When you’re trying to get into shape and lose weight, the foods you eat are critical for your success. You don’t, however, want to starve yourself and make meals boring. If you opt to try either of these approaches to shed pounds, your efforts are not likely to last long.

While a personal trainer can help you out with exercises for at home and in the gym and even offer dietary suggestions, it is up to you to make the right choices on a daily basis. One of the best ways to see this through is to learn how to make smarter, healthier substitutions for the foods you are craving. You can have your cake and eat it too (sort of), if you know how to tackle urges for particular foods with wiser selections.

The following are common cravings that don’t fit into most healthy diets and foods that can pinch hit quite well in their place:
• Cheeseburgers – This staple of the fast-food American diet can pack in a ton of calories and derail and entire day’s worth of healthy eating. Still, it’s a craving that’s hard to put down. When only a burger will do, try going with a grilled turkey burger instead. Skip the cheese and you’ll have a tasty, leaner alternative to typical fast food.
• Fries – With or without the burger, fries are a tempting treat. If you can’t say no, try going with baked sweet potato wedges instead. This alternative packs in the nutrients and offers a fresh taste alternative.
• Instant oatmeal – No matter how you slice it, oatmeal is good for you. The less processing involved, however, the better. Instead of instant oatmeal, choose steel cut for a better nutritional boost.
• Iceberg lettuce – Salads are the stereotypical diet food. Not all salads are as healthy as they could be. Iceberg lettuce, for example, offers no serious nutritional value. To boost the flavor and increase the nutrients offered, go with mixed greens instead.
• Milkshakes or ice cream – Fighting back a sweet tooth is no laughing matter. If a creamy shake or cone happens to be on your mind, opt for yogurt, smoothies or fresh fruits instead.
• Chocolate – Learn to get past this craving and you will be well on your way to weight loss success. When chocolate is your poison, select carob chips instead. Low-fat frozen fudge bars can also do the trick.
• Chips – Salty snacks are hard to give up. There are ways around the cravings though. If you’ve got to have something salty and crunchy, consider munching on carrot or celery sticks with a very light dusting of salt. A little salt in your diet is perfectly okay. Just avoid pouring it on.

When you’re trying to lose weight, cravings can be a real problem. Learning how to compensate for the foods you want with healthier choices can help you stay on track. If you’re feeling the “cravings” for other foods that are considered unwise, talk with a trainer or fitness expert at your health club for other substitution ideas.