Junk food. It literally surrounds us! No matter where you go, you will no doubt find some form of naughty junk food that, at some point or another, you WILL want to demolish. What is junk food? It is food that has little to zero nutritional value, which is usually high in calories, highly processed and normally high in sugar, fat, and/or salt. It is also known for "empty calories" meaning it is giving no nourishment to the body in terms of vitamins, minerals, fibre, healthy fats, water and so on. Whilst I believe it is okay to treat yourself once in a while, whether that be eating a piece of cake for a special occasion or a special dinner with your friends, we should not be consuming junk food on a daily basis. Especially if you are wanting to lose weight or start a new program, such as my Bikini Body Guide.
I know it can be really hard to "quit" your addiction to junk food if you are always used to eating it, or if you constantly have cravings that you end up giving in to. Here are some of my favourite tips on reducing cravings and beating junk food addiction:
Mind Over Matter
A huuuge part of resisting the urge to chow down on junk is mental. So many people use excuses as to why they eat junk food, and the more they believe them, the harder it will be to stop. Some common ones are:
- "If I deprive myself now, I'll just eat more later"
- "I've had such a hard day, I deserve a treat"
- "I'll work it off later"
It's so funny as to how creative we can get with our excuses when we are trying to justify a craving. A better way to look at it is trying to use our powers of persuasion for good, not bad. So if you find yourself justifying things to yourself, turn it around and try to talk yourself out of the temptation. For example "I'll work it off later" can turn into "I'll work out now, and treat myself later". The majority of the time we won't feel like that treat after working out. If you are one of those people that "treats" themselves for "being really good lately", using food as your motivation and prize can also lead you down a path that can wreck your healthy habits. Rather than rewarding yourself with naughty food, try to think about how healthy eating has changed your life so far! Do you feel more energetic? Do your clothes fit better? You can get hooked on the feeling of pride and progress, so try to focus your energy on that rather than the food you think you are "missing" out on. If you continue to make yourself feel upset because you can't eat junk food it will be very hard to resist binging. Instead, turn it around and think about the positive effects cutting junk food has.
Clear Out Your Cupboards
Let's be honest, if you still have that half empty packet of Oreos lying at the back of your pantry, you are going to be tempted to reach for one at some point or another. If the temptation is there, it makes it so much harder to stay on track! Throw out all the junk in your pantry, freezer and fridge and fill it up with wholesome foods that are natural and unprocessed. You should have lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, wholegrain cereals (such as brown rice quinoa, wholemeal pasta) and lean proteins like fish and chicken, as well as yoghurt with no added sugar. Always write down a list of what meals you are going to be eating that week so you can be prepared, and make your healthy snacks the night before. Trust me, this makes a world of difference!
Eat Protein With Each Meal
The reason most junk foods are addictive is because they are filled with sugar. Foods that are filled with sugar cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. This rapid rise promotes the release of high levels of insulin. Blood sugar levels then rapidly fall, which can leave you feeling flat, lethargic and craving more sugar to get that boost again. The reason sugary foods in particular are so addictive is because your brain releases a "feel good" chemical called serotonin when your blood sugar levels are raised, as soon as they fall you are left craving more. As you can see that sweet tooth is a pesky thing that can set you off in a binge eating session very quickly if you are not careful. To curb sugar cravings, I recommend eating some protein with each meal. Protein helps to balance blood sugar levels and keeps you feeling fuller for longer, curbing those sugar cravings. Some ways to add protein into your meals and snacks are :
- Poached eggs on toast
- Seeds and nuts with yogurt and muesli
- Hummus with veggie sticks
- Mixed nuts
- Chicken sandwiches
- Grilled salmon with salad
Avoid The Triggers
A lot of the time what we eat is an emotional thing. If you know there are certain situations or people that cause you to eat bad food, avoid them if you can. For example, if you and a friend always go get take away for dinner and then dessert, try switching it up and maybe make a healthier swap such as sushi or a salad bowl. Alternatively, I love inviting my friends over for dinner, it let's me be creative and I can pick something healthy to cook that everyone ends up loving! Stress eating also plays a big role in curbing junk food addiction. Many people eat when they are stressed or if they are in situations they feel uncomfortable or upset in. If you are one of those people, the next time you want to reach for the bad food, try writing down why. If it is because you feel a certain way, you have identified the problem and majority of the time it is not just hunger. Knowing WHY you crave junk food can be a really good starting point for you to change those habits.
I hope these tips have helped you! Remember girls, it is primarily a mental thing! Prepare yourself for the best by buying wholesome ingredients and readily have healthy snacks available to curb cravings as soon as they begin. Don't forget to treat yourself once in a while but don't use it as an excuse for every time you crave something naughty!