How To Stop Eating Junk Food

September 20, 2016 | Health & Fitness | Ellie Cardillo

How to stop eating Junk food? You want to know the answer if you are looking to improve your snacking habits or if you are trying to lose weight. Junk foods like potato chips, candy, cookies, and soda may make you feel momentarily happy, but they are not so good for your health.

Kicking the junk food habit is easier said than done for many people, but there are some steps that will move you along the path to better eating habits.

Staying away from junk food

staying-away-from-junk-food

1. Buy healthy food only

Buy whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, milk, eggs, and whole grains. Selecting foods on the outer ring of the grocery store or foods with five ingredients or less is an easy way to make sure that you are making healthy choices.

2. Stop buying junk food

Keeping junk food around when you are trying to avoid it is a recipe for failure. If you have lots of junk food on hand, you will be much more likely to eat it. Stop buying junk food and keep it out of your house, car, and office. 😉

3. Keep plenty of healthy snacks on hand

The more healthy food that is readily available for you to choose from, the easier it will be for you to keep yourself from chowing down on junk.

Keep granola bars, fresh fruit, almonds, and low-fat yogurt in your refrigerator and always stash a couple of snacks in your car or purse.

4. Keep healthy convenience foods on hand

Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables. Stock your pantry with canned beans, tomatoes, whole grain pasta, brown rice, and other healthy staples so that you can easily throw together a pasta primavera or pot of rice and beans. Cooking dinner at home will save you money and it will take about the same amount of time as going through a drive through. 😀


Distracting Yourself

distracting-yourself

1. Analyze your desire for junk food when cravings strike:

Take a moment to ask why you are craving a specific food. Are you actually hungry or are you bored? Other emotions can make you want to reach for junk food as well.

Examine how you are feeling and talk to someone or write about how you are feeling to deal with your emotions rather than burying them in food. 🙂

2. Distract yourself when a craving hits:

Developing other ways to deal with your junk food cravings is also important to kicking your habit. Go for a walk, play with your pet, call a friend, or work on a creative project. Cravings will usually go away if you distract yourself for about 20-30 minutes.

3. Practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques.

Many people reach for potato chips or candy bars when they are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed.

If you tend to turn to junk food when you are feeling stressed, figure out some alternatives that you can use to help yourself relax. Deep breathing exercises and yoga are great ways to relax.

4. Treat yourself on special occasions.

Just because you want to stop eating junk food, does not mean that you won’t be placed in situations where you may want to allow yourself to indulge.

If you attend a wedding or birthday party, let yourself have a piece of cake. It’s okay to give yourself a treat now and then!

You might even consider designating one day of each week as a “cheat day” so that you can eat some of your favorite foods on that day. Just make sure that you don’t overdo it or you may not feel so great the next day. 🙂


Change in eating habits

change-in-eating-habits

1. Drink plenty of water

Water helps you to feel full and helps balance your blood sugar. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself from reaching for junk food. Staying hydrated with water will also make you less likely to reach for a can of soda or some other type of unhealthy sugary beverage.

2. Eat plenty of healthy food early in the day

The more healthy food you eat early on in the day, the less chance you will binge on junk food later on in the day when your willpower is lower.

Start your day with a big healthy breakfast, have a healthy snack like fruit and yogurt mid-morning, and eat a healthy, hearty lunch.

3. Replace your cravings

If you are genuinely hungry, it’s okay to eat! But, instead of eating cookies or potato chips, make yourself a healthy snack. This can be doubly effective if you can identify your cravings. A particular food craving might point to something lacking in your diet.

A chocolate craving might suggest you need magnesium. Instead, try snacking on natural fruits, nuts, leafy greens, or take a vitamin/mineral supplement.

A craving for sugar or simple carbohydrates (like white bread) might suggest your body needs protein or complex carbohydrates for energy. Carbohydrates break down into sugars. Since sugar metabolizes quickly, it is not a good source of long term energy.

The best sources of energy are protein and complex carbohydrates, which break down more slowly. Good examples include brown or wild long-grain rice.

Pasta or bread made from whole wheat flour are also good options. For protein, nuts, cheese, low-fat milk, beans, or lean meats are good choices

A craving for fried foods might suggest a need for good fats, like Omega 3 fatty acids. Try eating more fish, or check your grocery store for milk, cheese, or eggs containing these oils.

A salt craving might mean you need minerals such as calcium potassium, or iron. You might also need hydration, or vitamin B.

When you desire something salty, try a glass of water. If this doesn’t work, a banana and some yogurt might do the trick.

If you have these cravings frequently, you may wish to try taking a vitamin B supplement

4. Choose healthy snacks

When you do have a snack, try to choose healthy options that satisfy the same snacking desires. For example:

For a salty crunch, try popcorn instead of potato chips. Fresh, air-popped corn is best, but if you opt for microwave popcorn, pick a low fat variety.

If you are craving some candy, try some trail mix with dried fruit and maybe a few chocolate chips. This can be a good source of complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Or, have a little piece of dark chocolate. It’s lower in sugar, and high in healthy antioxidants.

If you want French fries or onion rings, try some lightly salted edamame, which is high in fiber and protein. Or, fix yourself a baked potato for few calories and more fiber.

If you’re dying for some ice cream, try a sorbet or frozen yogurt. These are still high in sugar, so don’t go crazy. But, these options have a lot less fat–often none at all. 😀

5. Avoid snacking in settings that cause you to make bad choices

Some environments have been shown to increase your likelihood for turning to junk food.

For example, if you know that you are more likely to turn to junk food while watching television, have your snack in the kitchen instead. 😀

6. Vary your food choices

Having plenty of variety in your diet will help to keep you satisfied so that you will be less likely to seek out junk food. Pair crunchy items like carrots with something creamy like hummus or peanut butter to add variety into your snacks.

7. Chew sugar-free mint gum when you get a craving for junk food

Chewing on a piece of mint gum will distract you from your craving. As an added bonus, chewing a piece of mint gum will also make anything that you eat after chewing the gum taste kind of weird, so you will be less likely to continue eating it.

8. Buy a cookbook with easy healthy recipes

Knowing how to cook healthy food that you actually want to eat will help keep you from turning to junk food at meal times. If you are new to healthy cooking, buy yourself a cookbook with easy to follow, appetizing healthy recipes.


Manage Cravings

manage-cravings

1. Be mindful

When you experience a food craving, stop for a moment and observe your own thinking and responses. Research shows that taking a moment to stop and recognize your mental and physical state can cause cravings to dissipate.

Stop and ask yourself: why do I want this? What exactly am I feeling right now? This may not always work. But, at least in some cases, pausing to scrutinize your thought patterns can lead to healthier decisions.

It can also help to take a moment to inventory, mentally, what you’ve already eaten that day. Often, this can trigger your brain to feel satisfied, rather than longing for more.

2. Visualize rewards

Other psychological research shows that visualizing desired behavior can help you follow through on it.

Pause for a moment and try to imagine, as vividly as you can, the rewards of making the right decision.

For example, imagine yourself ten pounds lighter, and what you will look and feel like if you consistently eat a healthy diet. 😉

3. Visualize consequences

Similarly, some have suggested the visualizing the negative consequences of bad decisions can help people make good ones.

For example, imagine finding out you have diabetes, or imagine yourself 20 pounds heavier.

This may seem severe. After all, one bowl of ice cream isn’t going to make you diabetic. But, exaggerating the harm of the unhealthy choice can make it less appealing.

Also keep in mind that this is not about shaming yourself. Neither your current nor your appearance is the focus here. Rather, the idea is make the consequences of your decisions vivid. The goal is to help you make good choices, not feel bad about yourself.

4. Postpone, don’t deny your cravings

When you are craving something unhealthy, don’t tell yourself “no.” Instead, tell yourself, “maybe I’ll eat it later.”

Psychological research shows that often, deciding to eat something later on is enough to stop the craving. Chances are, in a short time, the craving will have passed.

By saying “later” instead of “no,” you trick your brain into letting you make the right decision. You can say “no” when you aren’t experiencing the craving anymore.


Change your food environment

change-your-food-environment

1. Clean out your cupboards

One surefire way to make sure you don’t eat unhealthy foods at home is to not have them in your home. If you’re really serious about keeping these foods out of your diet, get rid of them!

You can’t eat what isn’t there. If you eat your meals at home and only have healthy ingredients to prepare them with, that’s all you’ll eat.

2. Keep unhealthy foods out of sight

As the old saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” If you aren’t willing to toss out everything unhealthy, move it so that it is less visible and accessible.

Studies show that people consume candy in transparent containers like glass jars more quickly than candy in opaque containers.

If you keep potato chips in the house, keep them in a closed cupboard.

3. Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach

Research shows that when you go to the grocery store hungry, you are more likely to make impulse buys. This often means unhealthy food.

Try eating a small, healthy snack just before a trip to the grocery store. This will reduce the temptation to make junk food impulse purchases. 😉

Once again, if you don’t buy unhealthy food, you can’t eat it. Go to the store with a full belly and make good choices.

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