Junk food is just that: junk. When you habitually consume junk food, you’re loading your body with unnecessary amounts of sugar, fat, salt and chemical food additives. Junk food cravings can quickly kill any weight loss plan, but the drawbacks of eating these foods don’t only have to do with the number on the scale.
Making a habit of consuming potato chips, processed baked goods, sodas and other sugary drinks can have long-term health consequences. Eating a poor diet that is high in fatty, sugary, fried foods puts you at higher risk for depression, digestive issues, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, obesity and even early death. The more frequently you give into junk food cravings, the higher your risk of associated health problems, and the more you’ll crave those same unhealthy foods, creating a cycle that can be difficult to break.
How can you win the battle of junk food versus healthy food and beat those cravings? Here are five tried-and-true tips to help you overcome the temptation to eat unhealthy food.
1. Know what triggers your cravings.
We all have triggers — do you know yours? What are the circumstances surrounding your junk food cravings? Common food triggers include blood sugar imbalance, stress, boredom, emotional factors, hormones and hypoglycemia. The first step to kicking your cravings is to understand what sets them off in the first place.
2. Begin your day with protein.
Eat a high-protein breakfast such as an egg white omelet, protein shake or cup of low-fat Greek yogurt to kickstart your morning and help reduce cravings throughout the day. Protein, along with fiber, helps keep you feeling full so you’ll be less likely to indulge in unhealthy food later in the day.
3. Avoid sugary drinks.
The cravings for junk food and sodas or other sugary drinks often go hand in hand. If you make a habit to avoid sweet drinks that spike your blood sugar and stick to water instead, you’ll probably find it easier to say no to junk food, too.
4. Keep your blood sugar balanced.
The key is to avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes during the day. Make a habit of eating small, healthy snacks frequently throughout the day. A piece of fruit or a handful of nuts or seeds will help keep your blood sugar balanced, preventing a sudden crash that can cause powerful cravings for high-calorie foods.
5. Give yourself a distraction.
Most junk food cravings last about 10 minutes. Find distractions that can help you ignore the craving until it passes. When you feel a craving hit, pick up the phone and make a call, do a quick bodyweight workout, go for a walk, run an errand — anything to keep your mind off food until the craving subsides.
Beat your cravings by using these tips and eating a balanced, nutritious diet every day of the week. Even a having “cheat day” on the weekend can make it harder to say no to your cravings during the week. If you have more questions, contact your bariatric surgeon at First Baptist Medical Center.