If everyone craved broccoli, there wouldn’t be a problem. If you’re like most people, you have visions of cookies, chips, pizza and pastries dancing in your head. Cravings usually involve vivid images and thoughts of how delicious the food looks, and how good it tastes and smells. Usually those foods fall into the high sugar, high-fat or high-salt categories. Pass the maple-glazed bacon, anyone?
If you think your inability to control food cravings is all in your head, you’re right. Losing weight is about more than cutting calories—resisting food urges is important. And while successfully changing your behavior in response to a craving is a successful long-term tool, sometimes you need a quick fix you can turn to.
One way to counter cravings in a snap is with mental imagery, a technique that curbs the urge “here and now.” Simply focus on a non-food image you find appealing. It can be a rainbow or a beach, or your favorite golf course if golf is your passion. You can even carry photos in your wallet or load them into your cellphone so they’re always handy.
Another way to re-direct your attention is with an activity that requires hand-eye coordination, like doing a puzzle or playing a game on your smartphone or computer.
Finally, counter real-time aromas of food with another scent you like. Take a whiff of your favorite perfume or rub a drop of scented oil on your wrist. You can even carry a purse-sized vial with you.
While these techniques can’t stop food cravings from happening, they can diffuse them as they pop up, and you can use them anytime and anywhere.