How to Keep Your Food Cravings at Bay While You Lose Weight


Tom RafalovichFrom Health magazine

Nothing truly worth achieving in life comes easy, right? Even with a solid plan like AJ Cook, who freely admits to longing for the sweet treat.

Just follow this expert weight-loss advice, and you (and AJ) will be able to catapult over any food yen.

We started doing night shoots this month, and it became nearly impossible to find time for structured meals between takes. So, when I got tired, it was difficult to stay away from all the baked goods—the exact things I crave when I want to feel better—that were available on the set. To control my cravings, I really had to make an effort to have healthy options like almonds, apples, and hummus with carrots on hand at all times.”

Youre always hungry
The solution: Reassess things. “If youre eating enough calories, you may be labeling yourself as hungry when youre actually just experiencing a desire to eat,” dream team psych expert Judith Beck, PhD, says. “When youre truly hungry, your stomach feels empty.” Otherwise, something else—like boredom or thirst—may be spurring your desire to nosh.

One trick to try: Have a large glass of water or seltzer with lemon and wait 10 minutes. Not only will the drink give you the sensation of being fuller, but itll take care of the problem if youve been mistaking thirst for hunger. If that doesnt work, try engaging your mind elsewhere. Call a friend, take a walk, polish your nails, or surf the Web.

Next Page: Craving conundrum #2

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You desperately miss your nightly ice cream.
The solution: Have some! The trick isnt to stop indulging—its to learn how to do it right. “If you put it off limits, the craving will only get worse,” Dr. Beck says. “Youll eventually give in and probably eat way more than you should.” Whether its ice cream, a brownie, or, yep, a piece of red velvet cake, have a little every night as your evening snack.

Better yet: Stock up on portion-control treats, such as ice cream cups, mini-chocolate bars, etc. This not only helps you stay on track but teaches you to estimate portion size when your splurge doesnt come individually packaged. “You cant eat whatever you want, in whatever quantity you want, whenever you want—if you did, you would, of course, gain weight,” Dr. Beck says. But you can knock back a 150-or-so-calorie portion of something once a day and not wreck your diet.

You never, ever crave good-for-you foods.
The solution: Make these “healthy” foods so yummy that your brain thinks theyre treats. “There are so many tasty low-cal foods out there now. If you can forget theyre good for you and focus on the taste, youll realize that youre not giving up anything by making healthier choices,” says dream team dietitian Alyse Levine. Get creative, too: Sprinkle low-fat key lime pie yogurt with a few crushed vanilla wafers and, voila, its key lime pie instead of just yogurt. “Or try a quick substitute for something high-fat, like a mini cheesecake sandwich made with part-skim ricotta cheese and raspberry jam between graham crackers,” Levine says.

You sometimes want a cocktail—but, oh, the calories!
The solution: “Your best bet is a white wine spritzer: half wine, half club soda,” Levine says. Other options include a glass of wine, a light beer, or any kind of spirit mixed with a noncaloric liquid (like vodka with seltzer). Then, chase each drink with an equal amount of water or seltzer, so you drink less overall. One final tip: Be sure to slide that bowl of mixed nuts down the bar, far out of reach.