How can I handle temptation when trying to lose weight?

Rose Reisman
Nutrition & Dietetics
Here are some of the temptations you have to face on an ongoing basis and what you can do to fend them off.
  • Nighttime Eating: This is my greatest weakness. The pattern of eating "perfectly" all day, and often too little, can lead to late-night eating, usually of the "wrong" foods. Also, late-night eating usually happens when you're standing by the fridge or pantry, which makes it easier to consume many more calories than if you put something on your plate. The solution is to fuel yourself better during the day. I like to eat two thirds of my daily calories before dinner. I believe that since you're not usually active late in the evening, you don't burn calories as efficiently.

    Nutrition professionals have different opinions on late-night eating. Some believe that it doesn't matter what time of day you consume your calories -- it's all about the total amount in the end. I do believe that a calorie is a calorie no matter what time you eat, but the late-night eater usually consumes more "empty" calories than people who eat most of their calories during the day. When people determine when they should stop eating, their daily calorie count will decrease, leading to more efficient weight loss.
  • Fast Food: You're starving, and there's nothing in sight but fast food restaurants. What are you going to do? Keep moderation and balance in the forefront when making your choices. But eating fast food regularly can lead to weight gain. Every fast food establishment has healthier alternatives -- you have to be selective. I often eat in fast food restaurants when I'm travelling. I enjoy a grilled chicken breast on half a bun, with a salad, dressing on the side, along with either water or a diet drink. Some restaurants even have baked potatoes and stock-based soups.
  • Trigger Foods: Certain foods will entice you to binge. Maybe it's chocolate, cheese, bread or ice cream. So when you're watching your weight, you decide to avoid these foods. But eventually you long so much for these foods that once you begin to eat them you can't stop. The "forbidden foods" strategy never works. Deprivation always results in failure. Instead, allow yourself the "forbidden fruit" occasionally, in moderation. Try the "80-20" rule. Be consistent 80% of the time and allow yourself to be somewhat indulgent 20% of the time.
Rose Reisman's Secrets for Permanent Weight Loss: With 150 Delicious and Healthy Recipes for Success

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Rose Reisman's Secrets for Permanent Weight Loss: With 150 Delicious and Healthy Recipes for Success

For the journey toward healthier living. Losing weight can be a constant and frustrating struggle. Rose Reisman's Permanent Weight Loss Solutions creates a blueprint for lifelong weight control that...
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.