 ounces of tomato juice can tame the munchies while you are preparing a meal?
  • Tell yourself, “I could eat those fries, but won’t right now”

Distract from the urge:

  • Take the dog for a walk
  • Take 3 deep breaths
  • Call a friend
  • Pick up a magazine to thumb through

. . . you get the idea!

Substitute the urge for a healthier behavior, prepared in advance:

  • Eat clear soups or a large salad before each meal
  • When you eat a few nuts 15 minutes prior to a meal, you will eat less in that meal
  • Have healthy foods readily available to you at all times.  Munch on unsalted nuts, carrots, cukes, celery, turkey, broccoli, boiled egg, string cheese, even a couple of Healthy Chocolates™ a day

Retrain your brain for a CHANGE:

  • Intelligently MANAGE the urge by changing the associations you have with food
  • A food diary will help keep track of associations you have with certain foods and behaviors. In addition to listing foods, also chart your mood, activities, etc.  to help you discover your associations between ‘food thoughts’ and ‘food urges’
  • Changing our associations may seem difficult, but altering our behavior is actually easier than we imagine. Seven things to do right now that can put change into motion:
    • Never eat standing up
    • Never eat out of a container.  Put it onto the plate or into a bowl
    • Use a small salad plate, not dinner plate
    • Use your non-dominant hand when you eat
    • Never eat in your office.  Always eat at the dining room table (or other designated eating place).  This eating place is the only place that has a strong association with food.  Also you will have fewer ants (and pounds)!
    • Make eating a sole-focus activity and give it your full concentration. Put down your gaming, step away from the computer, get off the telephone, and just concentrate on eating.  The more you disassociate food with other activities, the more likely you are to not allow outside cues to dictate where and when and how much you eat
    • Eat at the same place, with same utensils, sitting down each time. This decreases  extraneous eating associations that can sabotage our efforts

One of the most distressing aspects of ‘uncontrolled urges’ is that as we succumb to them.  We have a sense that we are not in control, making us stressed.  With each change in behavior (and change in urge levels), we gain a sense of increased CONTROL over our lives. . . and that is a good feeling, isn’t it?

What are some nifty ways YOU control undesired urges?  Please click on the “Leave a Comment” link next to the date at the top of the blog under the headline. I’d love to hear from you!

By Dailey Grainger, PhD, ARNP, founder and CEO of Next Health Now, a Nurse Practitioner in the forefront of helping make America healthier.

Habits to consider breaking

Going to the grocery store when hungry Vs Only grocery shopping after a meal or high protein shake
Skipping breakfast Vs Plan the night before what you will have for breakfast, even prepare it (cut up fruit,  freeze fruit to put into a protein shake in portioned bags, etc.
Letting yourself get too hungry Vs Eat at least every 4 hours during the day.  Add protein to each meal or snack
Going more than 4 hours without eating Vs Have healthy snacks, nuts,  veggies, dark chocolates,  fruit available and with you at all times
Eating most of your food in the evening Vs Try to have most of your calories before 5 pm, starting with a breakfast that has approximately 30-40% of your daily calories
Forgetting to drink all your water Vs Fill large containers of the specific amount you plan to drink each day, and drink until gone
Eating too much at a meal Vs Fill plates in the kitchen with the desired amount of food, and do not put  extra food onto the table (either in the pot or serving dishes)
Grabbing high calorie food from refrigerator Vs Put high protein, low fat/calorie foods in clear containers at front for easy access.  If there are “forbidden foods”, put them in the back of the refrigerator in opaque containers
Having tempting food around Vs Just don’t buy it.  Clean out your pantry seriously
Enjoying  baking Vs Continue to bake…find healthy  recipes on the internet, magazines, friends
Not walking enough Vs Just put on your walking shoes/clothes, and put one foot in front of the other
Eating while watching TV, gaming, using phone Vs No food in eyesight of TV, (ever thought of how the invention of the TV table has contributed to obesity?), hang up the phone, turn off computer when eating.  Eat only in your designated eating place, sitting down to eat and savor food.
Getting so tired that you will eat anything Vs Avoid the fatigue in the first place by eating every 4 hours, drinking adequate water, and keeping your blood sugar high enough for you to think and function.  Also, try lying down only 5 minutes every hour or two.  It rejuvenates
Eating when you are anxious, tired, bored Vs Close eyes, meditate, deep breaths, until you are calm.  Then do something far more interesting than eating

What is the hardest habit you ever broke?  What helped you make this change? Please click on the “Leave a Comment” link next to the date at the top of the blog under the headline. I’d love to hear from you!

By Dailey Grainger, PhD, ARNP, founder and CEO of Next Health Now, a Nurse Practitioner in the forefront of helping make America healthier.

Write it down BEFORE you eat it

Brains are habitual organs, and those habits that you want to ADD (and undesired habits you wish to alter) can be increased/minimized if you “fool” your brain into thinking it is hardly changing, AT ALL.  Somewhere between the 12th and the 20th time that you do a new behavior CONSISTENTLY and PERSISTENTLY, it becomes a natural habit. Each time you replace an undesired behavior with a desired one, the undesired habit weakens.  But until the brain “recognizes” that this is a new habit, it tries to retain the old pattern. Gently train your brain to do write a listwhat YOU want it to do.

Write down what you eat BEFORE you eat it.  This uses a different part of your brain…to decide what to eat prior to eating.

  • Visualize the food in your mind. (Closing your eyes and focusing inwardly on what you have decided you are going to eat)
  • Decide just how much you are going to eat.
  • Write down the food, amount and, if desired, the approximate calorie count, amount of sodium, saturated fats, etc., or any other ingredient-item of interest to you.
  • Then slowly eat your food, savoring every bite or swallow. Don’t put the next bite into your mouth until you have completely chewed, swallowed and ENJOYED the last one.  Yes . . . this DOES take a while!
  • This applies to everything that passes your lips (munching while deciding what to eat, nibbling while you are cooking, licking that spoon ALL count as FOOD TO BE RECORDED!).

Research shows that people who write down what they eat prior to eating it, lose twice the amount of weight as people who don’t write down their food.

Using a different part of our brains in decision-making increases the inner resources we have….that inner ability to be more in control of our behavior.  You can feel good about making these very small changes that will help you reach your goals.

After awhile, you will notice that you are NATURALLY eating more MINDFULLY, slower, and actually ENJOYING your food more.  You will also notice that you will remember to pick up that pencil PRIOR to eating.  I remember long ago that I wrote down 2 chocolate chip cookies, and as soon as I saw that, I was vaguely repulsed, and marked through the “2” and wrote “1” instead.  Just seeing that I had made a healthier choice helped me remember that incident…enough to share it a decade later with you.

Have you ever kept an Eating Diary?  How did it work for you? Please click on the “Leave a Comment” link next to the date at the top of the blog under the headline. I’d love to hear from you!

By Dailey Grainger, PhD, ARNP, founder and CEO of Next Health Now, a Nurse Practitioner in the forefront of helping make America healthier.




What are single-ingredient foods?

fruits and veggies single ingredient foods

If it came from the earth, or if it had a mother, it is probably a single-ingredient food.

There are almost no processed foods that are single-ingredient foods.

Processed foods, with their engineered ratio of fats, salt, and sugar, have been shown to light up the addictive centers in our brains.  We literally become addicted to certain processed foods, leading to overeating and obesity.

Additionally, processed foods with their unpronounceable ingredients, potential toxic ingredients or substances that are known to be injurious, are creating a science experiment of our eating.

What can we do to help assure that the food we eat is GOOD for us (not harmful)?


  • If it looks like its name, it is probably a single-ingredient food
    • A steak is a steak
    • A broccoli is a broccoli
    • A pineapple is nothing more than a pineapple
  • Read the label. How many ingredients are there?
    • Guacamole might have avocado, tomato and salt. This could be considered a single-ingredient food because of the simple combination of whole foods, and the limited number of ingredients, each being a natural, single ingredient
    • But, if guacamole had soybean oil as its first ingredient, several other fillers and chemicals, with guacamole seasoning, it certainly would not qualify!
  • It doesn’t HAVE a label!
    • Fresh produce seldom has labels. There are no ingredients other than the food
  • If it came from the earth or had a mother, it most likely is a single-ingredient food
  • There are thousands of single-ingredient foods
  • Single-ingredient foods do not have additives, preservatives, fillers, dyes and colors, flavorings, unpronounceable chemicals,
    • If a “single ingredient food” has additives, it has now lost its position as a single ingredient food.
    • When you eat a single-ingredient food, you basically KNOW what you are eating

When preparing food, it is permissible to combine several single ingredient foods.

  • Make your own tomato sauce by combining fresh tomatoes, olive oil, onions, peppers, garlic and some red wine. . . all made with single ingredient foods.
  • Take a skillet, spoon of macadamia oil (one of the best healthy oils for cooking), slice fresh, organic mushrooms, and saute.  Set them aside and using the same skillet, saute fresh onions.  Then incorporate some of the above in an omelet with feta cheese, herbs, etc.  Single ingredient breakfast . . . most delicious.
    • No, putting bacon into the omelet means adding pork, nitrites, etc….as bacon isn’t a single-ingredient food.
    • Substitute processed meats (to be avoided particularly) with veggies is always a healthy move!

By Dailey Grainger, PhD, ARNP, founder and CEO of Next Health Now, a Nurse Practitioner in the forefront of helping make America healthier.

Protect yourself and your family against “optional” gastric illness

Poison upsets our stomachs . . .

No, I am not talking about food poisoning, but a more long-lasting poison that is brought about by emotional stress endured while eating. You know how it goes, you sit down face-to-face with family members at the dinner table, and the first thing that comes to mind is often a correction, a criticism or an actual put-down.  Each “downer statement” inevitably causes stress (probably in EVERY person at the table), and this comes at a vulnerable time when we are eating and beginning to digest our food.

Family meals should be a time for friendly chatter, sharing, laughing and enjoying each other. In families where the dinner table was a place of 2scolding, strife and punishment, children had a greatly increased tendency to develop gastrointestinal problems as an adult. All negativity (sometimes necessary, though) should be addressed AFTER a meal when everyone has adequate nutrition to their brains, are less reactive, and, therefore, more resilient. Preserve mealtimes as a time of peace, and a haven away from stress.  Also, when there is conflict during a meal, people tend to either overeat or refuse to eat (neither of which works!).

We know now that there is a correlation between stress, sodium retention, and inflammatory processes leading to chronic illnesses. When we are in control of the UNNECESSARY stress that might be injected into family meals, we can make the choice to no longer PAIR stress with eating. It sets up maladaptive habits, and it makes us (and our children) more vulnerable to chronic illnesses and diseases.

Do you remember, perhaps, as a child, dreading the dinner table because all “sins” would be laid out and addressed, taking second place to the healthy food that was served? Stop an old “family tradition” of misusing the dinner table.

Replace it with:

  • Healthy, single-ingredient foods
  • Laughter, jokes, recounting funny stories of the day
  • Intelligent conversations of interest to family members
  • Concern for the well-being of all at the table

Joe Kennedy made it a priority to provide stimulating, intelligent conversation at the nightly dinner table where Bobby and Jack Kennedy ate, even inviting diplomats and authors to the table to “educate” his children.

“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.”
~ Deepak Chopra

Dailey Grainger, PhD, ARNP, founder and CEO of Next Health Now, a Nurse Practitioner in the forefront of helping make America healthier.

To SLEEP…perchance to DREAM…

Grantsleeping-guy NHNed, the most important element for life of humans is the air we breathe. Next necessity is water. But it is a toss-up whether the third necessary element is food or sleep. I vote for SLEEP. We can go far longer (and remain sane) without food than we can without sleep. This decreasing segment of our days is responsible for a variety of ills.

Some more things we have recently learned about sleep are:

  1. Sleep deprivation is related to weight gain. Over a 5-night period at the University of Pennsylvania, the weights of participants of two groups were compared (sleep was limited to 4 hours a night in the sleep deprivation group compared with a sleeping group that remained in bed for 10 hours a night). The sleeping group actually lost weight, while the sleep deprived group gained weight.
  2. Lack of sleep increases the risk of:
    1. Daytime drowsiness, drowsy-driving and its consequence
    2. Psychiatric conditions, including depression and substance abuse
    3. Inattention, decreased ability to remember new information or react quickly to signals, that is, signals of all sorts
    4. Falls, injuries and even mortality
    5. People with “persistent insomnia” are 58% more likely to die of any cause than good sleepers
  3. Decreased sleep increases the risk of diabetes and heart problems.
  4. Going to bed later (not necessarily getting less sleep) is associated with more negative thinking. Researchers at Binghamton University found that individuals who go to bed very late have more negative thinking, and worry. These “night owl” worry warts may simply have delayed sleep onset because they are worrying, or interfering with normal circadian rhythms and could be the cause of the worry. You have probably noticed that problems seem much larger at nighttime than in the daytime.
  5. Diminished sleep is associated with cognitive decline in older years. Having disordered sleeping was equivalent to being 2 years older. A single sleepless night increases biomarkers for brain damage via killing of brain cells.
  6. Sleep actually clears neurotoxins from our brains. The rate of exchange between brain tissues and sleeping-woman NHNspinal fluid that gets rid of neurotoxic waste is enhanced during sleep (including neurotoxins associated with Alzheimer’s disease). Sleep serves this vital function, removing toxins that accumulate while we are awake.

So, if you stay up late, watch television and mindlessly munch on unhealthy foods, get less than 7 hours of sleep, you now know that you have chosen to:

So, if you stay up late, watch television and mindlessly munch on unhealthy foods, get less than 7 hours of sleep, you now know that you have chosen to:

  • Increase your probability of getting Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart disease
  • Gain weight (and unhealthy waist inches)
  • Prevent the metabolism of harmful brain neurotoxins
  • Be drowsy during the day
  • Increase the probability that you will become depressed
  • Be satisfied with a slower reaction time
  • Have more worry-time
  • Needlessly die sooner than later

Now you know the choices you are making.

Minimally, sleep affects everything from increasing one’s healthy immune system to a practical vista of skillful, flexible, creative activities in handling and shaping daily life. Most adults require at least seven hours of sleep for peak-performance, optimal health and well-being. Far from being a luxury, sleep is an absolute necessity for life and healthy living.

So, how about, TONIGHT, turn off the TV, computer, cellphone (any blue light) around 9 PM, go to bed around 11 PM, sleep at least 7 hours (8 is probably better), and simply see if you can make tomorrow a better day?

And…how about progress toward a safer, saner, slimmer, more comfortable, longer, and happier life?

An upcoming article will elaborate on some innovative activities we can do to sleep better.

Charles T. Knosleeping-baby NHNwles is a writer and filmmaker living in North Carolina.  He has designed and produced public presentations by a Presidential Candidate, Politicians, Journalists,  Authors, Musicians, and fellow Filmmakers. 

New Year’s Resolution: Eat more chocolate


 “Waist Management” for the Health of It

Size matters . . . and waist size matters MOST. . . when it comes to health and longevity.

Over the years, people have been obsessed with their weight…wanting to lose weight, unhappy when they gain weight, watching their weight

But, weight is only part of the equation and research is increasingly identifying waist measure (particularly in relation to one’s height) as one of the best measures of obesity, cardiovascular and stroke risk, diabetic vulnerability and a host of other obesity-related illnesses.  We’re doing o.k. if our waist measure is less than ½ our height!

So . . . what if we:

  • Stow the scale and get out the tape measure?
  • Stop counting calories and, instead, eat healthy, single ingredient, WHOLE foods?
  • Eat extremely high antioxidant foods to fight free radicals and promote health and longevity?
  • Learn the most up-to-date, evidence-based research findings on how to create a leaner self?
  • Choose simplicity, saving time and money, having an easy relationship with food, as well as with appetite suppression?
  • Enjoy chocolate every day?

This IS possible through our Waist Management with Chocolate Plan 

50 people lost ¾ ton in 12 weeks on the Healthy Chocolate™ Meal Replacement Shakes

NEXT HEALTH NOW (formerly Keys Healthy Chocolates) inaugurates our waist-reduction plan that promotes:

  • Simplicity – no  scales, counting calories, food logs, gym memberships, meetings, weigh-ins
  • Safety –  no dangerous drugs, surgery, doctor’s visits, hormone shots.  And, you are assured of getting plenty of antioxidants that you may not be getting in a normal diet
  • Eat more good food – eat protein every 3-4 hours, single ingredient, whole foods (aim for 80-90 % of the time), and you won’t be hungry because one of the chocolate benefits is appetite suppression
  • Ease and time savings –  reduce grocery shopping/cooking time and expense.  Product shipped directly to your door, that will save meal preparation time with meal replacement shakes that take about 2 minutes to prepare, not hours
  • High antioxidants – did you know that one of the chocolate benefits is that it is the highest antioxidant food known? 
  • Adequate water/sleep/exercise –  8 glasses, 8 hours, 30 minutes a day
  • Intelligent food choices – Remember!  Processed foods add extra sugars, salt, preservatives,  GMO’s, pesticides, synthetic ingredients, etc., almost assuring addiction to them and weight gain
  • Frequent BLOG postings on our site – stay up-to-date on the latest information related to eating healthy, living longer, having a better life
  • AND, Chocolate! –  2 meal replacement shakes, and high antioxidant chocolates to enjoy throughout the day
  • There is no easier, safer, more convenient and healthier way to lose those inches.  Many people notice the appetite suppression after the first shake.

AND . . . you get to eat CHOCOLATE!

You could be starting on this plan as early as next week.

Dailey Grainger, PhD, ARNP, founder and CEO of Next Health Now, a Nurse Practitioner in the forefront of helping make America healthier.