For the rest of us, we have to rely on discipline.
This is where the marshmallows come in. In the late 60's and early 70's, Dr. Walter Mischel of Stanford University conducted the Marshmallow Test to understand how deferred gratification develops in children.
Children were taken to a room where they were isolated with little distraction. They sat at a table where researchers placed a cookie, marshmallow, or another treat. The children were told that if they waited for the researcher to come back, they would get a second treat as a reward. They followed up with the children later on in their lives and found that the children who waited for the reward, were more likely to succeed in school and other areas of life.
When working on a weight loss goal, deferring gratification can make a big difference in your success. The trouble is that discipline is hard to come by. However, it is never too late to attain it.
People who have discipline are able to trade in small gains in the present in exchange for larger rewards in the future. Instead of seeing that candy bar and getting the joy of eating it right now, think of how much happier you will be when you see your fit body in the mirror and you can finally fit into those designer jeans. Instead of getting the stimulation from watching a TV program tonight, get outside and start running. Maybe it might not feel great right now, but it will be worth it when you start feeling how strong your body is and how much self-esteem you will have.
It is easy to tell yourself you need to be disciplined. The real work comes in actually taking the actions necessary to build discipline.
Know your limits. In watching video re-creations of the Marshmallow Test, you can see the differences in behavior between the children who waited for the reward and those who didn't. The children who were able to wait had as much difficulty with temptation as the children who couldn't - except the children who waited occupied themselves, kept their heads down and their eyes away from the marshmallow.
Do the same in your everyday life. The real temptation does not start in the kitchen. It starts in the grocery store. If you can avoid the snack food aisle all together, you know that you are well on your way. Create a grocery and plan your route at the grocery store so you can B-line past the blowout sale cookie display.
Have a plan. Make sure you have something healthy waiting in the fridge to ease the temptation of going to the drive-through when you're hungry driving home from work. Junk food itself is not enemy. It's boredom. If you can fill your time with meaningful activity, you might even forget that you have cravings in the in first place.