Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission from the vendor at no extra cost to you. These business relationships allow us to keep bringing you great EatMoveHack content. All opinions remain our own.
Junk food cravings can be hard to break, especially since many of our favorite snacks have been created with just the right amounts of sugar, salt, and other chemicals. This means that they are designed to make the brain want more of them. There is no denying the harmful impact that junk food can have on your overall health. So, if you are looking to start eating healthier, here are a few tips to help you stop eating junk food.
The Five-Ingredient Rule
Many junk foods are purchased on impulse, and people tend to ignore their ingredient labels. However, a great way to start cutting unhealthy foods from your diet is by reading food labels.
Only consume foods that contain five or fewer ingredients. This simple step will have big results on your food choices.
It will help you to avoid greasy bags of chips with added flavorings or pre-made cookies. This tip will enable you to choose healthier foods.
Break Your Routine
If you reflect on the times of the day when you usually tend to eat unhealthy foods, you will likely notice a pattern here.
Junk food consumption can quickly become a habit. The good news is that it only takes a few weeks to break most bad habits.
If you tend to reach for a chocolate bar every afternoon, mix up your routine a bit. Spend that time heading out for an afternoon walk or keep some healthy snacks on-hand.
Here is a great article on Meal Prep Snacks to Curb Food Cravings. This article will help you have healthy snacks ready when the craving hits.
Snack on Fruits
While fruit does contain sugar, it can be a bridge to help you stop eating junk foods.
Natural Fruit consists of large amounts of vitamins, antioxidants, and water. This composition helps balance out blood sugar levels, preventing a sugar crash.
While fruit may not seem as satisfying as processed snacks, you’ll be surprised. The fiber content of the fruit can make it filling and satisfying once you have weaned yourself off of refined sugar.
Don’t overdo it with fruit, as it does contain sugar, albeit natural sugar.
Pre-Prepare Healthy Snacks
One of the attractions of junk food is that they are so darn convenient.
However, there are several ways in which you can make healthy foods more convenient, and they do not require much time either. Check out our article here for more ideas.
Simply pre-portion items such as peanut butter or hummus. Have bags of carrot sticks or apple slices already cut up in your fridge. That way all you need to do is grab and go whenever you are hungry.
Eat A Healthy Breakfast
If you are choosing to eat breakfast then make sure you have a healthy breakfast.
Studies have shown that skipping breakfast can significantly increase the amount of food that you eat for the rest of the day. This may mean that you are much more likely to be reaching for junk food snacks (now there is a lot of research that also says skipping breakfast has positive health benefits).
If skipping breakfast is a challenge for you, then focus on a healthy breakfast. Try to eat your breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up, as this regulates your glucose levels. Focus on whole and natural foods.
Shop the Perimeter of the Grocery Store
Another simple trick to help you stop eating junk food is to shop the perimeter of the grocery store.
Next time you are in the store pay attention to what lines the outside walls of the store. That is where you find whole foods – vegetables, meat, and dairy.
The inner shelves of the grocery store are usually where you find processed foods. This simple trick will help you make better food choices.
Eat Enough Healthy Fats
The long-held belief that eating “fats” makes you fat, is not accurate. Eating good fat is, not surprising, good for you. However, eating bad fats is bad for you.
So, what are some of the good fats? Think monosaturated fats. Good sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, and most nuts, as well as high-oleic safflower and sunflower oils.
What are the bad fats? Think trans-fat. Where do you find trans-fat? In processed junk food.
Good fats are vital to your health. An added benefit is that they are also very satiating, meaning that you stay fuller longer. This helps reduce the urge to reach for an unhealthy snack.
Eat Enough Protein
This suggestion ties into the healthy fats suggestion above. If you want to stop eating junk food then start eating whole foods.
Natural protein can provide satiety and satisfaction. You can find protein in whole foods that are either animal or plant-based.
For plant-based protein think beans, legumes, tofu, etc.
Protein, just like healthy fats, is necessary for balanced health.
Eat the Rainbow
What’s more boring than a beige wall? Eating beige food all the time.
Striving to eat natural and colorful foods will expose you to a broad variety of flavors and nutrients.
Colorful food is packed with vitamins and nutrients (that’s what provides the color). Vitamins and nutrients are what your body needs. When your body gets what it needs, you are less tempted by junk food.
Change Your Perspective on Junk Food
Reframing your view on junk food could help you stop eating junk food.
It is called “junk food” for a reason. Really, it should not be called food at all. Yes, your amazing body has the ability to process this “food” but that doesn’t mean you should eat it.
Even if you call it “food”, it is qualified by being called junk. The great irony is that if you went to a gas station to fill up your car and were faced with a “junk gas” option you most likely would not choose it. We are more concerned about the gas we put in our car than the fuel we put in our bodies.
Make Small Changes
Moving towards 100% healthy foods can be daunting. Quitting all junk food cold turkey may not yield long-term and sustainable results.
Rather, challenge yourself to make small changes over time. Start with cutting out one type of junk food from your diet.
After a few weeks of that small change, add another small change.
No one can bench press 300 pounds on the first day. It takes training and practice. The same is true for a balanced and complete diet.
Celebrate the Victories
As you can accomplish incremental change, celebrate the journey.
Don’t wait until you are eating exclusively healthy foods. Rather, celebrate the journey of small choices and accomplishments.
Everyone has their own way of celebrating victories. Find one that is meaningful to you and party away (although, if historically that has been through celebrating with junk foods then you will need to consider a new celebration).
Get Better Sleep
I know, easier said than done. But, a good night’s sleep can do wonders for your food choices the next day.
If you sleep poorly then there are enhanced levels of cortisol in your body the next day. Cortisol is the stress hormone. When we are stressed we make less than ideal food choices.
Don’t beat yourself up about it. That is just how our bodies are wired. But, if you understand the process then you are in a better position to take control of your sleep.
Here is an article on Biohacking Your Sleep. Hopefully, this can give you some pointers to help you get a great night’s sleep.
It can definitely be challenging to kick a junk food habit, but the effort will be more than worth it. Start slowly, so that your body can gradually become accustomed to healthier foods, and then build this up throughout the weeks, until you have managed to completely wean yourself off of any junk food.
Here are some more Eat.Move.Hack. articles that can help you on your journey to a healthier diet:
- Lean Body Hacks – The Complete Food Edition Guide
- EMH’s Low Carb & Intermittent Fasting Diet
- A Simple Nutrition Plan for Muscle Gain