If you’re trying to lose weight, discipline is one of the most important muscles to strengthen. Learning to say “no” to your favorite treats is key to dropping pounds, but sometimes your best intentions backfire and you just can’t resist treating yourself with a huge bowl of ice cream with all the fixings. It happens to the best of us.
But what if finding a happy medium could help? Researchers found that rather than battling yes versus no, if dieters told themselves “I can have it later,” they ate less of the forbidden fruit when they did indulge.
Researchers tested the theory by setting bowls of candy in front of three groups of men and women and telling them they could eat the candies at will, not at all or sometime later while they watched a video clip. Afterward they were told they could have as much candy as they wanted. Those barred from snacking ate the most, while those allowed to munch whenever they wanted ate about half as much. The group that postponed snacking ate even less than the free-for-all snackers.
The key is not to set a definite time, like 3 p.m. — rather, choose a vague time in the future. Scientists believe this strategy lets the mind cool off from intensely debating whether to indulge. It also sets a happy medium — you don’t have to feel guilty and you don’t have to feel deprived.
Want to add some more arsenal to your anti-cravings toolbox? Beware of visual cues and smells, like the ones that bombard you as you walk by the bakery. Count to 10 and try to distract yourself with another activity. Eat less of what you crave, and mentally prepare yourself for when cravings strike.
Staying a step ahead of your cravings can keep your waist in line. So next time the mood for munchies strikes, just put it off and treat yourself to a portion-controlled treat later.