iStock_000013912225SmallLet’s face it, it’s easy to derail your diet by indulging in that deliciously decadent chocolate cake or binging on a whole bag of potato chips, especially after a stressful day. Here are some tricks for kicking junk food to the curb and avoiding choices that will only leave you disappointed and frustrated.

1. Drink Water

It should come as no surprise that water is number one on this list. Pour yourself an ice cold glass of refreshing water when you feel a craving coming on or you’re looking to the pantry out of boredom. Drinking a glass of water is a quick reality check to figure out if you’re actually hungry. Sometimes we feel hungry when in fact we’re really just dehydrated, bored or stressed. Warning: Healthy looking, glowing skin is often a side affect of staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water. Score!

2. Make a Plan

Take 15 minutes each Sunday to plan for the following week. What foods you will eat for each meal? What will your go-to snack options be? When you will work out? Knowing what is ahead for the day and week will allow you to stay focused and avoid making poor impulse decisions when you’re hungry. Remember to keep in mind the days you will be out of the house for longer periods of time so you can snack smart even on the go!

3. Shop Once (and never when you’re hungry!)

The more times you visit the grocery store, the more likely you are to toss that box of sugary cereal or bag of potato chips into the cart. Since you’ve planned for your week in advance, shop accordingly just once and then stick to it!

4. Chew Gum

In between meals, pop a minty piece of gum. Mint flavor staves off cravings and chewing gum has been shown to improve memory and oral health, reduce stress symptoms and aids in weight management. Just be sure to pick a sugar-free variety!

5. Sleep

Getting enough sleep is critical to weight loss. Metabolism is directly related to clocking in a healthy amount of sleep–not to mention your ability to make healthy choices. While it may be next to impossible for you to get the full recommended eight hours each night, making an effort to get an extra hour or two will go a long way. So turn off the TV and catch some extra ZZZs. Your body and mind will thank you.

6. Focus on Work

When you’re bored, it’s easy to head into the kitchen. Instead, make better use of your time that will leave you (and your waistline) happier. Create a list of hobbies, do-it-yourself projects or to-dos that you can turn to when the boredom cravings kick in. Pinterest is a great go-to for project inspiration and ideas. Read, write, finish that home project or tackle that errand list to get your mind off of the food you don’t need to eat.

7. Get Active

Staying active and getting your heart rate up releases feel good hormones that will boost your metabolism and help you to make good choices. So take a jog, walk the dog or give your house a much-needed heavy cleaning and you’ll be more likely to skip the cookie.

8. Go Nuts

We’re nuts for nuts. We’re talking food here, people! Nuts make a great snack. They’re packed with all the good stuff – fiber, monosaturated fats and vitamins, plus they’re filling and satisfying. Next time you’re looking for a smart snack, try a handful of almonds, pistachios or sunflower seeds–just be sure to keep it to one handful!

9. Cheat Smart

Sometimes you’re just plain hungry and that glass of water isn’t going to do it for you. If you must eat something sweet, eat a square of dark chocolate or a small portion of greek yogurt with berries. If you must have something salty, have a single serving of Pop Chips. It’s OK to snack, just be sure to make a smart food choice and mind your portions. In the end, making the Shift is about making a series of smart, health-concisous decisions each and every day.

10. Treat Yourself

You’ve been going strong–eating well and sticking to your exercise plan and you feel like you deserve to reward yourself for all of the hard work. That’s when temptation sneaks up. When you feel the urge to indulge in something that’s less than shift-worthy, instead celebrate your hard work by going to the nail salon, doing a face mask or window shopping. These fun and calorie-free indulgences will boost your mood and remind you why you began your Shift in the first place.

11. Stay Positive

Tell yourself that you can’t have something and you’ll only want it more. Try using affirmative language to set your goals. Instead of “I won’t eat junk food,” say “I will cook dinner at home 5 nights a week.” After you have set positive goals, get specific: What will you eat? What will you do when cravings strike? When will you exercise? Having a game plan and a positive outlook will keep you on the path to success.

What’s your go-to trick to avoid diet derailment? Share your best tips below.