8 healthy ways to give in to your cravings

Research shows that denying yourself foods you love makes you more likely to go on a junk-food bender. Use our smart strategies to satisfy yourself without the guilt.

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1. Sink your teeth into a burger…with all the fixings
For a juicy gourmet burger with only a fraction of the calories, make your own using ground turkey. Top with low-fat cheese, a spoonful of tomato salsa and mashed avocado.

Bonus: Save more calories by trading the bun (about 120 calories) for a knife and fork. Trust us, you won’t miss it. Check out our recipe for a juicy turkey burger here.

2. Embrace your inner chocoholic
A University of Toronto study found women on strict diets who were denied chocolate for a week had greater cravings than those who ate what they wanted. So when a craving hits, go for it (in moderation): Pour a glass of low-fat chocolate milk or snack on a square of 70-percent dark chocolate, which contains flavanols to make your heart happy too!

Make it a habit: Always buy dark chocolate, not milk.

3. Say yes to carbs
In a study reported in the journal Appetite, women who were asked to cut carbohydrates for three days reported stronger food cravings and ate 44 percent more calories from carb-rich foods on day four. Whole-grain carbs like oats, bulgur and whole-wheat pasta are actually a key part of a balanced diet. Their high fibre content keeps you feeling full, and research links them to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. They also help control blood-sugar levels. So go ahead, dig in!

4. Start with water
If you feel (or hear) your stomach growling, down water before anything else. We often mistake thirst for hunger.

5. Satisfy your sweet tooth

Instead of sugar try these natural alternatives:

Stevia: Add the liquid version of this plant-based, calorie-free sweetener to a glass of iced tea or your morning coffee. Three to four drops equals 1 tsp of sugar.
Applesauce: Subtly sweeten a favourite muffin or loaf recipe. Purée your own or buy a jar of unsweetened applesauce. In many recipes, it can also replace part of the called-for amount of oil, butter or eggs, reducing fat and calories.
Agave nectar: Drizzle over a bowl of plain, low-fat Greek yogurt and blueberries, or experiment with raw-food recipes like no-bake bars and dessert smoothies.

Bottom line: You can train your body to want less sweetness by gradually reducing your intake.

6. Sprinkle on seasonings
No, we don’t mean salt! Fresh or dried herbs pack a flavourful punch, without bumping up your hypertension risk. Try these favourites:

Rosemary: The tiny leaves impart a woody, rich flavour that’s a perfect match for roast potatoes or grilled chicken.
Thyme:
Its fresh, lemony hint is an excellent addition to seafood dishes.
Basil:
Dress up pizza, salads and pasta sauces with this lively herb.
Sage:
Add these mildly peppery leaves to beef and pork marinades.

7. Embrace a milkshake habit
The rich, creamy texture of a coconut milkshake makes it just as satisfying as a traditional one from an ice-cream shop. Plus, coconut boasts high levels of electrolytes, so it’s the perfect post-gym treat . Simply blend a cup of light coconut milk with half a mango and a handful of ice.

8. Eat a bag of chips
Kale chips are a low-fat, vitamin-packed alternative to the usual suspects. Buy them at the health-food store, or make your own: Wash and dry a bunch of kale. Tear leaves into bite-sized pieces; toss with 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tsp of sea salt. Spread in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until edges are brown.