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How To Stop Junk Food Cravings And Start Eating Healthy Today

How To Stop Junk Food Cravings And Start Eating Healthy Today

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.[1] 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.

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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.

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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.[2] 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.

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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.

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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

Reference

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Jenny Marchal

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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