A Cheat Sheet for Cheating
August 5, 2014

For insight into why we crave high-calorie treats and the best ways to trick your hunger, we spoke to clinical psychologist Belisa Vranich, Gold's Gym Fitness Institute member and author of Get a Grip: Your Two-Week Mental Makeover.

#1 Go for the crunch: The more you chew, the more your mind thinks you're eating. "Fast food is very soft. So you don't have to really chew it, and you have to eat more of it to feel satisfied," she says. "If you eat something that takes a lot of jaw-chomping, like carrots, you'll feel more full."

#2 Eat strong
 Small bites of a flavorful food stimulate your taste buds, which send messages to your brain that you are eating. A food like blue cheese works. It has a strong taste and interesting texture, and you just need a bite or two.

#3 Indulge early
 One rule of thumb is to eat guilt-inducing foods before 3 p.m., she explains. Then you have time to walk it off or go to the gym. The worst thing to do is to eat a big meal right before going to sleep, when you'll be expending less energy.

#4 Get past the plateau
 People often get frustrated when their diet plan flatlines, and start cheating more often. Set a new challenge or try a new routine. Take a kickboxing class, or get a trainer. A break from the ordinary can banish the boredom and keep you from turning to food.

#5 Watch the sodium
 Salt can suck your body dry of water, and your stomach interprets thirst as hunger. One quick indicator of hydration is your urine. "It should be light yellow. If it's darker, try drinking more water and cutting back on foods high in sodium."

#6 Plan ahead
 "The people who eat well and stay thin map out their meals ahead of time. The more thought you put into what you're eating, the better off you are." That might mean packing your lunch to make sure you don't eat on the run, or stocking your desk with your healthy treats.

#7 Don't ignore depression
 "Many people eat foods high in simple carbs for comfort because they're depressed. They give you a sugar spike that makes you temporarily happy." If you consistently overindulge to feel fulfilled, think about seeing a mental health professional.