Just wishing away those calorie-ridden treats won’t be enough to keep you from snacking on them. Here are five tried-and-tested mental tricks to help you lose weight and beat cravings.

Substitute junk with healthy, similar tasting choices

In the mood for ice-cream? Have a bowl of yoghurt with fruit, or a smoothie instead. Craving the crunch of potato chips? Try a handful of salted nuts. Finding a healthier alternative with some of the same qualities as the fatty food you’ve got a craving for is a good way to avoid binging on junk. With time, your brain and palate will learn to like these healthier options.

Think about a treat, but don’t eat it

Picturing a chocolate bar, or bowl of gulab jamun makes it more likely you’ll want less of it when you actually start eating, says research. The trick lies in thinking about eating the food as opposed to merely visualizing it.

“I can eat anything”

The most difficult part of going on a diet is bidding farewell to your favourite calorie-ridden foods. Most people give up before starting merely at the thought of suffering hunger pangs or deprivation. The key is to tell yourself you can eat what you want, but not everything you want. Treat yourself to one or two splurges in the week, but stay on track at all other times.

Eat it all, but control the portion

Snacking isn’t bad, when it’s the right kind of food and done in moderation. But many dieters tend to eat too much. Trick your mind into eating less by portioning your snacks in small dabbas. This can help you feel as if you’re eating ‘all’ of something, which satisfies your brain. Ideally, divide all the snacks, healthy and otherwise, into small portion sizes as soon as you bring groceries home so you’re not tempted to munch out of the large bag.

Find a distraction

Be prepared for when cravings strike with a list of alternative activities that can distract you enough to maintain your dietary resolve. Whether it’s taking a walk, making a phone call or watching some TV, pick something you enjoy. Your cravings will disappear when you focus your mind on something else.

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Written by Roshini Gilbert

Roshini Gilbert

After a diligent workout plan helped her lose 30kg of post-pregnancy weight, chartered accountant Roshini Gilbert was inspired enough to go from tallying numbers to training others. A freelance personal trainer today, Roshini has been certified by the American Council on Exercises (ACE) for functional fitness and specialises in post-natal weight loss, exercises for low back pain, arthritis and osteoporosis. She also has REHAB Trainer certification from Australia for rehabilitative exercises and has trained with reputed sports physiotherapist Ulrik Larsen in corrective exercises and injury management. In HealthifyMe, Roshini has found a collaborator with a common cause – making people fit to live life to the fullest. Her assessment of how fit you are is based on three broad guidelines — stamina, body age (a person who looks way older than his age can’t be deemed healthy) and lifestyle (beware, those with bad eating habits and sedentary behaviour). Prepare yourself mentally first and then your body will follow, she says, of the opinion that if you want to change something about yourself then you need to challenge yourself to do it. Are you up for it?

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