Debra Zellner, a psychologist at Montclair State University in New Jersey, offered three tips on how to avoid developing specific, intense cravings for sweet foods. (The tips are based on research in animals and humans and in addiction in general, she says.)
1. Don't habitually eat your favorite sweet at the same time of day, in the same mood, or in the same place. If you like Krispy Kremes, don't have one every morning with your coffee; don't confine your Ben & Jerry's sessions to your couch when you're upset. This only sets up a series of cues that will bring on a craving whenever you're in that situation.
2. It may sound paradoxical, but don't eat your favorite treat when you're hungry. Research shows that we're more likely to crave a food when we come to associate it with fulfilling hunger. So if you can't get enough Double Stufs, occasionally have a couple after a meal rather than using them as a 4:30 p.m. dinner-can't-come-soon-enough snack.
3. Don't make the object of your desire taboo. Forbidding yourself to have Nutella at all, or allowing it only on very special occasions, may make you more likely to binge when presented with an opportunity. "The worst thing you can do is say, 'There's a food we shouldn't eat,' " said Zellner. "Have them every now and then, and enjoy what you're eating."
What do you crave, and what do you do to beat your cravings?