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9 Smart Secrets for Self-Control When Cravings Hit

Whether it's the sweet, smooth taste of chocolate, the cheesy goo on a slice of pizza or the salty crunch of salt-and-vinegar chips, there's probably a food you crave. Here's how to stop food cravings—and stick with healthy choices!

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Unhealthy products. food bad for figure, skin, heart and teeth.Shutterstock / beats1

The 3 p.m. vending machine run for Fritos. The detour to the drive-thru for a hot bag of fries. That double chocolate chunk ice cream in the freezer, calling to you as you binge-watch Anne with an E. When your next craving strikes, use one of our nine tricks to keep it at bay!

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Lemon drinkShutterstock / Sea Wave

Drink a Glass of Water

It’s weird but true—we often mistake thirst for hunger. If you find yourself craving a snack, pour a nice, tall glass of water and drink it down. Wait a few minutes and you might just see that your craving has subsided.

Psst… Here’s what happens when you drink enough water!

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She has good night's sleepgpointstudio/Shutterstock

Get More Sleep

Studies have found that when you don’t get enough sleep, levels of the hormones that help control your appetite drop, boosting your desire for starchy foods. In the short term—to deal with that craving that’s striking right now—caffeine might help you keep away from the cookies.

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Diet diary - keep a record of what you eat in a journalShutterstock / Oleksandr Slobodskyi

Write Down What You Eat

Keeping a food journal might not eliminate your craving completely, but having to document what you eat might boost your willpower enough to combat the desire. Journaling can also help you identify the situations that tend to trigger your cravings. It’s one of the main strategies one of our editors used when giving up sugar for 30 days.

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Young Asian beautiful woman using smart phone for business, online shoppingShutterstock / Nattakorn_Maneerat

Get Your Game On

Research has found that playing a game like Tetris can reduce your cravings. The theory is that the visual images from the game crowd out the imagery in your mind of the food you’re craving. If Tetris isn’t your thing, it’s worth giving your favorite game app a try!

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Runner woman feet running on road closeup on shoe. AlexMaster/Shutterstock

Walk It Off

A 15-minute walk can stave off the craving for chocolate, which is the food people crave most commonly. In a study of 78 people, those who walked snacked on about half as much chocolate as those who didn’t. Scientists believe that exercise might create changes in the brain chemicals responsible for managing cravings.

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Stash Some Snacks

When your plan for the day includes healthy meals and snacks, you’ll be less likely to cave to cravings.

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chewing gumAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Gum Up the Works

Sometimes, simply chewing something can cut your cravings. Give gum a try—just be sure to choose a sugar-free version to keep the calorie count to a minimum. (And chewing gum comes with a bonus! Studies have found that people who chew gum consume fewer calories overall.)

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Have a Plan B

See if you can satisfy your craving with a healthy alternative. Looking for something crunchy and salty? Try this healthy snack mix. Craving sweets? See if these yogurt and honey fruit cups do the trick.

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Try Just a Taste

If nothing else works, go ahead and indulge your craving, but watch your portion size. Half of a cupcake might satisfy your sweet tooth. Or, grab just a few potato chips and top them with a healthy homemade dip to make the treat feel more substantial.

Stephanie Thurrott
Stephanie Thurrott has been a freelance content creator for more than a decade. She'd put her signature seared duck breast, turkey stuffing and homemade whiskey sours up against the best of them. Just don't ask her to bake.