Junk food is one of those things that are hard to quit. With its sweet or salty taste, junk food can be difficult to resist.
Of course junk food leads to weight gain and can leave your body lacking in vital nutrients.
But DIETING, which is how most people react to junk food weight gain, is the WRONG answer.
Dieting appears to work. But then you get food cravings for junk food which you can only resist for so long …
Soon, you end up eating even more junk food than you did before dieting!
So how do you stop eating junk food without falling into the trap of dieting?
If you can shift your relationship to junk food, you’ll feel better about yourself. You’ll also have a healthier lifestyle.
This article will explain the mindset you need to shift your relationship to junk food. All without giving up the sugary stuff!
Let’s talk about the crucial mindset first. This will give us a solid foundation to learn how to stop eating junk food.
Then we’ll give 7 health and wellness tips you can use to manifest this mindset into reality!
The Key Mindset – Focus On Eating More Of The Healthy Stuff
In a study published in the prestigious journal ‘Nutrients’, scientists found adding healthy foods was a better way to eat less of the unhealthy stuff.
Let’s be clear:
This study looked at eating MORE of the healthy stuff. People could still eat the junk food, but they ate the healthy stuff first!
When you eat the ‘healthy’ stuff first several things happen.
First you end up getting more vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber. Even more water too!
What happens when your body’s gas tank is filled up with vitamins and other good ingredients?
Well, you end up ‘crowding’ out the craving for unhealthy food without even trying!
Following this general strategy, you do NOT focus on what you SHOULDN’T eat.
Instead, you focus all your mental energy on the 7 following supplemental strategies!
1 – Eat Protein and Fat At Least 3x Each Day
- Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner.
- When you eat these meals, have protein and fat for each meal.
I know there’s much buzz with intermittent fasting these days.
But if you are having crazy food cravings then you need to backtrack and start at square 1.
Well, breakfast, lunch, and dinner with protein and fat at each of these eating times is square 1!
See, your body is like a car.
You need to fill your tank with gas (or, for your body, protein and fat) before you can go on a road trip (or, for your body, feel energetic and ready to do a lot).
If you don’t have any fuel, then how do you expect to get anywhere?
It’s not going to happen.
Now, it is true that you can diet or fast and see temporary weight loss, but the key word here is ‘temporary’.
Because in due time the car crashes when it runs out of fuel! And in human terms, you WILL binge if your stomach doesn’t get enough nutrition.
So here’s a great health and wellness tip to take to heart: eat some food that has plenty of protein and fats in them!
And eat these proteins and fats AT LEAST every day during breakfast, lunch and dinner. At the least!
Benefits of regularly eating protein and fat each day:
- You will not be hungry as often
- This means you don’t have to eat junk food because you’re starving!
- Your mood and energy levels will improve
- You’ll feel less tired, stressed, or anxious. And more calm and happy too!
- You’ll lose fat faster if that is your goal for weight loss (which is what it should always be)
- Protein provides the building blocks of muscle tissue. A diet higher in protein also reduces hunger throughout the day.
- Protein slows down how our stomach empties after a meal. This makes us crave less sugary food between breakfast, lunch, and dinner times!
2 – Plan Your Day Ahead
Eating a hearty amount of food 3x a day to reduce your junk food cravings takes planning ahead!
If you don’t know what you’re going to have for the next meal, then it’ll be more difficult to say no to food cravings.
So plan your day ahead and you will experience less temptation!
This is easier for me personally when I’m journaling my meals. But if that isn’t something you want to do, then at least take a minute of two to think about what you’ll eat the next day.
You can write it in your planner, notebook, or on a post-it note so it’s easy to access all throughout the day.
It’s really important to plan your day ahead. Otherwise it’s too easy to forget!
When we forget about our hunger then there is nothing left other than thinking “I really want some ice cream,” which may mean giving into temptation.
So keep your thoughts organized by planning out what you’ll have tomorrow.
3 – Try New Flavors
One of the main reasons people get junk food cravings is because they get bored with eating healthy or don’t think healthy food can taste good!
Then they find themselves craving the excitement of junk food.
Well, trying new flavors will help you reduce food cravings in more ways than one!
A lot of times, people get junk food cravings because they don’t know how to fill up on healthy foods.
These eating habits are not good for blood sugar! Trying new flavors will FORCE you to figure out new healthy foods that you enjoy and will help out those blood sugar levels too.
The trick is trying new flavors so that your body gets used to the taste. Then you have more enticing options to fill up! Then sugary food becomes less appealing when you’re feeling out of control.
If some fruits or veggies are too boring for you, try adding in peppers or ginger!
These will turn an otherwise bland meal into something savory and exciting. Plus, these flavors have been shown to reduce appetite by triggering hunger-suppressing hormones.
I know it might sound silly to try new flavors.
But really stop and think for a second … What if you had an appetite for healthy foods?
And why aren’t you eating more of these healthy foods right now?
If you try new flavors, then you can come back to the healthy foods you got bored with and try to see them in a new light.
This is an important piece in learning how to stop eating junk food!
4 – Get Started With Fruit
Look, we all have a sweet tooth.
Fruit can be a great and healthy way for you to satisfy your sweet tooth!
Now a lot of people don’t like eating fruit because they think it’s too messy. Ever wonder why candy comes in neat little plastic wrappers?
But, really all you need to do is cut up your favorite fruits into bite-sized pieces and put them on a plate!
No longer will that fruit be so unappetizing once it’s in the palm of your hand – ready for consumption.
Fruit also helps with digestion. This is because fruits contain fiber which helps you break down food better.
While it’s true fruit does have sugar, the fiber from the fruit makes the sugar dissolve slower than when you eat junk food.
Plus, the sugar found in fruit is natural, whereas the sugar found in candy and other junk is artificial.
Artificial sugar is often in the form of high fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners. These are way more addictive than the sugar found in fruits!
Fruits are great at giving our body an energy boost due to their carbohydrate content. Even though these carbohydrates come from natural sugars!
Fruits will give your body an instant pick-me-up especially if you’re feeling tired from working too hard!
(If you have diabetes you may need to worry about blood sugar levels and fruit. But diabetes aside, eating fruit is a great substitute!)
So have some bananas, oranges or apples (or other fruit) and dig in!
What Fruits Should I Eat To Reduce Sugar Cravings?
And … I can see you already wondering what fruits are the best so here’s a quick breakdown!
- Fruits with higher sugar content (e.g., berries) are great for a quick energy boost. But they also have the highest calorie count so it’s best to eat them in small portions or as part of a meal rather than on their own!
- Bananas can be quite tempting because they’re always available at most grocery stores. But I would say they should only be eaten sparingly due to the amount of natural sugar present in one banana.
Because fruits are overall great to eat just take a look at this image and go for your favorite ones!
5 – Feel Content After Eating
All these health and wellness tips we’ve covered so far will FAIL if you don’t feel content after you finish eating.
Have you started to crave junk food when you weren’t even hungry?
Have you ever binged BECAUSE you tried to eat healthy but weren’t satisfied afterwards?
Well, this is why you must feel content after you finish eating if you really want to stop eating crappy foods.
Here’s how you can feel more content WHILE eating:
- Focus on eating slowly and deliberately so you can feel every bite in your mouth
- Think about how the food smells, tastes, and feels as it goes into your stomach.
- Imagine the nutrients going through your bloodstream to provide energy for all your body’s processes.
But the really key thing is to FEEL content AFTER you eat:
A feeling of being content after eating can be described as:
- full, but not too full (so you can still move without feeling weighed down)
- snug, secure
- Neutral (not nauseous or hungry but not stuffed either)
Here’s one final thing about feeling content.
If you TRULY do FEEL content after eating, then you will NOT think about food. You will NOT crave junk food, at least until you’re getting hungry again!
In evolutionary terms, feeling content signals your body it’s time to ‘Rest and Digest’.
Instead of thinking endlessly about the calories of junk foods, the feeling of content makes you NOT worry about food.
If you find yourself thinking about food right after meals, that’s a sign you are NOT feeling content.
And if you aren’t feeling content? Then try adding in more protein and fat and getting even more variety!
Finally, if you just eat junk processed foods, then you won’t feel content anyways and will just want more processed foods!
Plus, be sure you …
6 – Stay Hydrated
What about just drinking more water?
I know you’ve heard this tip before. But I hope this post helps you see this whole discussion on eating junk food in a different light.
You don’t and should NOT focus on cutting out junk food.
Again, trying to exercise willpower in this way will fail and just lead to binge eating.
A better approach is to focus instead on GETTING MORE healthy foods to eat.
Basically, you should worry about getting MORE of the good stuff!
And in line with this thinking … is getting more water!
Don’t think that you are ‘missing’ out on sodas. Again, you can still have sodas if you’d like! Just have a glass of water first!
Here are tips on staying hydrated:
- Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning
- Keep a water bottle handy and drink at least 6-8 cups a day.
- Drink a glass of water before you have coffee, fruit juice or soda
7 – Get 7+ Hours Of Sleep
Sleep is the glue that holds all these tips together!
Here’s how sleep can help you eat less junk food:
- Sleep helps you feel less hungry
- Your brain can’t process information when you’re tired, so if you don’t sleep well it’ll be harder to resist temptations when you’re awake
- And finally, your body produces more ghrelin (the hunger hormone) when you’re sleep-deprived
So get at least seven hours of sleep a night!
If you have trouble falling asleep:
- Try reading something boring (like a dictionary or phone book) before bedtime. This encourages drowsiness without overstimulating and upsetting your brain with an emotional storyline
- Use lavender essential oils (which are mildly sedating)
- Drink chamomile tea about 30 minutes ahead of bedtime
- Use an eyepatch to block out light
- Use white noise to block out random noises from outside
- Take a hot bath before bedtime
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark
- And make sure you’re getting enough exercise as this will boost serotonin levels, which can help regulate sleep patterns.
So how do you get started on a new relationship with junk foods, one where you ultimately learn how to stop eating junk foods with wild abandon? There are a few simple steps to follow.
Remember the key mindset is to focus on eating more healthy foods!
Make sure that you’re including protein-rich foods and healthy fats in each meal or snack. Plan your day ahead to make sure you do this.
Keep an eye on what flavors you’re craving most often. Try out some different varieties–maybe even pick up something completely different like fruit!
Make sure you feel content after eating too!
Finally, stay hydrated throughout the day. Drink enough water before bed so that your body can flush away any toxins.
Oh, and get some sleep too! I hope this blog post has helped you learn how to stop eating junk food! Leave a comment below.
Which of these steps will be most helpful to you in learning how to stop eating junk food?
Thanks for sharing such a good article i m foody person and want to control my diet.you given tips are really good i will flow thx again
Thanks so much Asma, your positive feedback means a lot!!!
i eat junks food too much
I hear ya
the tips you have shared in this article really are useful. I was a binge eater of junk food myself. slowly I adopted some of the habits you have mentioned and now once in blue moon, I crave junk food.
Oh. My. God. LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I had no idea that sleeping 7+ hours would help you manage your weight. It's really interesting that your body produces more of the hunger hormone when you are tired. I have been trying to fix my relationship with junk for a long time and I think that this article will help me!
Lovely to hear Beverly, sounds like you had an Eating Enlightenment moment!! Woot Woot! Just where you realize something useful 😉 Keep me posted on how things go … remember that sleep is one piece of the puzzle …