Week one: Swap out salt. Salt is one of the worst craving offenders. It plays tricks on your taste buds, raises blood pressure and generally triggers cravings for unhealthy, sodium-rich foods. Instead of using salt as a seasoning, try any of these other kinds of seasonings as a healthier alternative: black pepper, basil, cilantro, curry, ginger, oregano, paprika, rosemary, sage or turmeric.
Week two: Pair "booster" snacks with "pitfall" snacks. Pitfall snacks are the kinds of foods you can’t get enough of, like chips and chocolate; everyone's pitfalls are different, so be sure to focus on the foods that make you go overboard. To help wean your brain off of these addictive foods, make sure to have a booster food handy to pair with something you love. This will begin the association between the two and help make the booster food more palatable. If you start doing this just twice a day, by alternating bites of your pitfall snacks with booster foods, your brain will start to crave the healthy booster foods, too. My recommended booster foods are: quinoa, soba noodles, barley, brown rice, steel-cut oats, chicken, turkey, trout, buffalo, navy beans, Greek yogurt, almond milk, low-fat goat's milk, 1% milk, low-fat cottage cheese, broccoli, mushrooms, figs, grapes and kiwis.
Week three: Replace three pitfall foods with three booster foods. Kick the swapping up a notch by moving from snacks to full meals. If you replace pitfall foods, like fried chicken or thick cream sauces, with booster foods, like grilled chicken and sauteed broccoli, your body will become even more used to the booster foods as you work toward eliminating pitfall foods entirely. Try to replace at least one pitfall meal and two pitfall snacks a day.
Week four: Eat all booster meals. This might be the hardest week, as you’ll replace all your meals with booster meals. You can still indulge in one or two pitfall snacks a day, but chances are the first three weeks of training won’t have you craving the same unhealthy foods you used to love.