Sometimes chocolate seems to speak. It whispers at first, calling to you from the pantry, trying to coax you to come break another piece off of the bar. If you try to ignore it, chocolate can be even more insistent, until it’s all you can think about and you find yourself standing in front of the pantry polishing off the entire bar as fast as you can chew. Or maybe that’s just me.
Here are some great ways to break a craving:
Consider these tried and true techniques. What works for one might not work for another, so make your way through the list before you give up and give in.
Wait—didn’t we just suggest that you try everything else before you give in? Yes, but as anyone who has ever eaten her way through an apple and a handful of baby carrots and a bowl of oatmeal only to finally eat the chocolate anyways knows, there are times when nothing else will do but what you’re craving. So go there with the intention of having just a little. This is best in situations when your portion is already limited (aka, the bag is nearly empty or the cake is almost gone).
Chew a piece of gum.
Another great way to break a craving is to put a piece of gum in your mouth. This cleanses your palate and keeps your mouth busy. If you get into the habit of chewing a piece of gum after a meal, it will become an unconscious signal that it’s time to stop eating.
Have a cup of coffee or tea.
In the same way that chewing gum works, a cup of coffee or tea can help you break a craving by signaling that it’s time to stop eating. If your weakness is dessert after every meal, this can take the place of a treat. A hot drink can slow you down and become a pleasant ritual.
Drink a glass of water.
You might not be craving a snack. You might just be thirsty. Even if this isn’t the case, you could probably use another glass of water anyway.
Phone a friend.
Getting on Facebook or Twitter is way too conducive to indulgence. The only consequence is a messy keyboard. Actually call a friend and speak with him or her; you’ll be a little embarrassed about talking with your mouth full. At least you should be.
A surefire way to break a craving is to get to the gym. You can’t plow through a bag of Tostitos while you’re lifting or running. Working out is likely to inspire you to make better food choices. And if nothing else, it might postpone your snack until you can make it a part of a healthy meal.
Get rid of temptation.
If none of these ways to break a craving is very successful for you, then you may need to eliminate that which you crave. Willpower is an ever-changing thing; it can be weaker when you’re stressed, tired, anxious or sick. Even if you can resist the siren song of those peanut M&M’s most days, one flat tire and one sick kid could make them irresistible. And after you’ve indulged, you’re likely to feel even worse. Don’t keep temptation around the house. You can go out and get a treat if it’ll really make you feel better, but finish it and go home.
You can also break a craving before it starts. If you keep a food journal, note whether certain times of day, certain activities or certain emotions prompt you to dive into the microwavable mac and cheese. Make a plan for those times with one of the above suggestions, change up your routine, or make sure that you’re well-nourished in those situations, so that you put away less of your comfort food.
Some suggest that the best way to break a craving is to go cold turkey, and that may be true. But it doesn’t allow for settings such as birthday parties, office potlucks and other celebrations or social scenes, and falling off the wagon might be far worse than trying to steer it down the path of sensibility.
You are stronger than your temptations—at least most of the time. Have confidence that you can get through a craving or minimize the damage and move on. As the saying goes, “Moderation in all things.” Find your balance…and maybe lose the chocolate!