Use your mental muscle to win the battle of the bulge. When that bag of cookies or kettle corn is calling your name, it may seem harder to resist than Justin Bieber -- if you're 15, that is. If not, next time you're tempted to snack on some sublime high-calorie mix of salt, sugar, and fat, try these mind-over-matter tricks. They'll give you the power to say, "No way."
Remember what you had for lunch. Exactly what you had. Don't just say, "Oh, I got a sandwich." Reconstruct every detail, down to the "extra mayo."When people are asked to describe the most recent meal they had, they eat less of a munchy snack.
Can't remember? Write it down. Here's what a food journal could do for you.
- Eat a raisin. That's right, a single raisin. It's a savor-the-moment practice. Take a deep, relaxing breath, pick up the raisin, smell it. Put it in your mouth and roll it around on your tongue. Feel its wrinkles. Now slowly eat it. Note the chewy, gritty texture, the sweet taste. Extract all the flavor you can before swallowing. Researchers have found this kind of mindful eating curbs chronic binging. Besides, it would take you all day to eat a box of raisins this way!
- Don't clean up the remains. Whether it's wing bones on your plate, candy wrappers on your desk, or an empty cookie box on your kitchen counter, seeing how much you've just eaten keeps you from eating more. A study in a sports bar found that people ate less, especially the guys, when servers let the bones pile up on their plates than when they were frequently cleared away.
Buy big bags of candy, not minipacks. Treats in small packages can trick you into overindulging. In one study, people saw the smaller portions as "healthier" and ate more of them, not less! Also if you're really trying hard to eat smart, you're less likely to open the large bag in the first place.
Watch this to learn the basics of portion control.
- Don't be distracted. You're more likely to eat a whole bag of chips while you're checking out Facebook or reading about the latest sex scandal. The distraction turns off your appetite-control mechanism, so your palate doesn't get as jaded as it normally would by the 15th chip or chocolate-covered peanut. Researchers call this sensory-specific satiety. To keep it from happening to you, don't eat in front of the computer, TV, or your Kindle.
What's your secret mental weapon against cravings?
Get more health tips from RealAge:
- Learn what's putting more candles than you deserve on your birthday cake. Take the RealAge Test.
- Give your skin a checkup and find out how to keep it clear, smooth, and young.
- Extend your natural warranty with this 2-week plan.
- Test your brain with this quick mind game.
- Clear the stress from your day with one of these breathing exercises.