Anyone trying to lose weight knows that avoiding your favorite food temptations is one of the hardest parts of sticking to a healthy diet. Whether you love desserts, chips or biscuits and gravy, learning to navigate around your biggest diet pitfalls will help you make the leap from simply dieting to actually living a healthy lifestyle.
Learning to combat cravings also doesn’t mean you have to go without the foods you love. Consistency is the foundation of any fitness or nutrition program. Taking the time to create temptation fighting strategies for yourself and sticking to your routine will help you avoid the repeated overindulgences that hamper your weight loss. Let’s look at some tried and true ways to tame the hungry beast within!
Identify Your Cravings and Triggers
Food journaling can help you identify not only your most prominent cravings, but also the types of events or times of day that tend to be triggers for you. Track everything you eat for at least two weeks and look for patterns, such as your typical late night foods or snacks that you reach for during the afternoon when you’re sleepy. Food tracking apps like MyFitnessPal make journaling your food fast and simple.
Once you start noticing triggers, learn to slow down and identify them as they are occurring. If you run for the carbs or sweets when you’re feeling particularly stressed, plan ahead when you know that stressful events are coming up. Do you overeat when you’re bored or watching TV? Keep fruits and vegetables available for healthy snack options or do a task that keeps your hands busy when you’re feeling bored. Are you drinking enough water? Your body just might be saying you are dehydrated instead of being hungry. Just getting your mind off your temptation for as little as five minutes can dull the desire enough to move past it without giving in.
Avoid What You Can
Once you’ve determined that you can’t control your sweets consumption after arguments, or that you really can’t have chips in your house without being tempted to eat the whole bag in a single sitting, it’s usually best to just remove the temptation altogether. Don’t buy or bring home food that you have trouble eating in moderation.
Talk to your roommates, family or spouse for help with this. If you lose it around Oreos, it’s better if your family knows that and helps you avoid them. It doesn’t mean your diet should dictate what everyone else eats, but your loved ones can help you achieve your goals by limiting the types or quantities of particularly tempting foods that they bring into the house (or hide them!). Better yet, try to adopt healthier eating habits as a couple or as a family.
Plan Ahead for Special Events
Client lunch or dinner meetings, weddings, parties and other social functions are temptation hotspots for most people, especially when alcohol is involved. Planning ahead for these events will help you avoid the day-after guilt that comes along with overindulging. Look up the restaurant’s menu ahead of time if possible, identifying the best food choice for yourself so you’re prepared. For weddings, make sure to get in a longer workout earlier in the day if you know you’ll be drinking more than a couple glasses of wine.
Thinking through your event strategy before you get there can strengthen your resolve. It’s also best to avoid going to a party on an empty stomach, as you’re more likely to chow down on fatty appetizers if you’re already famished.
Allow a healthy cheat meal once a week to stay sane. No one likes feeling deprived, so if you establish a bunch of ‘off-limits’ foods for yourself, they’re eventually going to be all the more tempting. Avoid that by allowing yourself the foods you want in a healthy and reasonable way.
Try to keep your cheat meal on the same day each week, so that you have an established routine as well as something rewarding to anticipate. Weekends are tough for most people, so having a cheat meal on a Saturday afternoon or evening can be helpful. Just make sure that you don’t go crazy for this meal and try to make healthy adaptations when possible. If you’re craving pancakes for example, make delicious protein pancakes to indulge your sweet tooth in a better way. Here’s my favorite recipe:
1 cup uncooked oats
1/2 cup salt-free (or reduced sodium) cottage cheese
2 scoops protein powder
2 whole eggs
4 egg whites
1. Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
2. Bring a pan to medium heat.
3. Spray the pan with non-stick spray or use 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil.
4. Using a large spoon, pour batter into pan making 3- 4 small pancakes.
5. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes.
6. Repeat and cook the rest until you run out of batter. Enjoy!
Temptations don’t have to derail your weight loss. You can overcome them without feeling deprived! Check out my nutrition resources for more healthy recipes to satisfy your cravings without blowing your diet.