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Your Cookie Monster habits may not be your fault; studies indicate that such foods as chips and candy may be addictive. "They are full of fat, sugar, and salt, all of which stimulate your brain to release chemicals that make you want to eat more," Bauer says.
To ditch the habit and shed pounds sooner:
Budget sweets. Reduce the amount of junk food you commonly eat in a week by two portions. Every two weeks, slash a few more from your junk-food allotment. "If you slowly wean yourself off these foods, you won't feel deprived," says Ruth Frechman, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Make smart swaps. Find healthy stand-ins for your fave foods. Replace ice cream with low-fat fro-yo, chips and dip with veggies and hummus, and french fries with baked sweet-potato fries, Bauer says.
Turn on your diet GPS. Modify your daily commute to remove triggers that trip you up. "When I get off the subway at my usual stop, I'm enticed by cupcake stores and pizza places," Bauer says. "But if I get off at the next stop, there are no restaurants, so I don't even think about food." Similarly, take the highway to work instead of the local road with fast-food joints galore.
Quick Tip: Banish junk-food bloat by eating bananas. They're rich in potassium, which allows the body to flush out excess sodium, giving you a flatter belly.