According to researchers at Flinders University in Australia, just thinking about a tempting treat - like an ooey, gooey chocolate sundae - can push you to eat it. In fact, your mind is so good at creating tempting visuals, you can even experience taste, smell and physical cravings. So, if cravings are ruling your life, try these tricks:
- First go ahead and eat what you love, in moderation. Studies show that cravings often have nothing to do with hunger. They're simply the result of dietary restrictions. So, don't declare any foods off-limit. Instead, keep portions reasonable. Remember: an occasional piece of pizza won't pack on the pounds. But banning the pizza altogether can make you obsess until you just have to order an extra-large "pizza for one."
- Engage your brain. Studies show that playing games lights up the same part of your brain that thinks about eating. And the distraction literally takes your mind off food. So, grab your computer or cell phone, and play a couple rounds of Bejeweled or solitaire. And you'll kill your cravings.
- Sniff the right smells. Researchers found that aromas like pine or eucalyptus can interrupt your desire to snack. Why? Since the "taste" of food is 80 to 90% smell, a pungent non-food aroma can sidetrack your brain. And pine and eucalyptus are refreshing fragrances, which stimulate thoughts of being light and healthy, and boost your willpower.
- Indulge! If visions of chocolate bars dance in your head, savor one mini chocolate bar, and take as long as possible to smell it, taste it, and eat it. Why? Because having a tiny bit of what tempts you - and spreading it out - will keep you from flinging yourself at the nearest candy counter.