Mind Over Munchies


Try these tweaks to just say “no!” to creamy, sugary, mouthwatering morsels.

Turn off triggers.  Break patterns that encourage binges. Are you a postwork snacker? Come home through a door that doesn’t lead to the kitchen and you’ll be 18 percent less likely to graze, per unpublished research by Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of Mindless Eating (Bantam).

Ride the crave.  When the urge to splurge hits you, don’t ignore it. Tell yourself that the feeling may pass in 10 minutes. Focus on your breathing, taking in your surroundings. Are you eating out of sadness or frustration? If so, address your feelings and let your yen naturally diminish. If your stomach’s still growling, have something nutritious. Have a large glass of water and wait, or a hot beverage like tea.

Feed your hunger.   Going past hungry to ravenous might make you choose junk. Mice injected with high doses of ghrelin preferred a room where they had previously found high-fat food over one where they expected to find less fat and sugar, a study in Biological Psychology reports. Eat protein and fiber at every meal to keep ghrelin gremlins at bay. Also eat off a smaller plate to make it look like more!!!

Pace yourself.  It takes 12 minutes for a thin person’s brain to register that she’s eaten, but it may take 25 minutes in an overweight person, says Mark Gold, M.D., chairman of the department of psychiatry at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville. A heavy person’s brain changes its priorities over time to favor eating-related sensations. Set a timer to get used to making a meal last 25 minutes.

Tire your taste buds.  Your taste buds get worn out after a few bites, so each mouthful is less delicious than the last. Employ the technique of a wine connoisseur when you sink your teeth into your culinary crush; relish every bit and stop when the flavor falters.

Flip the script.  Banish negative self-talk: “I ate two Oreos. I’m weak and I’ve blown my diet. I might as well keep going.” Instead, take stock and talk yourself up: “So I ate a couple of cookies. It’s no big deal. It won’t make me fat. I can stop now and feel good about myself.”

Start small.  Self-control is a limited resource, so if you try to tackle your morning doughnut, afternoon chips and evening ice cream in one swoop, you’ll be sunk. Allot willpower to one behavior at a time. When a day without doughnuts becomes the norm, move on to the next goal.