Thank you Paleo Diet Lifestyle (http://paleodietlifestyle.com/) folks for emailing me this one. No link to the article, so copied and pasted text. This is great if you are going through the Whole 30 or just making a few food changes in your life.
“Psychological tips to help you stay on track.
We’ve all been there. Standing in front of the pastry case, asking ourselves, “do I really want this cream-filled handmade donut I’ve been craving for a week and can’t stop having incredibly vivid dreams about?”
Yes. Yes, you do. But you also know you shouldn’t actually eat it. This sets you up for a head-on struggle of desire vs. willpower – never a good position to be in, since willpower isn’t nearly as strong as most of us like to think.
Instead of heading down this road, avoid the conflict by rephrasing your question. Instead of asking “do I want this?” (desire vs. willpower), ask yourself…
- Do I want a stomachache? (or whatever the consequences of eating the food will be). Put the negative consequences in the foreground. Don’t ask “is this worth a stomachache?” – make it even more clear-cut than that. “Do I want a stomachache?” No. OK then. Fork down; walk away.
- Do I want to break my streak? Chains and patterns are a powerful motivational tool. Just the thought of breaking a however-many day streak of healthy eating can be enough to deter you from even the most tempting junk food. Keep a visual reminder handy of how many days you have under your belt, and challenge yourself not to break it.
- Would I like a non-food treat? Sometimes, you just need some pleasure in your day. It’s not about the food; it’s about the emotional gratification of doing something nice for yourself. What about a new magazine, a bottle of nail polish, an interesting box of tea, or a CD? A fun novel, a mug, or a desk toy? Distract yourself by thinking about something else you want, and then go get it; that way, your desire and your willpower are both working in the same direction, away from the junk food.
- How do I feel right now, and why? Are you lonely? Tired? Frustrated? Afraid? All of these emotions are unpleasant to feel; sometimes, we crave junk food as a distraction. Give yourself 10 minutes in a place away from food to write about the feeling, or just sit there and allow yourself to feel it. What can you do to address the real problem? This can be uncomfortable, but you cannot fix the real problem by trying to ignore it.
- Will this food help me reach my ________ goals? (fill in the blank with “athletic performance,” “weight loss,” or whatever your goals are). The psychological power of goals is hard to overstate. Don’t ask yourself what you want in the moment; ask yourself what you want for your whole life, and how you can get there.
Asking questions like these is just one tool in your arsenal for defeating junk food cravings. For even more tips and tricks, check out the full article on surviving a rough spot: what to do when the going gets tough, and why.