We all know junk food is unhealthy for us but all still we crave it. The obesity epidemic has highlighted the perils of eating high-fat and high-sugared foods with heart disease, high blood pressure and other ailments, such as diabetes, on the rise from the over-consumption of junk food.
So why do we crave foods that are so bad for us? Scientific research has shown that it’s down to two factors – the first is the sensation of the food, including the taste, smell, and often the texture of it in the mouth. Companies will go above and beyond to find the perfect level of crunch, smoothness, and fizziness that will send our brains into junk food heaven and get us buying it again and again.
The second factor is the perfect combination of sugar, fat, and salt. The right blend will get the chemicals in your brain excited and wanting more, hence the addictive quality that junk food possess.
Ways To Kick Your Junk Food Habit
Whether you eat junk food on a daily basis – soda, sweets, crisps, chocolate, or even just the occasional treat – there are effective ways to stop and re-route yourself to a much healthier diet.
1. The 5 Ingredient Rule
This is a good way to filter out the processed foods from the more wholesome healthy ones. Whatever you eat, make sure it doesn’t have more than five ingredients in it. Check the labels carefully and dismiss anything that has a long list of contents, especially if you’ve never heard of a lot of them!
Consider cooking your own version of a dish so you know exactly what is going into it and avoid high-sugar and high-fatty ingredients.
2. Get To Know Your Trigger Foods
We all have our trigger foods – the ones that we can’t help but gorge ourselves on. The problem with this is that it can lead us down a slippery slope of wanting more and more. When we know our trigger foods are in the house then we know they’re always there waiting for us to eat. And because of our junk food addiction, it’s even harder to stay away from them because they are conveniently in our reach.
Make sure you identify your cravings and make an effort to not buy those foods to keep them out of the house. If they’re nowhere near you, you can’t eat them!
3. The 3 Colour Rule
Another tactic you can use is the three colour rule. A study showed that three food items on the plate together with three different colours (M&Ms don’t count!) actually makes children desire the food more. The more natural colours you can find in your food, the better it is. So instead of reaching for the chocolate bar, choose mixed nuts or a colourful plate of fruit to get more variety and therefore more nutrients in your diet. This is especially helpful for when you’re snacking since it is where a lot of our calories are mindlessly taken in.
4. Change Your Routine
It’s very easy to get into a routine of snacking on junk food. We can get used to having that bag of crisps at 11am to tide us over or a chocolate bar at 3pm to keep our energy up. Breaking these little habits are the key to reducing our addictive cravings. When you feel the need to have your usual unhealthy snack, go for a five-minute walk or do something different that will take your mind off visiting the vending machine.
It usually takes around 30 days to establish a new habit so persevere and you’ll soon notice your cravings stop.
5. Strategically Position Healthy Foods
Having more healthy options in direct view will train your brain into picking these over junk. So position the healthier foods in the front and centre of your fridge so when you open it, this is what you see as a first option. Keep a fruit bowl on the counter-tops so they’re easily accessible. Prep some snacks ahead of time, such as hummus and raw carrots, so that you have quick and easy options to reach when you’re needing that pick-me-up.
It’s important to form habits in order to conquer our junk food cravings and addictions. Making healthy eating more of a lifestyle and creating a mindset where the occasional junk food is a treat rather than a way of life is the key to our health, happiness, and well-being.
Featured photo credit: tookapic via pexels.com
|||^||James Clear: Why Humans Like Junk Food|
|||^||Cornell Chronicle: Kids prefer lots of choices and colors on their plates|