10 Tips and Tricks to Stop Eating Junk Food
Heavily processed, chock-full of artificial ingredients, and incredibly unhealthy–junks foods are designed to keep you coming back for more. They’re also loaded with salt and sugar, both of which are bad for you in excess. Learning ways to stop eating junk food can only do wonders for your health.
Junk foods are particularly hard to resist when you’re on a new healthy eating or fitness regime. If your diet comprises of eating junk foods every day, it can be particularly hard to let go.
It’s also important to not beat yourself up over cravings. Cravings are completely normal, and even the best of us sometimes crave less-than-healthy foods. When it comes to a healthy diet, moderation is key, and you’re allowed to treat yourself from time to time.
Tips and tricks to stop eating junk food
As most nutritionists will tell you: healthy eating begins with healthy choices. If you choose junk foods over wholesome foods all the time, your diet is doomed to fail. Fortunately, there are some simple science-backed steps you can follow to stop eating unhealthy foods.
1. Plan your meals
The best way to stop eating junk food cravings is meal planning. Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time, so you don’t have to make impulsive choices when you’re hungry. Habits like packing your lunch the night before and creating meal plans for the week can go a long way in helping you avoid unhealthy foods.
If you’re fridge is stocked with healthy meals that are ready to eat, you’ll be less likely to order a pizza or grab a bag of chips. If you intend to get takeout, decide what you want to eat before you get to the restaurant. If you’re both hungry and undecided, it’s likely you’ll choose an unhealthy food option.
Plan your meals and shop for groceries on the weekend. Prepare your meals the day before your workweek. Preparing large batches of soup, veggies, and rice means will be incredibly useful when you feel too lazy to cook after a long day of work.
2. Keep healthy foods nearby
This is another simple trick to stop eating junk food. Keep healthy snacks in your fridge, at your desk, in your car, and any other place you spend a lot time. Junk foods are easy to dig into and binge on, if you’re not careful. Mixed nuts, pumpkin seeds, crudités, edamame, and popcorn are also excellent options for guilt-free snacks.
3. Know your trigger foods
You may have sweet tooth for cupcakes and brownies, or love savoury foods like fries and crisps. By identifying your trigger foods you can prevent binge-eating. How? By simply not buying these foods and stocking them in your kitchen. But that’s not to say you have to stave off them forever. As an occasional treat, you can go out and get yourself that particular food—as long as you work for it.
4. Chew your food more
That’s all it takes. If you chew more you’ll eat less. Eating slowly and consciously prevents you from overeating because you’re aware of how much food you’re consuming. It also takes 20 minutes for the body to realize it’s full, so the next time you’re eating something healthy and delicious, chew slowly and consciously, instead of stuffing food into your mouth.
5. Get more sleep
You may think you sleep enough, but research shows most people don’t get the required 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep every night. Inadequate sleep can lead to a number of health problems, including high blood pressure and even stroke. But did you know a lack of sleep can also cause cravings for unhealthy foods? A study published in Sleep shows sleep deprivation lead to more hunger and binge-eating tasty snacks.
Fortunately, this has an easy remedy. Turn off your electronics, and turn in to bed a bit early every night.
6. Make healthy grocery shopping a success
The choices you make at the grocery store affect how you eat at home.
Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. Research shows that people who don’t eat for hours before shopping tend to choose more high-calorie and unhealthy foods than those who eat a snack right before shopping. If you go to the grocery store when you’re hungry, you’ll end up with impulse buys like unhealthy ready-meals, crisps, candies, and more.
Shop the perimeter of your local grocery store. Whole foods foods like produce, dairy, meats, and bread, are always stored at the perimeter, while junk foods are kept in the centre aisles. Evade those aisles, except when you have to pick up something essential. Move away from the area once you have what you need.
7. Eat healthy meals throughout the day
Cravings mostly sneak up on us when we’re hungry. Ideally, you should eat three wholesome meals to maintain your energy and metabolism levels, and keep hunger pangs at bay. If you’re feeling full throughout the day, it’s unlikely you’ll feel cravings for sugary, unhealthy foods. Eating complex carbs like whole grains and lean protein like chicken breast can help stabilize your blood sugar levels, and keep your appetite under control.
8. Don’t deny yourself the foods you love
Depriving yourself of the foods you love has never really worked for anyone. We always crave the things we can’t have, and that applies to junk foods as well. If you quit eating junk foods cold turkey, you will, eventually, succumb to your cravings. Reward yourself occasionally, but don’t make it a habit. After a gruelling workout, if you feel like you deserve that brownie—go for it. Don’t tell yourself that you’re never going to eat your favorite foods again. Tell yourself you’ll have the opportunity later. In the meantime, you may just forget about your cravings altogether.
9. Learn how to cook healthy meals
Healthy eating is not just about kale smoothies and oatmeal. Healthy food can be really tasty if you know how to prepare it.
It’s not rocket science—if you appreciate healthy food and know to cook it, you’ll eat more of it. Junk food presents itself as a tempting option for those who can’t cook.
Cooking is a skill, and there’s a vast bank of healthy recipes and instructional videos on the internet to guide you through the process. You’ll learn how to choose healthy ingredients and cook up a hearty meal that will keep those junk food cravings away.
10. Find healthy swaps
Homemade versions of your favourite junk foods are far healthier than what you’d buy from fast food restaurants and supermarkets. Bake foods instead of frying them, use whole grain flour instead of white, replace refined sugar with stevia, and Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
Make your favourite foods using fresh, whole ingredients, and you’ll be able to enjoy them more often!
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