We’ve all been there – faced with the irresistible allure of sugary, fatty, and unhealthy junk food. It happens when we’re hungry, and it happens when we’re emotional.
Why do we choose these less nutritious options over healthier ones, especially when we know we should be choosing healthier options?
Simple: they make us feel good.
The pleasure we get from junk food, often driven by the dopamine rush it provides, keeps us coming back for more. So, how can we regain control over our cravings?
The surprising answer might just be procrastination.
When we talk about procrastination here, we mean postponing. Research indicates that instead of telling ourselves, “I shouldn’t eat that cake,” we’re better off saying, “I’ll have a piece of cake next time I’m here” without specifying when.
This approach can lead to two outcomes: either we consume no cake at all, or we eat less when we eventually give in.
Why does this work?
When we explicitly deny ourselves something, our brains take note of the forbidden item. Our minds become hypersensitive, constantly scanning our environment for that particular thing (or anything similar) we’re trying to avoid.
When we actively try to avoid all junk food, it feels like junk food is everywhere, even more than before!
An Ambiguous Future
By procrastinating indulgence, we avoid this mental trap and increase our chances of resisting temptation. The key is to postpone it to an unspecified future date.
Studies show that setting a specific deadline for a behavior can actually make us more likely to engage in it. For example, saying, “I will work out tonight at 7pm” can be helpful for fostering positive habits like exercise. But when it comes to dodging extra calories, it’s the vagueness of the uncertain future that makes the reward (like the dopamine rush from junk food) less enticing.
Postponing to an ambiguous future date helps us fend off immediate cravings and boosts self-control. It creates a mental space where we’re less fixated on the indulgence, making it easier to make healthier choices in the long run.
The next time you’re tempted by that irresistible piece of cake or bag of chips, remember the power of procrastination. Instead of saying “I can’t have it,” tell yourself, “I’ll have it next time.” By doing so, you’ll find that your cravings become less insistent, and you’ll be better equipped to make healthier choices when the time is right.
P.S. When you’re ready to beat your cravings for good, lose unwanted fat, and do so without restricting your favorite foods, click the button below to book your free weight loss strategy call with an A-Team Coach.