12 Mental Tricks to Beat Cravings and Lose Weight
Mind over matter
Using pure willpower to overcome cravings doesn't always work. (If it did, dieting would be easy and we'd all be at our own healthy, feel-great weights.) Guess what? You don't have to tough out an unrelenting yen to house a box of Cheez-Its, you just need to fool yourself into thinking you didn't actually want to eat the junk food in the first place. It's easier than you think; here are tips from experts and recent studies to help you stay on track.
Visualize an internal pause button
The next time you want to reach for a big bowl of Chunky Monkey, picture yourself hitting a pause button in your brain. "If someone were to ask to borrow a lot of money, most people can stop and say, 'I'll think about it,'" says Coral Arvon, PhD, director of behavioral health and wellness at Pritikin Longevity in Miami, FL. But when that chocolate cake or bottle of wine is in front of us at the end of day, the majority of us don't hesitate to indulge. "Think 'pause,' and consider your decision for 10 minutes before making an actual decision," Arvon suggests.
Watch the video: 6 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Eating Less
Substitute junk food with healthy foods that resemble junk food
Find a healthy alternative that shares some of the same qualities as the fatty food you've got a craving for, says Jonathan Alpert, a New York City-based psychotherapist and author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. Craving the crunch and salt of potato chips? Make a batch of satisfyingly crispy kale chips. Eyeing the carton of ice cream in your freezer? Whip up a fruit-packed smoothie bowl instead. "Over time your taste buds and brain will adjust and learn to like these healthier options," says Alpert.
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Imagine yourself eating
Thinking about eating a bag of candy makes it more likely you'll eat less of it when you actually start eating it, according to a 2010 study by Carnegie Mellon University researchers. Study participants who visualized eating 30 M&Ms before indulging in a bowl of the candies ate fewer M&Ms than two other groups who imagined eating only three candies or no treats at all. Researchers say the key lies in thinking about eating the food versus merely thinking about or visualizing it.
Tell yourself you can have anything
When you think about going on a diet, hunger pangs, deprivation, and waving goodbye to your favorite foods probably come to mind. Problem is, denying yourself your favorite foods immediately sets you up for failure, says Amy Goodson, RD, sports dietitian for the Dallas Cowboys and co-author of Swim, Bike, Run, Eat: The Complete Guide to Fueling Your Triathlon. "You want to make changes you can do for the rest of your life. The key is to eat what you want, but not everything you want," says Goodson. "You can still enjoy one to two splurges during the week as long as you stay on track the rest of the time."
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Go back in time
Cut back on calories by learning to snack like a preschooler, says Goodson. "Many people get in trouble with snacking because they eat too much. So trick your mind into eating less by portioning your snacks in small baggies. This helps you feel as if you're eating 'all' of something, which satisfies your brain." Ideally, break out portion sizes of chips, snacks, and other goodies as soon as you bring them home from the store so you're not tempted to dip your hand in the entire 10-serving container. To further avoid temptation, keep the portioned snacks out of sight hidden in a cupboard.
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Use the "apple trick"
The next time you're standing in front of the refrigerator trying to figure out what you're craving, maybe you're not really hungry, says Goodson. Here's how to figure out if you're genuinely hungry or just trying to satisfy a craving. "When you crave a salty or sweet treat, ask yourself if you'd eat an apple," says Goodson. "If the answer is yes, you're hungry and it's okay to have a small snack. If not, drink some water, because you're not really hungry." Since thirst often masquerades as hunger, drinking a glass of water should silence your craving.
Watch the video: 4 Tricks to Eat Healthier
Plan your junk food
Create a top 10 list of distractions
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Fool your eye
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Train your resistance muscle
Set your phone to send you motivational messages
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Stay clear of TV while eating
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