4 Easy Ways to Beat Chocolate Cravings

When it comes to foods that can quickly dissolve your willpower and make a calorie counter spin, one sweet treat rules them all: Decadent, wonderful, glorious chocolate.

It’s not all bad news since research indicates chocolate can have positive health effects, like boosting your mood and brain power.

But it also comes packed with fat and sugar that can derail your diet. So if you’re just about to reach for that 250 calorie chocolate bar, try one of these tips:

1. Take a 15 minute walk

A new study led by researchers at the University of Innsbruck in Austria found just 15 minutes of exercise can keep you from indulging.

The test involved 47 people, described as “overweight, sugary snack consumers.” Each person was used to eating at least 3.5 ounces of chocolate or other sweets every day, so they were asked to avoid any treats for three days before the experiment to heighten their cravings.

Some then took a brisk 15-minute walk on a treadmill, while others sat quietly for 15 minutes. Afterwards, the researchers tried to heighten their chocolate cravings even more. Both groups took a mental test designed to boost their level of stress, which often makes people turn to high-calorie food.

Both groups also were presented with a delicious selection of sweets, with the instructions to unwrap one snack of their choice and handle it for 30 seconds, but not actually eat it.

It turned out the participants who took the brisk 15-minute walk had lower cravings for treats than those who stayed inactive. And even though stress and the simple act of being around sweets can trigger our desire to eat, the exercise also seemed to counteract those urges.

The results are based on questionnaires measuring the participants’ cravings for sugary snacks at various stages of the experiment and other data.

“These cravings come on us quickly and if we can distract ourselves, they often go away within 15 minutes. That’s why this study, and the duration of the walk, makes sense. It’s all about swapping out an activity,” said TODAY health and nutrition editor Madelyn Fernstrom.

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