If you try to eat healthy and take regular exercise I think it's possible to allow for all types of food in your diet in moderation.

But, sometimes you may find yourself overcome with evil cravings that seem to have a mind of their own!

So, why do we crave certain foods? According to Dr Elizabeth Markley, assistant professor at the University of Connecticut:

Research shows that people tend to binge if they´ve been restricted, we don´t know how much of that is purely psychological - simply wanting what you can´t have.

So, whether you crave particular foods because you´re experiencing low mood, or you've been too restrictive, it can be extremely difficult to prevent at times.

Here are 5 things you can do to stop food cravings:

1. Stay well hydrated
Very often when you feel hungry it's your bodies way of telling you to drink more. Water also acts as a natural appetite suppressant because it keep your stomach full, and this is why it's my number one way to fend off food cravings!

2. Wait a few minutes
Have you ever noticed that cravings don't last long? If you give them a few minutes you may just find you actually don't need anything after all. Try doing something else to take your mind off the craving for 15 minutes, such as washing the dishes, calling a friend, or walking the dog, etc.

3. Avoid your trigger foods
Marcia Pelchat, of the Monell Center says,

You crave what you eat, so if you switch what you're eating, you can weaken your old cravings and strengthen new ones.

In her study, volunteers were asked to drink a bland dietary-supplement drink for five days. Participants noticed that during this time they craved fewer of their trigger foods.

So, if you're trying to avoid your food triggers, remember that the first few days are always going to be the most difficult. Again, it may not be possible to completely eliminate your old cravings, but if you can avoid your trigger foods for a while you may notice you begin to crave them less.

4. Choose a healthy snack instead
Sometimes ignoring your cravings or drinking water simply won't cut it! On these occasions make a healthier choice instead. I'd suggest drinking a big glass of water, and eating around 1 1/2 ounces of mixed unsalted nuts and seeds to help satisfy those cravings.

5. Indulge once in a while
Allowing yourself a treat on occasion can be a really helpful strategy for most people. The thing to remember is portion control. So, if you feel like eating chocolate, have a few small squares and go for a high cocoa version - as a general rule of thumb, aim for 70 percent (or higher) cocoa for the most disease-fighting antioxidants.

Vanilla-scented aroma patches
If none of the above work for you, research suggests a vanilla-scented patchmay be another way to beat cravings.

The research was conducted at St George's Hospital, London (where I trained as a dietitian), and they found the patch was as effective as some of the popular slimming drugs, but without the side effects.

Chief dietitian Catherine Collins said:

The aroma patch significantly reduced sweet food intake and there was greater weight loss amongst those using the vanilla patch, compared to a lemon-scented dummy or no patch...The most interesting thing we found was that the chocolate score was halved for people wearing the vanilla patch.

Unfortunately, the patches didn't affect peoples appetite for boiled sweets, savory snacks or alcohol.

I'm wondering if you could simply light a vanilla-scented candle for the same effect?

What tips do you have to stop food cravings?