Like most people, you probably enjoy eating junk food from time to time. But if you’re not careful, overeating junk food can quickly become a habit that’s hard to break. In this article, we’ll discuss tips for stopping eating junk food. So keep reading to learn more!
What is considered junk food?
Junk food is typically high in calories, sugar, fat, and sodium. This combination of ingredients makes junk food very tasty and addictive. But unfortunately, junk food is also usually low in nutritional value, which means it doesn’t provide your body with the necessary vitamins and minerals to function correctly.
Many think junk food is only unhealthy fast food like McDonald’s or Burger King. However, junk food is anything that is high in calories and low in nutrient value. This can include candy, cake, cookies, fried foods, processed meats, and sugary drinks. Overeating junk food can lead to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
Why is it hard to stop eating junk food?
The first step to conquering our junk food cravings is understanding why we have them in the first place. There are three main reasons why junk food is so hard to resist: dopamine, fat, and sugar.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. For example, when we eat something that tastes good, our brains release dopamine, which gives us a sense of pleasure. The problem is that junk food is designed to be as addictive as possible, loaded with dopamine triggers. Some studies have shown that processed foods can be just as addictive as cocaine and heroin!
Another reason why junk food is so hard to resist is because it is high in fat and sugar. Our bodies are hardwired to crave these nutrients because they were essential for survival in our hunter-gatherer days. So when we eat foods high in fat and sugar, our bodies release a hormone called ghrelin, which increases our appetites even more. To make matters worse, when we finally give in to our cravings and eat junk food, our bodies release even more ghrelin in anticipation of the next time we eat!
Lastly, overeating junk foods activate the brain’s reward system in a way similar to taking drugs. When we overeat, our brains release chemicals that make us feel happy and satisfied. And just like with drugs, the more we overeat, the more tolerant we become to the effects of those chemicals. As a result, we have to eat more and more junk food to get the same feeling of satisfaction.
How to Stop Eating Junk Food
You’re not alone if you find yourself eating junk food even though you know you shouldn’t. Unfortunately, millions of people are addicted to junk food and have difficulty stopping indulging, even when they know they should eat healthier. But there is hope! You can break your junk food addiction and start eating healthy with little effort and commitment. Here’s how:
Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time
One of the best ways to break your junk food habit is to plan your meals. This way, you’ll have healthy options and won’t be as tempted to indulge in unhealthy junk foods. Planning ahead can also help you save money because you can take advantage of sales and bulk discounts.
Keep Healthy Snacks with You
When those mid-afternoon cravings hit, ensure you have healthy snacks on hand, so you’re not tempted to run to the vending machine or drive-thru. Pack some nuts, fruits, or vegetables in a baggie or container so you always have something healthy to eat when hunger strikes.
Avoid trigger Foods
We all have foods that we crave when we’re feeling stressed, sad, or bored. If possible, avoid having these trigger foods in the house so you’re not tempted to eat them. If that’s not possible, try portioning them out so you can only have a little bit at once. This will help you avoid overeating and consuming too many calories.
Make Healthy Swaps
If there are certain junk foods that you can’t seem to give up, try making healthier swaps. For example, if you love chips and dip, swap the chips for carrot sticks or celery and make homemade guacamole or salsa for the dip. You can also swap out candy for fruit or dark chocolate, bake instead of fry, and use lean meats instead of fatty meats.
Eat The Rainbow
What does it mean to “eat the rainbow?” Eating the rainbow means consuming various fruits and vegetables of all different colors. Why is this important? Because different colors of fruits and vegetables contain other vitamins and minerals essential for our health. By consuming various colorful fruits and vegetables, we ensure that our bodies get all the nutrients they need.
Another benefit of eating the rainbow is that it helps you avoid eating junk food. You’re much less likely to indulge in unhealthy snacks when you have a fridge full of colorful fruits and vegetables. So next time you’re tempted by those office donuts or that bag of chips calling your name from the pantry, look in your fridge and see what healthy options are available. You might find that you don’t even miss junk food!
Consume Healthy Fats
Science has shown that when you consume healthy fats like Omega-3s at every meal, you are less likely to crave unhealthy junk foods. This is because healthy fats help to regulate blood sugar levels, keeping them steady throughout the day. When blood sugar levels are stable, you are less likely to experience cravings for sugary and fatty foods. So start your day with a breakfast that includes eggs or salmon, add some avocado to your lunchtime sandwich, and cook with olive oil or coconut oil for dinner.
Work on Managing Your Stress
When you’re feeling stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol. Cortisol tells your body to store fat and release sugar into the bloodstream so that you’ll have quick energy. That sounds great in theory, but it often leads to overeating junk foods high in sugar and fat. Research has shown that people under a lot of stress are more likely to make poor food choices. So, what can you do about it?
- First, it’s important to understand that stress is a normal part of life. You can’t eliminate all stress from your life, and you shouldn’t try to. Instead, focus on managing your stress levels healthily.
- Secondly, ensure you’re eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day. When you let yourself get too hungry, you’re more likely to make unhealthy choices.
- Finally, have some healthy snacks on hand so that when those cravings strike, you’re prepared.
Consume Adequate Protein
1. Eat a high-protein breakfast.
Starting your day with a nutritious breakfast is always a good idea, but it’s crucial when you’re trying to break your junk food addiction. Make sure your breakfast includes plenty of protein-rich foods like eggs, yogurt, nuts, or seeds. Not only will this help keep you full until lunchtime, but it’ll also give you the energy you need to power through your morning without reaching for unhealthy snacks.
2. Incorporate protein into every meal and snack.
If you want to ensure you’re getting enough protein throughout the day, try including it at every meal and snack. This doesn’t mean that every meal needs to be a huge steak; even something as simple as hard-boiled eggs or a handful of nuts can help round out your daily protein intake. And if you find yourself snacking more often than usual, make sure those snacks are high in protein as well—otherwise, you’ll end up right back where you started, craving junk food.
3. Choose lean protein sources.
When increasing your protein intake, it’s important to choose lean sources of protein like grilled chicken or fish, tofu, legumes, or fat-free Greek yogurt. These proteins are not only lower in calories than their fatty counterparts, but they’re also packed with nutrients like vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health. So not only will they help control your junk food cravings, but they’ll also help improve your overall health at the same time.
Fruit Provides the Same Satisfaction as Junk Food—Without the Negative Effects
When you eat junk food, your brain gets a hit of sugar or other addictive substances that provide a temporary feeling of satisfaction. However, those substances also have a host of adverse effects on your health, including weight gain, tooth decay, and increased risk for heart disease.
Fruit can provide the same satisfaction as junk food without any negative consequences. That’s because fruit contains natural sugars that give you energy and essential nutrients like vitamins and fiber that help keep your body healthy. And when you make fruit a regular part of your diet, you’ll start to crave it more than junk food. So next time you’re reaching for a bag of chips, try grabbing an apple instead. You’ll be surprised at how good it tastes—and how good you’ll feel afterward.
Fruit is an Easy and Convenient Snack You Can Take with You Anywhere
One of the main reasons people continue to eat junk food is because it’s easy and convenient. It’s easy to grab a bag of chips or a candy bar on your way out the door, but it’s not always so easy to find something healthy to eat on the go. However, fruit is just as easy and convenient as junk food—if not more so. You must buy some fruits you like and keep them in your fridge or purse, so they’re always within reach.
And if you’re worried about them going bad before you have a chance to eat them, there are plenty of fruit that doesn’t need refrigeration, like bananas, apples, and oranges. So there’s no excuse not to try incorporating fruit into your diet today!
Focus on Eating Wholesome Foods
Wholesome foods are nutrient-rich and provide your body with the energy it needs to function properly. On the other hand, junk food is high in calories but low in nutrients, so it provides your body with quick energy that quickly fades, leaving you hungry again. That’s why it’s important to ensure that wholesome foods are a regular part of your diet. You’ll find it much easier to resist junk food cravings when you do that because your body will get the nourishment it needs.
Think About Junk Food in a Different Way
- Think about the long-term effects of eating junk food. What might happen if you continue to eat junk food regularly?
- Focus on the nutritional content of foods rather than just the taste. When deciding what to eat, consider whether a particular food will nourish your body or fill you up with empty calories.
- Ensure you’re getting enough fiber by eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fiber helps keep you regular and helps reduce cholesterol levels.
- Drink plenty of water each day. Water helps flush out toxins and keeps your body hydrated.
- Avoid eating late at night before bedtime. Eating before bed can make falling asleep difficult and lead to weight gain.
Shop the Perimeter of Grocery Stores
The next time you’re at the store, try this method: only shop the perimeter. This method is based on the fact that the healthiest and most natural foods are typically found outside the store, while processed and unhealthy foods are located in the aisles. So, by sticking to the perimeter, you’ll naturally eat better without even trying. Here’s how to do it.
1. Start with produce. Fruits and vegetables should make up a good portion of your diet, so it only makes sense to start with them at the store. Check for seasonal produce first—not only is it usually cheaper, but it also tastes better. Once you’ve got your fruits and veggies taken care of, move on to…
2. Meat and dairy. The meat and dairy sections are usually located near each other, so hit them both up at once. Look for lean cuts of meat and low-fat dairy options to keep things healthy. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, this is where you’ll find most of your protein options as well. After that, it’s on to…
3. Grain products. This includes everything from bread to pasta to rice and anything made with grains. As with meat and dairy, look for whole-grain options rather than processed ones. Not sure if something is a whole grain? Just check the label—it should say “100% whole wheat” or something similar. And finally…
4. Nuts, seeds, and oils. These items are often located near the grain products or the produce section. They make great snacks or additions to meals—be careful not to overdo it on the oils, which can contain many calories even though they’re healthy.
Manage Your Junk Food Cravings
Here are some tips to help you fend off those junk food cravings:
1. Keep healthy snacks with you at all times. If you have healthy snacks handy, you’ll be less likely to give in to your junk food cravings. Fill a bag or box with nutritious snacks like fruits and nuts so you always have something to reach for when a craving hits.
2. Drink lots of water. Sometimes when we think we’re hungry, we’re just thirsty. So make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid mistaking thirst for hunger.
3. Avoid trigger foods. If certain foods always seem to lead to junk food cravings, do your best to avoid them altogether. For example, if you can’t resist ice cream after eating cake, don’t buy a cake in the first place. Out of sight, out of mind!
4. Get rid of temptations. If you have any junk food in your house, get rid of it! Donate it to a food pantry or toss it in the trash. The last thing you want is to be faced with temptation when a craving strikes.
5. Distract yourself. When a craving hits, try to distract yourself with something else until it passes. For example, call a friend, take the dog for a walk, or read a book until the urge goes away.
6. Get More Rest. If you’re trying to break your junk food addiction, one of the best things you can do is get more sleep. When well-rested, your body doesn’t crave quick fixes of sugar and fat. Instead, you’re more likely to make healthy food choices that provide sustained energy throughout the day. Getting enough sleep also helps improve your mood and reduces stress levels. This can make it easier to resist the urge to eat junk food when feeling emotional.
If you’re trying to quit eating junk food, it’s important to be prepared. Having a plan of action and some healthy alternatives can help you transition to a more nutritious diet. Remember, it’s okay to slip up every once in a while—just don’t let one mistake turn into a full-blown relapse. You can break your junk food addiction for good with a little effort and perseverance!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I stop eating junk food?
You can do a few things to help stop eating junk food. First, try to eat more fruits and vegetables. Seasonal produce is usually cheaper and tastes better. You can also look for leaner cuts of meat and low-fat dairy options. Grain products, nuts, seeds, and oils are also good options. Finally, try to drink lots of water and avoid trigger foods.
What are some healthy alternatives to junk food?
Some healthy alternatives to junk food include fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and oils.
Why is it so hard to stop eating junk food?
Junk food is often high in sugar, fat, and calories, making it addictive. Once you start eating junk food, it can be hard to stop.
How can I avoid trigger foods?
One way to avoid trigger foods is to always keep healthy snacks with you. If you have healthy snacks handy, you'll be less likely to give in to your junk food cravings. You can also try to drink lots of water and get more sleep.