For a lot of people, the urge to eat is extremely difficult to resist. It’s a comfort that, once learned, is not easily unlearned. And most of the time that comfort comes from food that lacks nutritional value.

However, one of the best ways to prevent bad eating habits is to designate “safe” foods, which act as alternatives to unhealthy snacks you often target when bingeing.

By always having an alternative handy, you’ll find it less temping to run out to Taco Bell for a quick fix. My favorite alternatives include:

  • Carrots (with a little ranch dressing for dip)
  • Celery and peanut butter (go easy on the PB, though)
  • Apples (always)
  • Bananas
  • Oranges (they make great candles too)

The idea goes hand-in-hand with the Apple Rule, but used for more than just warding off feelings of hunger.

Instead of going cold turkey like a lot of people do when dieting, I kept the unhealthy snacks around in order to moderate myself and improve self-control. It may seem counter-intuitive, but having snacks that I tended to binge on available at anytime helped me overcome the need I felt for those foods.

Over time, I was not only able to overcome my bad eating habits, I was able to reduce my appetite and actually enjoy unhealthy foods in moderation.

I still occasionally binge eat, but every time it occurs I learn more about what I need to prevent it from happening again; and that starts with my alternatives.

Related: 10 Healthy Snacks Even College Kids Can Afford

Image: Tomek Broszkiewicz