Junk food is tempting but can have dangerous consequences. Here are some tips on how to quit snacking on the junk.
- Plan ahead. There is no better way to handle cravings than to plan your meals and snacks ahead of time. If you eat healthy throughout the day, you are less likely to grab some junk food. Try to plan your week’s meals on Sunday, or at least the day before you busy week starts. Use food storage containers to pack serving sizes that you can grab in the morning
- Shop the perimeter. The perimeter of the grocery store typically includes the produce, dairy, meat and fish sections. This is where you find the “real” foods rather than processed foods. Eating from these foods will give your body the nutrients it needs, so your cravings for other foods decreases.
- Eat healthy fats. Your body needs fat. However, there are many types of fats. Avoid trans-fat and limit the amount of saturated fat. Nuts and avocados are heart healthy fats that help you feel full and reduce cravings.
- Eat enough protein. Protein makes you feel full. Look for healthy sources of protein including fish, beans, nuts, lean meats or cheese. If you feel full, there is less desire for junk food.
- Try fruit. Fruit does have sugar, but it also has vitamins, antioxidants, water and fiber. These tend to help balance your blood sugar. If you are craving something sweet, grab a bowl of berries.
- Taste the rainbow. Add new and different foods to your diet. The more varied your diet, the less likely you will get bored and crave junk food.
- Think about junk food differently. A 2013 study showed that when people were trained to look at and interpret one of their most craved junk foods in negative light, their desire for it lessened. Tell yourself you are full, save the item for later, think of the negative consequences of eating the food (weight gain, etc.). The mind is more powerful than you might think!
- Focus on adding healthy foods. Focusing on the positive side of eating healthy is more effective than focusing on the need to remove junk food. The more healthy foods you eat, the easier it will be to crowd out the unhealthy ones.
- Work on stress management. There is almost always an emotional component behind cravings. Consider how you may be eating as a way to alter feelings, procrastinate or distract yourself. Practice redirecting yourself when you feel the urge to reach for food instead of what needs to be done.
- Get more sleep. Lack of sleep can has effects on your mood and energy level, but it also plays a role in junk food cravings. Studies show that sleep restriction resulted in more hunger and less ability to control intake of snacks.
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