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Can’t shake an urge that nothing but food will fulfill? The problem is that for many people, one bite leads to another and then another and…you can see where this is going. Some people also eat around the craving, says celebrity dietician Ashley Koff, R.D. This means you eat everything else in sight but the specific food and end up doing more caloric damage. “You can avoid both situations with alternatives that satisfy cravings and ensure you’re getting some healthy benefits at the same time,” says Koff.

QUIZ: Are You a Comfort-Food Eater?

 

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A good rule of thumb: When in doubt, try to find a less processed or whole food version of what you’re craving. “Processed foods are engineered to be problematic because they hit the bloodstream faster and cause you to eat more and more,” says Ashley Gearhardt, food addiction researcher at Yale. Satisfying cravings with whole foods can help you avoid overeating and that post-binge sick feeling.

MORE: The Science of Comfort Food

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