Food cravings, we all have them, but we don’t have to give in to them all the time. These five tips can help you outsmart your cravings so you stay in control.

Recognize your triggers
Most of us are creatures of habit. We are just wired that way. If you want to do something different you will need to interrupt the habit loop. For example, if you always eat chips when you sit on the sofa and turn on the television, it’s time for a new set up. Try watching your favorite show at the gym (cardio equipment usually has a monitor). Skip T.V. and read a book outside if the weather is nice. You can also do a little cardio in front of the couch instead of crashing on it. The key is interrupting the loop so the desire to complete the cycle doesn’t get tripped (sit on the sofa, turn on your show, reach for the snack).

Allow your discomfort
Cravings of all kinds come and go. They are not permanent. The next time you feel a craving surface, simply slow down and notice how it moves in your body. Where do you feel the craving? What are you telling yourself about it? Breathe deeply. Remind yourself that cravings are not permanent; this one will go too. You don’t have to do anything about it this time. It is okay to let the feeling pass without acting on it.

Decide on your big why
If you want to stop doing something, you need to find a reason not to do it that is more important to you than your reason to do it. For example, if you want to skip the chips, know why. The why of skipping should be something meaningful enough to get you through cravings most of the time.

Find a distraction
When the siren call of the forbidden snack is tempting you, find something else to do. Our minds are notoriously busy. As soon as you become engrossed in your distraction the craving will disappear.

Manage stress
Especially if the thing you crave brings comfort, stress management is key. Plan how you will care for yourself without cookies or mac and cheese. Exercise regularly and get at least 7 hours sleep each evening. It is harder to manage stress and cravings when you are tired and tense.

Notice if you are actually hungry
Check in with your body to determine if food is what you are craving, or something else. Could it be that you’re bored, lonely, anxious or feeling emotionally empty? Food won’t fix it. Look for the root of the desire and set about filling it appropriately.

Finally, stay hydrated (thirst can lead to overeating). And plan meals in advance. When you know exactly what you are going to eat all day you are less likely to succumb to temptations. Be patient with yourself, too. If you get carried away by cravings forgive yourself and try again. Every day is a new day with new opportunities…