It starts with just one single chocolate bar, or a nice vanilla smoothie with some whipped cream on the top, or maybe something seemingly harmless, like a slice of pizza…
Then another one, and another one, and before you know it, your diet is gone, and you’re back sitting in front of a TV, eating chips and washing it down with a gallon of soda.
We all know the story, but how do we prevent it from happening, right?
There are some practices that work surprisingly well for me and I’d like to share them with you.
Who am I to give this sort of advice? To be honest, I was never on a diet to lose weight. But I was on several to gain weight. And not just any kind of weight … lean muscle, which is the toughest kind of weight to gain.
The temptations remain the same … chocolate, processed food, too many desserts, fast foods, high-sugar sodas, and so on.
Step #1: Acknowledgment & acceptance
You have to start by acknowledging your temptations and understanding that they will come to you every now and then. There’s just no way to eliminate them off completely. Sometimes you just don’t feel like eating in a certain way.
The more you think about something, the more apparent it becomes in your life. No matter if you’re thinking about bringing that something in your life (like money, for example), or erasing it from your life completely (like, in this case, temptations).
No matter what we do, we cannot force ourselves to not think about something. If you don’t believe me, just do the following experiment:
Right now, try to not think about a pink elephant.
So what’s the result? Did you manage to NOT think about a pink elephant?
The task here is to learn how to not feel bad when your dietary temptations come to you. It’s nothing bad to crave a chocolate bar every now and then, or even every other hour.
So instead of feeling bad, yet having the chocolate bar anyway, consider doing different things.
Step #2: Set a day off
This will depend on your diet, but I honestly think that every diet that doesn’t allow one day off in a week is simply detached from reality. In a perfect world, everyone would be able to change their eating habits just like that and stick with a given diet 365 days a year, but in the real world this is not likely possible.
You need a day off, so you don’t go nuts.
Besides, if your diet can be ruined just by one day of eating whatever you want then it’s probably not a very good diet after all…
And if you think that you don’t need a day off, that you can make it without it, then treat your diet as a permanent thing. What I mean is don’t treat it like something temporary (like something you have to do for two months and then you can go back to your previous style of eating). Treat it like it’s here to stay!
Do you still think that you can be on your diet for one year straight, or two years straight, without a day off every week?
The rules of your day off are simple. Eat whatever you wish. Period.
Step #3: Create a to-eat list
Our food cravings can be brutal. There are times when we want something so badly that it literally keeps us anxious for the whole day. And the true disaster comes if our diet doesn’t permit us to eat this something no matter what. It only makes you want to eat the thing even more.
But since you already have a day off set then you can simply take out your to-eat list and put the thing you’re craving there. That way you can be sure that you won’t forget about it when the right time comes.
In most cases, this simple trick is enough to make the craving go away. I, personally, was really amazed at how effective having a simple to-eat list can be.
Step #4: Understand and substitute
If you’re still fighting hard to resist temptation, you can do one final thing.
As it turns out (and I’m not the one who came up with this because I’m not that smart) we don’t really crave what we think we do. It’s just our brain telling us that it demands some specific foods, when in fact what it really needs are individual nutrients that can be delivered through healthy foods as well.
For instance, when you’re craving chocolate, what you actually need is magnesium, which is also present in raw nuts and seeds, legumes, and fruits.
Bread and toast is about nitrogen. Also present in high protein foods like fish, meat, nuts, and beans.
Sodas and other sugar-heavy drinks are about calcium. Also present in mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, and sesame.
As I said, I’m not the genius behind this, so I urge you to go here (food cravings) to get the complete list.
Step #5: Remember the ultimate truth
And the ultimate truth, for me, is simply this:
Nothing tastes better than looking good feels.
This phrase alone should give you the additional motivation you need. For me, it’s been one of the most effective things keeping me from snacking and quitting my current diet.
What’s your opinion on this process? Do you have some clever steps of your own on how to fight unhealthy food cravings and temptations?