Fitness

Curb your cravings

Forever giving in to junk food? Here’s how to get your snacking under control

Chatelaine

It’s 2 p.m., and the vending machine down the hall is calling your name. Before you know it, you’re licking barbeque-chip dust off your lips, and you’ve sabotaged your lose-10-pounds resolution again. But don’t blame yourself: it’s not willpower you’re lacking, say the experts, it’s a plan. The next time an insatiable urge for chips, chocolate or cheesecake hits, try one of these top tactics to crush your craving.

Fake out Your Tastebuds
Hankering for something sweet, salty or just plain bad? Tame the urge by brushing your teeth, chewing sugarless gum or sucking on a long-lasting mint, says Lettie Kurucz, from Mississauga, Ont., who has lost 65 pounds with the support of a weight-loss coach. Still craving? Distract yourself by phoning a friend, taking a short walk or running an errand.

Make it a Game
Toss the loonie you would have spend on chips or chocolate into a cup each time you successfully fight off a craving, then buy yourself a treat with the proceeds. “I was amazed at how much junk food I would have put into my body,” says Kurucz, “and how much money I was wasting.”

Dig Deeper
Many people reach for the wrong foods for comfort, stress release or reward. But eating doesn’t solve emotional issues. Think yoga, says Kurucz, and take 10 deep, slow and meditative breaths concentrating on breathing not food. If the craving is still there, drink a glass of water. The water fills up your stomach, but it also tops up your fluids if you are dehydrated, says Patricia Chuey, a B.C.-based registered dietitian. “Sometimes a desire to eat is simply thirst in disguise.”

Beware the Night
It is easy to find your hands deep in a bag of cookies at the end of a hectic workday since you often notice your body’s hunger signals only once you slow down, says Chuey. Heading off a post-work feeding frenzy requires no special techniques or tricks. She says, “Get organized, and eat regular, healthy meals and snacks throughout the day.”

Give in, sometimes
Your good intentions may backfire if you always avoid your favourite foods. Instead, aim to eat well at least 80 percent of the time, leaving yourself room for occasional treats, says Chuey.