Many of us believe that a food craving is our body’s way of signalling that it needs a certain nutrient. But research shows that’s unlikely to be true – with one possible exception.

Many foods are leaving your diet and are being replaced with 100 percent healthy items like:

* grilled chicken
* steamed broccoli
* salads
* apples
* quinoa

You figure you’re on top of your game and headed straight for success.
Two weeks later, you’re singing a different tune.
Depriving yourself of foods that you enjoy while trying to achieve fat loss often backfires! It leads you to go off binging on the very foods you were trying to avoid.

Basically, a restrictive diet is never going to lead you to the long term results you’re looking for.
Does this mean you should go off eating chips, ice cream, and cake?
Not exactly. While there is a time and place for indulgence, most of the time you do need to eat healthy.
Instead, it’s about finding a way to deal with your cravings without blowing your diet.
Here are some ideas on how you can do that.

* First, learning a few tricks to help curb your cravings when they strike is important. Often the best way to side-step eating is to simply drink a tall glass of water and then wait 10-15 minutes. For most people, the craving will pass.
* Others may need a jolt of exercise to do the trick. Head out and take a brisk walk for 15 minutes. See if you still want the food when you return.
* Still others may find that simply being at home around food strikes a case of the munchies. If that’s you, start filling your evening with activities that will keep you out of the home and away from food.

Giving In The Smart Way
If none of those work, then it’s time to consider giving in the smart way.
Don’t indulge in potato chips for instance.

Instead, try some sweet potato or zucchini chips.
Or is it ice cream you crave?
Treat yourself to a bowl of my super easy Banana Nice Creamor this Indulgent Banana Split “Salad.”
If you’re a chocoholic and need a fix, don’t feel guilty, just choose smart. There are endless benefits to eating dark chocolate in moderation, so one square added to your day can boost your health, not take away from it.

Come up with some smarter, healthier alternatives to the foods that you crave and you’ll soon find yourself losing weight without feeling like you’re on a “diet.”
If there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that restrictive dieting will not yield good long-term results.

Checkout our top cheat meals below

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By Huffpost

Mildly sweet and tangy, savory SLOW COOKER HONEY BALSAMIC BEEF is fall apart tender (literally!)

Crazy juicy, packed with flavor and smothered in the most delectable honey balsamic sauce you will be licking your plate! It is great for crowds as sandwiches or stand alone delicous with rice/potatoes, etc.!⠀ * 3-4 lbs. beef chuck roast * 1 tablespoon vegetable oil * 1 14.5 oz. can 50% less sodium beef broth (approx. 2 cups) * 1/2 cup quality balsamic vinegar * 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce * 1 cup ketchup * 1/2 cup honey * 1/2 cup packed brown sugar * 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard * 3 tablespoons dry minced onion * 1 tablespoon beef bouillon * 1 tsp EACH garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil * 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika * 1/4 teaspoon pepper plus more to taste after cooking * 1/4-½ teaspoon red pepper flakes * 1 tablespoon liquid smoke * 1 bay leaf INSTRUCTIONS * Heat vegetable over medium high heat in a large cast iron skillet. Using two forks or tongs to hold roast, sear on all sides until lightly browned. Add to slow cooker and top with all remaining ingredients. * Cook on LOW for 7 hours or until fall apart tender. * Remove roast to a cutting board and add all remaining slow cooker liquid to a large saute pan/skillet with sides (NOT a small saucepan). Simmer 25-30 minutes OR until thickened. It will thicken very quickly the last few minutes so watch closely towards the end. * Meanwhile, shred roast beef and add back to slow cooker. Stir in desired amount of thickened sauce. * Serve as sandwich filling or with rice, potatoes, etc. STORAGE Slow Cooker Roast Beef Should be cooled to room temperature, then you can remove the pot from the slow cooker and put the whole insert (lid on) in the refrigerator.  Alternately, you can also transfer your roast beef to an airtight container.  Plan on consuming within 3-4 days  or freeze for later. MAKE AHEAD * I often will cook my Slow Cooker Roast Beef until tender, then remove the removable ceramic insert and refrigerate the roast beef in the juices without shredding. * The next day, skim off all the hardened fat then cook on LOW in the slow cooker for 1-2 hours until warmed through then proceed with thickening the sauce. HOW TO REHEAT * Crockpot: To reheat your Slow Cooker Roast Beef from the refrigerator, place your ceramic crockpot insert back into your crockpot from the refrigerator, add a some water and heat on low for 1-2 hours. * Stove: Alternatively, you can reheat large batches on the stove over medium low heat with a few tablespoons of water, stirring occasionally until the beef is heated through. * Microwave: For smaller batches or individual servings, you can use the microwave.  Transfer stew to a microwave-safe dish, cover with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel.  Microwave for 1 minutes, stir, then continue to microwave for 30-second intervals, if needed. HOW TO FREEZE  1. Cool: Allow Crockpot Roast Beef to cool completely before freezing to preserve the integrity of the ingredients. 2. Package:  Transfer roast beef to an airtight freezer safe container or freezer bag.  You can even use sandwich size plastic bags for individual portion sizes.  Squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn and label 3. Freeze. Freeze for up to 3 months. 4. Defrost/Reheat. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in the microwave, crockpot or stove according to aforementioned instructions.

Source: @carlsbadcravings

Extra lush carrot cake

* 2 1/2 cups peeled and grated carrots DRY INGREDIENTS * 2 cups all-purpose flour * 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar * 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed * 1 cup pecans, finely chopped (I use my food processor) * 2 teaspoons baking soda * 1 teaspoon baking powder * 1/2 teaspoon salt * 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon * 1/2 teaspoon allspice * 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg WET INGREDIENTS * 4 large eggs * 3/4 cup Vegetable oil * 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (regular or lowfat) * 1 teaspoon vanilla extract * 2 teaspoons orange extract CREAM CHEESE FILLING * 8 oz full fat cream cheese, softened * 1/2 cup granulated sugar * 1 large egg * 1 teaspoon lemon juice * 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract * 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour ORANGE CREAM CHEESE GLAZE * 4 oz cream cheese, softened * 2 tablespoons butter, softened * 2 tablespoons orange juice * 2 teaspoons lemon juice * 1 teaspoon orange extract * 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract * 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted OPTIONAL DECORATIVE GARNISHES * roasted pecans, roughly chopped * orange zest * Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter and flour a 10 cup bundt cake pan (or use nonstick-spray with flour in it). Set aside.**
 * To make the Cream Cheese Filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in remaining Filling Ingredients until smooth. Set Aside. * In a large bowl, mix all of the Dry Ingredients together. In a separate bowl, gently whisk eggs then stir in remaining Wet Ingredients just until combined. Don’t overmix. * Stir Wet Ingredients into Dry Ingredients just until moistened, then stir in 2 ½ cups grated carrots until evenly combined (I use my clean hands to stir in the carrots). * Spoon 3 cups batter into prepared bundt cake pan. Spoon Cream Cheese Filling over batter and gently smooth, but do not touch the sides of the pan. Top with remaining batter. * Bake at 350F degrees for 45 minutes, cover with foil then reduce heat to 325 and bake an additional 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. * To make the Orange Cream Cheese Glaze, using an electric mixer, cream together all of the Glaze ingredients EXCEPT the powdered sugar on medium speed for 1-2 minutes or until completely smooth. Add sifted powdered sugar and beat until very smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before using. * When cake has cooled, drizzle Glaze over cake or individual servings, whisking in additional orange juice/milk if Glaze has become too thick upon standing. * Store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. To easily shred carrots, use the grater on your food processor. If you don’t have the grater blade, you can also finely chop in your food processor. **When “flouring” my pan, I use cocoa powder instead of flour because the cake is brown. ***Your cream cheese layer may not be as thick as the picture all the way around – I chose the thickest slice

Source: @carlsbadcravings

Berry croissant casserole

CASSEROLE * 8 large croissants (from the bakery) sliced into 1-inch cubes (10 packed cups) * 4 cups mixed berries (I use raspberries, blackberries, blueberries) CUSTARD * 14 ounces cream cheese, softened * 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar * 6 eggs at room temperature * 2 cups half and half at room temperature * 1 tablespoon vanilla extract * 1 tablespoon lemon juice * 2 teaspoons lemon zest * 1/4 teaspoon salt CREAM CHEESE LEMON GLAZE * 2 ounces cream cheese, softened * 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted * 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice * 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract * Toast croissants: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add the cubed croissants in a single layer to a large baking sheet (15×21-inches). Bake 350 degrees F for 7-10 minutes until golden and very toasted (keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!). Set aside to cool.
 * Custard: Add cream cheese and sugar to a large mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. Beat in the eggs until smooth, followed by the half and half, and finally the lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract and salt. 
 * Assemble: Transfer half of the croissants to a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish, then evenly layer with half of the berries. Pour half of the custard evenly over the dish. Add remaining croissants in a single layer followed by remaining custard. Press down with your hands so most of the croissants are submerged in the custard (it’s okay if the tops aren't). Scatter remaining berries over the dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
 * Bake: When ready to bake, remove the casserole from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter while you preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
 * Lemon Glaze: While the casserole is baking, make the Lemon Glaze. Add all of the Glaze ingredients to a medium mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. Taste and add additional sugar for sweeter or lemon juice for tangier. Drizzle the glaze all over the casserole.
 * Serve: Serve the breakfast casserole warm. Let individuals dust their servings with powdered sugar if they would like it sweeter. TO HALF RECIPE This recipe is easy to cut in half using an 8×8 baking dish.  Hover over the “12 servings” and a sliding scale will pop up.  Slide the scale down to 6 servings and the ingredients will adjust for you. The instructions and baking time will remain the same.   COOKING TIPS FOR THIS BREAKFAST CASSEROLE * Use quality croissants:  This isn’t the time for pop and bake croissants.  You want medium to large croissants from the bakery section of the grocery store because they have more fabulous flaky layers for the custard to hide in. * Cool the croissants:  Give the croissants some time to cool before drenching in the custard so they can firm up a bit – otherwise this defeats the purpose of toasting them!   * Use room temperature ingredients: You’ll want to use room temperature cream cheese, eggs and half and half, otherwise the cream cheese will seize and not mix well. If you do end up with some white flecks of cream cheese, it’s not the end of the world, they will melt when the breakfast casserole bakes. * Room temperature eggs hack: Add warm (not hot) tap water to a bowl then add eggs (still in their shells) for at least 20 minutes.  You can microwave your half and half until room temperature (NOT hot). * Use soft cream cheese:  Make sure you cream cheese is very soft. This is one time it’s okay to gently microwave your cream cheese, just make sure not to scorch it!  * Use fresh or frozen berries:  Fresh is best but frozen mixed berries will also work -no need to thaw first. * Add powdered sugar to taste:  The powdered sugar dusting is honestly more for aesthetic reasons.  I recommend serving the sweet breakfast casserole without the powdered sugar and then letting individuals decide if they would like their serving sweeter. HOW TO MAKE WITHOUT SITTING OVERNIGHT You can still make this recipe without letting it rest overnight, but adjust your expectations as the casserole won’t be as fluffy and may be runnier as the custard won’t have as much time to soak in. To make and bake this breakfast casserole immediately, skip toasting the croissants and instead let the casserole sit on the counter for 30-60 minutes so the croissants can soak up the liquid then bake per recipe instructions, being prepared to add an additional 5-10 minutes. HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT * Storage: This breakfast bake should be tightly covered or stored in an aright container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  * Microwave:  Add individual slices to a microwave safe plate and microwave for one minute.  Continue to microwave at 30 second intervals if needed to heat through. * Oven.  Reheating leftover breakfast croissant casserole in the oven will yield the best results.  Cover casserole with foil and bake at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes or until warmed through.

Source: @carlsbadcravings

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