If you feel tempted, STOP!
STOP is an acronym for a four-step process that you can use to good benefit.
S-Stop! Visualize a stop sign and hear the word "stop." Immediately stop whatever it is you're doing.
T-Take a deep, cleansing breath. This creates a window of opportunity during which you can recognize and assess the temptation you're faced with, and take appropriate action.
O-Observe your situation, yourself, and and your options. Analyze what's going on. How are you feeling? What do you want? What do you need? In your observation, use the HALT analysis. Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? That's because we often react automatically, sometimes inappropriately to these stimuli. Of these, only true hunger is a good reason to eat. If there's something else playing into your temptation, then eating is not the correct response, plain and simple.
P-Plan your correct action. You've got choices, so what are they? What's really important to you? What actions will help you move toward what matters, toward an appropriate response, and away from the temptation and reactionary eating.
Go ahead and let yourself hear whatever voices inside you are suggesting that you abandon or sabotage your healthy intentions, and pause long enough to acknowledge and respond to those voices. A good response might be, "Thanks for sharing, now move along."
Then shift the focus away from food by doing something else: sit quietly for five minutes and let your attention rest on your breathing; phone a friend; review a list of your motivations for getting healthy (you have made that list by now, haven't you?) or take a walk.
And encourage yourself as you would a friend or loved one. We're often too willing to let ourselves fail without offering the support we would give to even a casual pal. Remember that sometimes, if you're not hearing what you need to hear, it might be because you're not saying it yourself.
The more often you use the STOP method to manage cravings, the more easily and effectively you'll be able to resist temptations and overcome your body's natural tendency to push you back to your setpoint.
But the more frequently you do it successfully, the easier it becomes, just as with anything else that takes practice. After a while you get good at it, and it just becomes a habit. A good habit.
THROUGH THICK & THIN: Your Setpoint
STOP is a good little mental tool for confronting temptation and cravings. The acronym stands for Stop what you're doing, Take a breath and a moment to Observe what's really getting to you, and Plan your next right move, because once you've assessed the situation, eating usually isn't it! It's a nifty and effective little tool, but it's only helpful if you actually use it.