Despite trying your best to eat healthy, sometimes it seems like cravings can get the best of you. Even if you know how bad you’ll feel later if you cave into them, it can be a serious challenge to fight them off.

However, just because you’re lured in by the siren song of your food cravings doesn’t automatically mean that you’re a failure or doomed to be overweight forever. It just means you need better coping mechanisms to overcome them.

If you’re struggling with non-stop cravings for bad food, it might be a good idea to do a little introspection to try to pinpoint where they’re coming from.

These four tips can help you not only beat cravings, but they can also help you prevent them from coming back in the future.

1) Get Plenty of Sleep

Think back on the past couple of weeks. How’s your sleep been?

Are you getting enough shut-eye, or do you instead find yourself burning the midnight oil and waking up in the wee hours of the morning?

If you’re like most people, there’s a good chance that your sleep has been suffering. Whether it’s due to work, personal life, or other considerations, you simply may not be getting enough sleep at night.

And this could be causing you to gain weight.

When you’re tired, you’re more likely to reach for high-energy foods for a quick pick-me-up. (Read: foods high in fats and carbohydrates.)

In turn, you’re never quite full and never quite satisfied. And, of course, the pounds pile on due to your poor eating habits.

The bottom line is that there’s no substitute for a good night’s sleep.

2) Manage Your Stress

Of course, if you’re not sleeping well, there may be a good reason why.

How are your stress levels? On a scale of one to ten, would you say you were a “one” (easy peasy) or a “ten” (the world is imploding around you)…or even higher?

It’s completely normal to want to ease the tension of daily life with a food reward. As a matter of fact, research completely supports this very human behavior of reaching for tasty snacks to offset a bad mood.

Bad day at work? Tonight it’s cheeseburgers and beer for dinner. Kids out of control? Momma needs some wine and chocolate.

Instead of succumbing to these cravings, instead, try out some other coping mechanisms. Take a long walk to blow off some steam. Call your best friend and vent to them instead of going to town on a slice of chocolate cake.

Sure, food feels good at the moment… but in the later? The stressors are still there, and in addition to being grumpy and sad, you now have a stomachache, too.

3) Change Up Your Diet

Does this sound like you?

You’re running late in the morning, so you skip breakfast. Your stomach is growling during the 10 a.m. office meeting, but lunch isn’t for another two hours.

Finally, you get to eat, but you only get a half-hour window of time to quickly cram something into your mouth before you go back to work. You’re starving, so you reach for something energy dense, but then you eat too quickly.

Now you’re overfull, sluggish, and need to make it until dinner… which isn’t for another six hours.

At three o’clock, someone sets out cookies or chips in the breakroom. You absentmindedly pick at them until the clock finally says you can go home.

If your eating patterns are unbalanced and erratic, then it’s no wonder you’re always craving high-calorie foods and gaining weight.

If you starve yourself during the day (especially if you’re in a stressful environment!), you’re more likely to crave fattening foods and even binge on them.

Adding more protein to your diet, as well as high-fiber foods, can also help you ward off bad food cravings.

Over time, by consistently developing healthy eating habits, you can actually reprogram your brain to stop craving junk foods.

4) Give into the Craving (But Healthily!)

If you’ve done everything you can to overcome your cravings, but you still feel like you’re powerless to stop them, then you can try to squash the craving by giving into it.

But here’s the caveat: Give in only a little, and find a healthy substitution.

Research suggests that sugar is addictive, but you can train your tastebuds to want healthy foods instead. Over time, your body will actually ask for fruits, vegetables, and other yummy (but good for you!) snacks.

If you’re craving chips with dip, grab a handful of baby carrots and sliced bell peppers and dip them in some hummus.

Want something sweet? A handful of berries can do the trick.

With time and practice, your cravings will get milder, and soon you’ll be able to ignore them successfully.

Staying Slim in a Hustle and Bustle Life

Conquering your cravings isn’t a skill that you’re going to develop overnight. After all, it does take time and practice to undo any bad habits that you’ve already taught yourself.

In the meanwhile, there are a few other tricks you can pull out of your sleeve when you’re trying to white-knuckle it through your cravings.

If you can’t shake off the urge to eat, try brushing your teeth or chewing some sugar-free gum. A little bit of mint goes a long way in curbing any food cravings.

Water is always a good option, too, if you’re dwelling on the ice cream in your freezer. Many people mistake hunger for thirst. Unsweetened sparkling water can help you both hydrate yourself and enjoy a guilt-free treat.

Finally, don’t bring bad stuff into your house in the first place. You can’t nosh on it if it’s not there, right?

When you go shopping, stock up on healthy foods. Fruits, veggies, and lean proteins are your friend.

By implementing these helpful tips and tricks, you can help not only stop weight gain in its tracks but also shed those unwanted pounds that have been piling on.

The end result? A happier, healthier you in the long run!