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/ Source: TODAY
By Stephanie Mansour

Everyone gets cravings, and if you're trying to lose weight, they can make or break your success. It's important to find strategies that work for you! Here are five foolproof tips to help you take control of your cravings once and for all.

1. Sip, swap and sniff away your cravings.

Before giving into your craving, sip from a glass of water. While sipping, think of a way to swap your craving for something healthy. For example, craving salty chips? Pop some kale in the oven and sprinkle it with sea salt. Are you in the mood for a piece of pizza? Sautée some veggies and use marinara sauce with a little bit of cheese sprinkled on top. Aside from sipping water and swapping out your craving for a healthier one, you can also swap in your favorite non-food scent. Research shows that sniffing a non-food odor can significantly reduce cravings.

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2. Set an obnoxious alarm.

Set an alarm on your phone to an obnoxious ring for ten minutes after your craving strikes. Once the alarm goes off, and you’re annoyed by the sound, think of that sound as your craving. It’s an annoying part of your day that’s only going to put you in a worse mood and potentially cause you to feel guilty for eating something unhealthy.

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Alas, if you’re still craving that ice cream after ten minutes, have a spoonful or two. However, if the craving subsides, then you’ve successfully taught yourself how to take control over your cravings and let them pass in due time.

3. Employ reverse psychology.

Tell yourself you CAN eat anything you want. If I told you that you can't have a piece of chocolate cake, you’ll probably want it. This is because psychologically, we want what we can’t have. Instead, tell yourself that you can eat the chocolate cake if you want it. And if you don’t want it, don’t eat it.

Your mindset will become, “If I want to eat it, then I can. If I don’t want to eat it, then I won’t.” Use this thought pattern to your advantage to kick cravings to the curb once and for all. Research shows this type of thinking and the “if-then” scenario shows promise for reducing cravings in general.

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4. Give into your craving — in a smart way.

If you’re getting cravings throughout the day, chances are your blood-sugar levels are out of whack. Instead of being on an energy roller coaster ride throughout the day, stabilize your energy, mood and blood-sugar levels by eating protein every three to four hours. Research has found that eating protein helps sustain blood-sugar levels, which will reduce cravings for sugar and carbs.

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Start to view your cravings as signals to eat protein. This will get you into the habit of eating properly so that eventually, your cravings will subside altogether.

5. Stop linking your emotions with food.

If you're craving a celebratory (and greasy) order of pizza, pay attention to what you're feeling. For example, if you want to celebrate, could you instead call a friend to share the good news? Or if you're craving a food to make you feel good or happy, try out a positive affirmation that also makes you feel good and happy. There are apps like ThinkUp and Unique Daily Affirmations that send you positive phrases and compliments. There are also apps like Craving Counter that allow you to track your cravings and become more mindful to determine if you actually are craving a food or craving something else.

Though it might be difficult to establish new habits around your cravings, it will certainly get easier with time. Try starting with one new behavior and adding another after you have the first one down!

Stephanie Mansour is a weight-loss and lifestyle coach for women. Join her weight-loss challenge here!