This Might Be the Easiest Trick Ever to Beat Food Cravings


David Titlow for Marie Claire

Cravings involve a visceral feeling—you can’t explain them or justify them, yet you feel them with every fibre of your being. When you crave something—whether it’s a doughnut, a smoothie, or Nicholas Hoult—everything else falls by the wayside. Nothing else matters until you satisfy your desire. In the case of food, this can often be problematic, considering we usually tend to crave things that aren’t necessarily good for us. (In the case of Nicholas Hoult—well, that’s probably not going to happen either. Sorry.)

Which is why you’ll be pleased to know that new scientific evidence has emerged that suggests beating your food cravings is actually incredibly easy. According to this study released in January, the key to taming your desires is simply envisioning yourself fulfilling them… later. That’s right—the secret to banishing your midday chocolate craving is just telling yourself you can have it in a few hours. The two researchers found that unspecified postponement (telling yourself “some other time”) actually reduced the immediate desire for the selected temptation. The multiphase experiment found that this method was much more effective that practicing restraint (“some other time” vs. “never”), reducing consumption of the temptation in the heat of the moment and even up to one week after.

As someone who craves sweet things around the 2 p.m. mark every day, I decided to give this method a go. When my craving for chocolate kicked in right on cue, I closed my eyes and told myself I could have the heart-shaped chocolate (curse you, whoever sent it to me—also, love you) on my desk later as an after-work treat. It took a while to convince myself of this, and my colleagues may have assumed I had fallen asleep at my desk (rightly so), but after a few minutes (ok, seconds) of concentrated visualising, I was able to resist the temptation and finish up the task at hand.

Turns out I completely forgot about the chocolate until after I had already left work. I’m not quite sure if this is how the experiment works—just tell yourself you’ll have it later, and then you won’t have it because you forgot!—but either way, I succeeded in avoiding the tempting sweet morsel. Though I have to admit, now that I’m writing about it, I’m suddenly reminded of the temptation. Looks like I have more work to do…

Give this trick a try, and tell me—did it work for you? Sound off in the comments below.