One minute, you’re mindlessly going about your day, the next, you’re in the clutches of desire. Your object of lust: greasy pizza, fries and soda – followed by that sweet chocolate cake. Next thing you know, you’re slumped in your chair feeling drowsy from all the unhealthy food you just ate.

What just happened? You were hit hard by a food craving. I’m sure you’ve all experience strong food cravings and will power just isn’t enough to stop you from reaching for that bag of chips to satisfy the urge.

The next time you’re hit with an insatiable desire for a chocolate fudge brownie ice cream, ask yourself why you’re craving that specific food? Are you tired? Are you stressed out? Have you been eating less than usual? Cravings are your body’s way of telling you something. Our body is smart – If you are consuming not enough nutrients, your body will tell you to consume food that are high in fat and calories because it needs it. Sadly, instead of reaching for the healthy fats such as avocado or nuts or healthy carbohydrates such as bananas and apples, we reach for greasy pizza. When we crave salt, it is usually our body telling us that we need greens such as spinach or kale and foods that are high in nutritional value.

Let’s take a look at the strategies below that can help with managing food cravings:

Start you day with a smoothie

A healthy breakfast is key if you want to win over your cravings for sugar. The secret is to aim for nutrient dense foods over empty calories.

Smoothie bowls or Acai bowls are great because it is so easy to pack all the nutrients in one bowl. You get a good serving of protein, healthy fats, fiber and phytonutrients in just one sitting. It is good way to kick start your day, know you’ve started healthy will make you feel empowered to carry that momentum going throughout the day. Try it for a day and you will really feel the difference between eating healthy breakfast vs a cereal loaded with processed sugar.

Sleep Better

Getting a good night sleep is very important for our hormone regulation. It keeps our mood balanced. When our hormones fluctuate, it causes lack of energy and drop in blood sugar levels which can then lead you to crave sugar and refined carbohydrates. This is why chocolate is so appealing to most people why they are tired.

Stress Less

When you come home from a long stressful day at work and just wanted to dive straight into a tub of ice-cream, that’s a sure sign that you’re craving is linked to stress. When we’re stressed, we seek comfort in food when our emotional needs are not addressed.

Recognizing our triggers and getting in touch with our emotions can prevent us from emotional eating. Next time you feel yourself on the verge of an emotional picnic, take slow deep breaths and bring yourself into the present moment and know that that feeling will go away. Take a bath, relax, read a book – and if you’re still want to eat, grab something healthy like carrots and hummus or apple and peanut butter.

Find healthy alternatives

Healthy eating doesn’t mean we have to say goodbye to our delicious, indulgent foods.  denying yourself the pleasure of eating the foods you love will set you up for failure, finding healthy alternatives to your ‘pleasure foods’ is the best way to curb your unhealthy craving.

If you have sweets addiction – Check out this guilt-free alternative. There is always a healthy way to satisfy your cravings when they come. You just got to be prepared.