Food cravings…we all have them and try so hard to fight them, but is it really necessary? Learn the simplest way to get over it with Intuitive Eating and nutrition Expert Rachael Hartley.

Want to know how to make a food craving go away?

The simple answer? Satisfy it.

But of course, that answer doesn’t give the full details of how it’s done, so let’s delve into the long version. To start, it’s important to understand that cravings essentially come from three places.

First, there’s emotional cravings.

It may present as a desire to eat a box of chocolate chip cookies, but at its root, the craving is really an unmet emotional need. While the cookies might temporarily make you feel better by serving as a distraction, in the long run it doesn’t do much good because that emotional need requires your attention.

Other times the craving stems from hunger.

When you haven’t fueled yourself adequately, either by not eating enough or going too long between meals and snacks, that hunger may also look like an uncontrollable desire to gorge on a box of chocolate chip cookies (or really anything that provides a quick source of calories). But in this case, any food will do, as long as it provides substance.

But sometimes you experience a specific food craving because, well, you just really want to eat that specific food.

Maybe it’s because you saw an ad with a big, juicy burger on TV and it looked really tasty. Or perhaps you’re just in the mood for a big plate of greasy Chinese takeout. Or maybe you passed by the window of a local bakery and spotted a delicious-looking chocolate chip cookie, and suddenly, visions of chocolate chip cookies are dancing through your head.

Instead of eating that chocolate chip cookie,  you can opt to light a stress relieving candle or do five minutes of deep breathing meditation. These are all amazing alternate options, but it’s not the chocolate chip cookie you are craving.

You can make yourself a nice balanced snack, like peanut butter and an apple or cheese with whole grain crackers. And as much as you love apples and peanut butter and cheese and crackers, it may taste like a sad diet food because alas, it’s not a chocolate chip cookie. None of these things may satisfy your craving.

Nope, the only way to make that chocolate chip cookie craving go away so it doesn’t consume your thoughts may in fact be to simply eat a chocolate chip cookie. And no, not a diet chocolate chip cookie or a few chocolate chips in peanut butter, but an actual big, buttery chocolate chip cookie.

Congrats, your craving is now satisfied.

The only catch? Satisfying a food craving requires more than just eating the food you’re craving. If you’re eating it while distracted with TV or feelings of guilt, you won’t notice the rich chocolate chips melting on your tongue, or the hints of vanilla shining through. If you’re not allowing yourself to savor said chocolate chip cookie, the craving isn’t truly satisfied, and more than likely, that chocolate chip cookie will continue to haunt your thoughts.

If you’ve spent years denying yourself cravings, I know this may seem really overwhelming.

And truthfully, in practice, learning to honor your cravings can be more complicated than I’ve laid out. You may not even know what you’re really craving at first, especially if you have a history of covering up emotions with food or ignoring hunger cues.

So start from the beginning, and simply get in the practice of pausing and asking yourself “what do I really want right now.” And then honor that desire, even if you’re not 100% completely sure you’ve pinpointed it correctly.

With time, you’ll get back in touch with your needs, and in the habit of satisfying them.

Adapted from the original article.

Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE is a private practice dietitian, food enthusiast, and nutrition expert based in Columbia, SC.  By guiding others to rediscover the joy of nourishment rather than deprivation, Rachael helps men and women alike improve their health and well-being through delicious whole food recipes and practical advice. To begin living your healthiest days ahead, connect to work with Rachael by visiting Avocado A Day Nutrition