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How can I handle temptation when trying to lose weight?

At some point you’ll undoubtedly confront the urge to regress into old ways. Dieters plead for “just a bite” and those favored comfort foods. But you can resist temptations.

Research and experience have converged on 10 methods.
  1. Take a breather. Take a few deep breaths, slowly inhaling and exhaling. Slow down your physical cravings and your runaway thinking. Relaxation will get you through a surprising number of temptations.
  2. Knock it off. Interrupt the thought process and vigorously challenge it. When you whine, “I neeeeeeed it!,” dispute that nonsense. When my patients try to convince me that they are helpless, I ask, “Could you have resisted for a thousand dollars?” Ninety-nine percent of the time, they reply, “Of course.” Set your mind straight. 
  3. Say “Yes, I can.” Remind yourself in no uncertain terms that you have resisted successfully many times before. Affirm your resilience. 
  4. Walk it away. The research shows that a brisk walk reduces cravings. For others, a slower, walking meditation works.
  5. Do the healthy opposite of over-eating. Instead of vegetating on the couch, get up and get active; instead of eating those cheese puffs, prepare tasty vegetables. Be sure that your healthy opposites are ones that you genuinely enjoy. 
  6. Talk yourself down. Ask a friend or family member to talk you down. They can speak with you for a few moments and support you.
  7. Distract yourself silly. Find a distracting activity that fully engages both your hands and your mind. Good distraction might be a puzzle, video game, work out, make a call, scrub a floor, anything that will take up the 5 minutes that those temptations persist.
  8. Run away! Should your urge become overwhelming, leave the vicinity of the temptation and combine it with one or more of the aforementioned methods.
  9. Reward yourself. When you’re confronted with a craving, reinforce yourself for keeping on track. Strengthen your resolve by rewarding perseverance.  
  10. Search your self. Your temptation may prompt the realization that you need to revisit your emotional reasons for the weight problem in the first place -- why were you consumed by the desire, what emotional gratification was it serving. Emotionally, what is not resolved is repeated. Remind yourself of the reason for your goal. Use both sides of the motivation: the push away from the disgusting behavior and the pull toward a brighter future. That’s the key, ultimately, to your emotional freedom.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.