Everywhere you look there are temptations. We encounter them when we walk into our kitchen, when we walk from one end of our office to another, and especially at the grocery store. Foods that contain excess sugars, fats and salts release dopamine, a hormone that lights up the reward center in our brain and tells our bodies that we want more of the bad-for-you foods. No wonder we only crave more when we snack on these types of foods.
Now, knowing that is one thing, but actually withholding from eating these tempting items is another. Luckily, here are 6 tips to help avoid empty calorie treats altogether.
Be in tune with your emotions. Are you stressed out because you have a looming deadline at work? Are you upset because you had a terrible fight with your significant other? Pinpoint what you’re actually feeling, and you may be able to better control your instinct to reach for the chips. Remember, knowing is half the battle — the battle of the bulge!
Avoid buying the bad foods altogether. If you know that as soon as you bring that bag of cookies into your house, you’ll binge on them, leave them on the shelf at the grocery store. If you don’t have them in your house, you won’t eat them. And in turn, you’ll reach for that chopped-up broccoli you cut over the weekend.
Make a healthier version of your favorite unhealthy food. Try making some of your favorite foods in a healthier way. For example, make onions rings or chicken tenders by dunking them in egg whites, use Panko breadcrumbs, then bake them. You’ll be surprised how delicious the healthy options are, and how well they curb cravings. Some of our favorite comfort foods turned healthy are Pizza Chicken Tenders and Cauliflower Pizza.
Eat the foods you crave at the middle of your meal. According to this article on CNN Health, if you’re craving chocolate and you place it at the beginning of your meal, your brain will associate the chocolate with being satiated. If you put it at the end, then you think of it as the last delicious thing you ate. Instead, placing it in the center of your meal allows your brain to think mainly of the healthy foods you started and ended with.
Carry healthy foods with you everywhere. When you are hungry on the go, it is all too easy to run to the nearest fast food drive-thru and get a burger. By stashing healthy, go-to snacks in your purse or car you’ll have less need to roll through a drive-thru. Ditch the french fries, and throw a plastic baggy filled with grapes in your bag.
Keep your candy wrappers. If you have a sweet tooth and your favorite mid-day snack is a fun-sized Snickers bar, hang onto the wrapper and place them in a jar in front of you. Every time you eat one, throw that wrapper in the jar and not the garbage. Doing this will place the evidence of what you’re eating right in front of you, making you more aware and less likely to binge.
Staying focused on eating right can be a struggle, but armed with the right tips and with just the right amount of willpower, you can accomplish anything. Remind yourself that although your guilty pleasure satisfies you in the moment, it is just that; a guilt factor. You always regret an unhealthy choice, but never do you feel bad about a healthy one.