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How to Fight Harmful Food Temptations

How to Fight Harmful Food Temptations

Take charge of your unhealthy cravings with this foolproof strategy.

The temptations you face from added fats and sweets in your everyday life affect the way you do the things you do in a not so positive way.

Anyone who’s struggled to shed pounds or overcome diet-related health issues knows temptations are everywhere.

  • In the grocery store check-out line, you’re surrounded by processed, added-sugar health bombs. (In England they tested eliminating such foods from the check-out aisles and found a 76 percent reduction in “grab and eat” purchases of snacky foods!)
  • TV and the Internet bombard you with ads for snacks, sweets and treats. In 2012, fast-food restaurants spent $4.6 billion on all advertising and Happy Meal display ads increased 63 percent to 31 million ads monthly.
  • Social media is relentless too. In 2012, six billion fast-food ads appeared on Facebook alone!

To embrace healthy eating habits, you need a plan to deal with the temptations you face every day. (You can get detailed help with temptations in Dr. Mike’s new book, What to Eat When.)

First, let’s clear away the biggest myth that may be keeping you from making progress.

Willpower alone won’t cut it. No matter how determined, chances are you can’t endlessly tough it out. It’s only natural to crave sugar when you’re tired and to feel captivated by the enticing look or smell of some calorie- and sugar-packed treat. You need a strategy, not an iron will, to resist temptations.

Now, let’s build your strategy for success, which will help you dodge the temptations you encounter.

#1 Take charge of your surroundings. If there’s always junk food at work, make sure you have healthful snacks on hand. Pack baggies with trail mix, nuts, veggie slices, even one-ounce chunks of 70 percent dark chocolate. Stash them in your bag, drawers, pockets. Make ’em handy!

#2 Do a pantry/shelf sweep. If you have treacherous temptations on your kitchen shelves, banish them. And if your spouse or partner insists on keeping them in the house, sequester them somewhere you can avoid seeing them (the temptations, not your spouse!). Out of sight, out of mind.

#3 Avoid “hunger panic.” If you’ve got a busy day with no time for meals, are on the road a lot, or headed into new territory, prepare and pack up lunch, snacks, beverages and even dinner, if needed. Then you won’t have to opt for a brain-killing drive-thru or grab a sugar bomb just to keep going. And you can stick to the When Way plan!

#4 Talk to your friends and family about your goal. Enlist an AT (avoid temptations) buddy—a friend, coworker or family member who also wants to eliminate food temptations. You can work together by exchanging daily reports on how you’re doing, sharing healthful snacks at work or home, even preparing healthful foods together as co-chefs.

#5 Build in rewards. Everyone deserves a healthful treat! Slow roast strawberries and almonds and stir into nonfat Greek yogurt. Drizzle melted 70 percent cacao dark chocolate over orange slices. Puree mangoes, pineapple or papayas and freeze the juicy goodness for an icy dessert.

#6 Forgive if you forget. This is one of the most important principals of the When Way: Don’t beat yourself up for back-sliding. So, you gobbled some fries. Try next time to avoid them—choose an apple instead. And if you do give in to your temptations, make an effort to limit your intake. As Dr. Oz says, “It’s not the first two bites that will do you in; it’s the fourteenth and fifteenth!”

We hope you’re tempted to give this When Way plan a try!

Medically reviewed in December 2018.

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