Junk food is addictive. More often than not, it is also the easier option when your mid-day cravings start to hit and you cannot wait to prepare a healthier alternative. Unfortunately, food manufacturers make a point of creating foods that ignite a cycle of addiction in their consumers, which is also known as the “bliss point.” Giving in to your cravings might seem inevitable, but the truth is that there are ways to resist the call of the salty, sweet, and fatty flavors of your favorite unhealthy snacks.
Below is a list of some helpful tips that can help you stave off your junk food cravings:
- Plan ahead: It is incredibly easy to fall prey to junk food cravings if you never plan your meals and snacks ahead of time. Fight your cravings by preparing better options for yourself. If you have your snacks and meals packed and ready for lunchtime, you likely will not be too include to grab a pizza, order French fries, or nibble on the sweets in the office. Start planning the week’s meals on Sunday, before the workweek begins. Do not shop on an empty stomach and only buy what you need. Need an easy snack? Keep fruits like bananas, oranges, and apples on your desk, so you have something healthy to take a bite out of in the afternoon.
- Shop the perimeter: Generally, the perimeter of most grocery stores include healthy food items, such as produce, dairy, meat, and fish. If you shop the perimeter, you can safely avoid most highly processed foods and, as a rule of thumb, if you notice that a food item has more than a few ingredients on its label, it might be best to bypass it. With whole foods like fresh vegetables, fruit, grains, and proteins, your body will be able to get all the nutrients it needs and start to crave junk food less overtime.
- Eat healthy fats: Anytime anyone hears or sees the word “fat,” they immediately shy away from it and assume it is bad for you. The fact is, however, that your body needs some fat. While you should avoid bad fats like trans fats and limited saturated fats, you should incorporate healthy fats, like what you might find in an avocado or nuts, which can leave you feeling fuller and reduce bad cravings. Even eating a fatty fish like salmon is an excellent way to add healthy, filling fats to your diet.
- Eat more protein: Protein fills you up more than any other macronutrient and it is incredibly good for you. Consider some of the following sources of protein: fish, beans, vegetables, and nuts. When you are full on protein, there is less room and less of a desire for junk food that provides no nutritional value.
- Have some fruit: We already mentioned that fruit is a great healthy alternative when it comes to reaching for a mid-day snack. After all, most fruits are packed with vitamins, antioxidants, water, fiber, and are excellent for preventing a sugar crash. If your favorite junk foods are sweets and candy, fruit is a great way to wean yourself off of that bad habit.
- Manage your stress: Food cravings often have an emotional component to them. Perhaps your blood sugar is low and you need an energy boost or you are angry or stressed, driving you to reach for a bag of Doritos. If this sounds familiar, chances are you are no stranger to eating or drinking your feelings in an attempt to distract yourself or procrastinate. Try to redirect your emotionally-driven cravings toward a healthier act, such as walking, yoga, meditation, painting, chatting with a friend, or writing in a journal.
- Sleep more: Many of us do not get nearly as much sleep as we should and you are probably acutely aware of the effects of not being well-rested. As we all know, not getting enough sleep can have a major impact on one’s mood and energy level. What you might not know is that sleep restriction also results in hunger and a decreased ability to control the desire to snack. Make an effort to get more sleep and the likelihood of you reaching for an unhealthy snack will decrease.
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