Here are 14 Mental Tricks to Deal With Food Temptations

Author: Lisa Becker

July 28th, 2018 9 min read

Last Updated: August 12th, 2018

Here are 14 Mental Tricks to Deal With Food Temptations

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Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. —John R. Wooden

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I think we've all been there before: improving your eating habits is difficult. Everything was going fine with our weight loss program and we seemed to be confident along the way---when suddenly food cravings is snapping at us right in the face. So what do you do when your temptations rise to extremely higher levels from watching others around you, or depending on the situation you're in? Relax. While it's never easy to resist temptation (I think we can all agree on that!), you can use these 11 ways to deal with food cravings to your benefit when it happens next time.

If there was one thing you would learn by the end of this article, it would be to be ready! By having a plan (or a readied script for what to say) you can develop smart, healthy choices in practically every situation that life tosses at you.

We’re going to share a few other ways to help you win the battle of wills the next time you face temptations:

You’re Having Drinks With Co-Workers

Soda, fruit juices and other mixers can pack up on the calories in cocktails; store-bought margarita mix and a margarita with 1.5oz of tequila contains a whopping upward of 500 calories. The thing is, it's alcohol itself that turns all the fun into devastating fat. Not only does it contain 90 calories an ounce, it also inhibits your body's ability to process fats and lowers your resolve.

The answer then, is to raise a toast to Joe in Accounting's promotion when you hit the bar, have a lower-calorie cocktail that doubles easily for a soft drink, and then alternately swap between the two, says dietician Somer, author of Eat Your Way to Happiness.

For example, a vodka and tonic has only 180 calories and no one will be the wiser when you make your second round an equally bubbly and transparent zero-calorie diet Sprite, dressed up with a twist.

Read: You Should Only Weigh Yourself At This Time In The Day

Long Term Gains

Is the enjoyment you would gain from eating one donut worth missing out on the accomplishment of reaching your weight loss goals? Granted, in the heat of the moment it might seem worth it.

But if you take a mental step back from the craving and remember how badly you want to feel the joy of being slender and healthy - suddenly the benefits the donut offers seem shallow and fleeting in comparison. So if you have any friends that are wondering how to stop food cravings, lend them this friendly reminder.

A Date Brings You To A Hot Restaurant

When you're dining casually (like a Denny's), you can save yourself from packing unnecessary calories by skipping sauces or having them on the side, as a way to swap out a fat fest in place for a square meal.

Nowadays many restaurants have items on their menu that offer low-cal meals. However, a meal in a top-flight restaurant is mostly about special preparations made by a chef who is closer towards an artist than a cook and the sauces with them.

As an alternative you can order less food and feel confident that the intense flavors will end up satisfying you. Choose appetizers as your entree and share them--after all, it's always more romantic to share flavors to opposite directions wink. Also sample the salads or broth-based soups. And if you absolutely must have dessert, then share that too, and order the one containing the most fruit.

Related: Lost Your Momentum? 18 Tips You Need To Get You Back On Losing Weight Again

Your Family Forces Food On You When You Go Home

Food is love, and when Mamma tells you ‘mangia’ and you don’t, she acts like you’re rejecting her, not her pot roast. The answer: Have some of everything pushed at you during the holidays or a weekend visit home, but only a spoonful. That means your plate will be more of a tasting sampler than a full meal.

Remember: Just one bite of a dish, preceded by a loud ‘I can’t resist!’ will do your parents good and won’t kill you.

Another strategy: make yourself useful serving people and cleaning up. It gets you away from your plate, but still makes you a vital part of the meal. Most of all, ‘focus on what’s important,’ says Somer. ‘You’re there to visit with your loved ones, not to pig out.’ If you can transfer your emotions from the food to those around you, you’ll live a long and happy life.

Read: These Cabbage Benefits Are Perfect For Weight Loss

The REAL Deprivation

Wanting a gooey goody and not allowing yourself to have it triggers a strong sensation of deprivation - but if you do give in to the craving, what are you REALLY depriving yourself of? Success? A feeling of pride about your appearance? Those slender, slinky, sexy clothes that you’ve been dying to wear? A longer life? Better quality of life? Is a donut really worth that?

Once you get into the habit of seeing food cravings in a different light, suddenly it doesn’t seem so hard to overcome as well as stop food cravings and stay focused on what you REALLY want - that beautiful, healthy, strong body.

You Really Need Beer

Whether in a pickup truck, at the beach, or in your workshop, a nice chilly, frosty bottle of beer is often exactly what the situation calls for. So go ahead and have one!

The most refreshing, easy-to-drink beers are the highly carbonated, lower alcohol ‘lite’ brews. Pabst makes an Extra Light Low Alcohol beer with only 67 calories, but even a good ol’ Miller Lite comes in under 100 calories. As a rule the darker the beer, the more calories, so if your yen is for craft-beer flavor, stick to the trendy new wheat and white (‘weiss’) beers and avoid higher alcohol ales, even so-called ‘pale’ ones.

You Have Only A Few Minutes To Grab A Meal

Don’t assume a fast-food drive-thru is an automatic no-no. True, a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese clocks in at 740 calories, more than half of them from fat. But the big boys have begun to grasp that customers want some reasonable options: ‘395 calorie meal for $3.95’ read one sign outside a fast food franchise recently, and Taco Bell brags of its Fresco menu, including a 160-calorie grilled steak soft taco wrap with just 4.5 grams of fat.

At McDonald’s you can get away with a salad, even one with meat, as long as you ‘avoid anything with the word ‘crispy’,’ says Somer. Just as important, choose a no-fat dressing. Also remember: no burgers bearing mayo-heavy sauces; skip the french fries; and low-fat milk or water rather than soda.

Read: This is How Much Water You Need to Drink for Weight Loss

Your Friend Wants You To Meet At Starbucks

In diet circles, Starbucks has come to be regarded as the evil empire. It’s not just ‘all that caramel goo’ in those ventis, which turn a cup of coffee into an ultrasweet high-calorie dessert, says New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle. ‘Their stores are set up to make it convenient and entertaining to choose larger portions and more foods.’ Treats — like the 410-calorie lemon poppy loaf — are sumptuously displayed in eye-level glass cases, while the more wholesome chow languishes below. Look down.

Starbucks now offers sensible snacks like fruit rollups and paninis that swap out chili spread for mayo, but they’re going to make you find it.

As for drinks, begin any order with the word ‘Skinny’ and you can cut the calorie count by up to a third. The best choices: a steaming 16-ounce grande Pike’s Roast black coffee, 5 calories or a grande Tazo Full Leaf Tea, 0 calories.

Related: Weight Loss Tips To Keep In Mind

Your Lover Surprises You With Chocolates

First, a quick lesson in love: your lover doesn’t bring chocolate in hopes of watching you eat. Before surrendering to the temptation of what’s in the box, unwrap your lover. A concerted half-hour of sex can chew up 85 calories, and the longer you linger, the higher that number. Then feel free to enjoy a single piece of chocolate — a Godiva truffle tucks a lot of sweetness into 105 calories. (Meanwhile, a memo to chocolate-buying lovers: consider a 1-ounce chocolate liqueur, which boils down to about 100 calories, none of them from fat.) If you limit yourself to one chocolate a day as a snack, you’ll be fine.

Minimize the Intensity

The only reason cravings are so strong is because you create tension in yourself by saying, “I want that but I can’t have it.” Not being able to have something only makes you want it more!

Instead, see the donut (or whatever is tempting you) for what it really is. “It’s just a blob of flour, sugar and fat. Yes, it smells good, yes, it would probably taste good, and if I really want to eat it, I can. But do I really want to?”

You’d be surprised how well this approach works - it knocks that smug donut right off its pedestal and minimizes the intensity of the craving.

You’re Shopping And You're Dying Of Hunger

Shopping marathons are like any other kind: you need constant, small boosts of energy to keep going. And keeping going is key. Avoid settling in at the food court; pick up a hot pretzel, a small bag of roasted nuts from a kiosk, even a chicken taco, and nibble on the move. Portable meals, of course, can still seriously weigh you down.

At Aunt Annie’s Pretzels, a pepperoni pizza pretzel twists together 480 calories with 8 grams of saturated fat. The original pretzel is no bargain at 310 calories without the butter sauce. But with less than a gram of saturated fat and 2 grams of fiber, it’s a good choice, particularly if you eat it in small amounts over time.

Related: 15 Healthy Weight Loss Habits

You’re Dashing For An Early Morning Plane

The best place for breakfast in an airport may be…Starbucks. A venti latte with soy milk or skim is 9 ounces of milk, a helpful shot of caffeine and just 170 calories, note Heather Bauer and Kathy Matthews in The Wall Street Diet, which provides tips for people too busy to plan healthy meals.

Add a banana and a yogurt to get your day started for less than 400 calories and in under ten minutes (depending on how many other frequent flyers have missed breakfast at home and are lined up in front of you).

The Only Food At The Picnic Are Hamburgers and Hot Dogs

Most barbecues leave dieters trapped in the great outdoors. Meat grilled over a fire does tend to be less fatty than pan-cooked, but most grillers still depend on fatty burgers and dogs to feed the masses, while the traditional sides like potato salad and slaw are filled with high-calorie mayonnaise. Worst of all, you can’t get away from the deliciously wafting smoke. Go ahead and smell the burgers, but eat the hot dog.

A dog on a bun with a smear of ketchup will set you back about 250 calories. That’s as many as the burger has in fat alone. Load up your plate with the low-calorie burger fixin’s, like lettuce, tomato and onions, to round out your meal.

Related: Studies Suggest Freezing Hunger Signals Might Be Useful For Weight Loss

It's 3:30PM and You're Hungry

The energy drop that hits in afternoon is likely a combination of perfectly natural factors: the result of a light lunch, mild dehydration, a momentary lack of iron, or a crash off that coffee you had at the late-morning meeting. Before wandering to the cafeteria or fridge, start your recovery with a tall glass of water, which boosts your blood flow and, as a side benefit, makes you feel full. Ideal snacks for clearing your cobwebby head are hummus or almonds, but if your only option is an office vending machine, look for any hint of protein — those orange crackers with peanut butter, at 200 calories, are better than a sugary cookie. Wash it down with a cup of coffee doused in iron-rich cinnamon.

Related: Emotional Eating And Its Effects For Weight Loss

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