Craving junk food
Having cravings for junk food can be very frustrating when trying to eat a healthy diet. Feeling a sudden urge to forget the salad and instead reach for the chocolate bar, is a feeling most will encounter when transitioning into a healthier lifestyle.
If you are struggling to stay on track with a new diet or finding it hard to kick the guilty cravings, you may wonder if there is a way how to stop eating junk food?
10 ways how to stop eating junk food.
1. Plan meals ahead of time.
Planning what you are going to eat in a day is a great way how to eat less junk food. If you pre-plan and prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as organise a few healthy snacks to have in-between, you will be far less likely to deviate from your diet and indulge in some junk.
2. Eat smaller meals more regularly.
If you find you get most of your junk food cravings between meal times, you may find it easier to switch out the regular big 3 (breakfast lunch and dinner) and opt for a more regular meal schedule. Having 6 smaller meals spaced evenly throughout the day is a great way to avoid feeling hungry and reaching for an easy snack.
Getting enough protein in your diet will certainly help to stop craving junk food. This is because protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer and more satisfied, making you less likely to overeat. Great sources of protein include:
- Red meat
- Nuts and seeds
- Pulses and legumes
4. Include healthy fats.
Dietary fat has a bad reputation, but healthy fats are an incredibly important part of the diet. When trying to eat healthily, a lot of people try and avoid fat at all costs, but this is not necessary and leaves your body without vital nutrients. Having a lack of any nutrients will make your body crave calorie-dense food.
Eating enough healthy fats such as omega 3 will not only suppress cravings, but will also help keep your body healthy as a whole. Healthy fats can be found in:
- Oily fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Olive oil
- Organic dairy
5. Fresh fruit.
Craving something sweet is probably the most common struggle when following a healthy diet. Products containing refined sugars are usually full of calories, and as such should be avoided most of the time.
Fruits can make for healthy alternatives to junk food cravings. Whilst still naturally high in sugar fruit should still be eaten in moderation, although with that being said, when battling a sweet tooth it would be far better to enjoy a handful of berries over a bag of sugary treats.
6. Stay hydrated.
Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, so next time you're feeling peckish and wish to indulge in something you shouldn't, stop and have a big glass of cold water. Rehydrating will fill you up temporarily and might be all you need to tie you over to your next meal. It is recommended that you should drink between 8-10 glasses of liquids per day. Drink more when temperatures rise and when exercising.
7. Reduce stress.
Reducing your stress is an understated way to stop craving junk food. When your mind is full of racing thought, worry and anxiety, it can be difficult to put in the extra effort to always eat healthy meals. A takeaway pizza is always going to be a much more appealing option after a long day at work.
In order to stay focused on your health goals, it is important to have complete mental clarity. To reduce the stress you could try yoga, meditation and getting enough rest. Which brings us onto our next point...
8. Get more sleep.
We spend around 1/3 of our lives asleep, so it's no wonder that it plays such a vital role in our well-being. Getting enough sleep will have you energised and motivated for the next day ahead, making it easier to make conscious food choices. It is recommended that adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
9. Eat a wide variety of foods.
Eating an array of different foods will keep mealtimes varied and exciting, as well as nutritionally balanced. Eating the same sort of meals every day can become very boring and mundane so switch it up when possible. Having a go at cooking healthy foods outside of your regular diet can be delicious, challenging and fun, making healthy eating more enjoyable.
10. Try mindfulness eating.
Mindfulness eating is a practice that purposely slows you down and allows you to focus on what you're putting in your body. To eat mindfully first study what you are about to eat. Note the colour, the texture and how it smells, try describing everything you can about it. Then put it in your mouth and do the same, note the flavour and how it feels in the mouth, etc. When you swallow focus on the mouthful travelling down your body, picture it inside of you ready to be used as fuel.
Mindfulness eating is a calming and slow way to eat. Doing it periodically can teach you how to train your brain to crave healthy foods by learning to appreciate all foods and their flavours.
Healthy alternatives to junk food.
When you're craving something like junk food, instead of diving straight into eating something unhealthy, pause and have a think for a moment and see if there are any alternatives that will satisfy you.
For every food that you are trying to avoid, there is usually a healthy junk food alternative. When craving something salty such as crisps, have something pickled like gherkins. If you're after a big cheeseburger, opt for the burger to be bunless and swap out the cheddar for a lower-fat cheese such as halloumi. And if you're hanging for a chocolate bar and simply can't go without, have a few squares of dark chocolate of at least 70%.
Healthy alternatives to junk food cravings.
Sometimes the best thing to do when you're having a junk food craving is to step away from thoughts of food and do something completely different. Breaking the routine of eating, being full, getting hungry again and craving something unhealthy can be all it takes to stop the cravings altogether.
Next time you get a junk food craving try:
- Going on a short walk.
- Reading a few pages of a book or magazine.
- Listening to your favourite song.
- Having a phone-call with a friend or family.
Anything that will distract you momentarily, might be all it takes to suppress your cravings until you can enjoy your next healthy meal.