Saturday, April 13, 2013

3 Steps To Stop Eating Junk Food

OK, so you've decided it's time to start losing weight and get in better shape. Maybe you're going to start an exercise routine. Now is when the real problem arises. You are wondering how to stop eating junk food. You love, and have come to rely on it throughout your day.
It feels so good to have some Doritos in the afternoon for your snack. You have a long commute home from work and a donut would satisfy your craving until you get home to have dinner. You're stressed out about a project or personal/family activities and a big bowl of rocky road ice cream will relax you for the night. I know because this described me only a short time ago. Well, it still describes what I'm feeling sometimes but I've finally learned to ignore those cravings.
So, the question, of course, is how to stop eating junk food? There are 3 pieces to my approach:
  1. Control yourself
  2. Trick yourself
  3. Don't give up junk food (huh?)
Now, the details:
Control Yourself
This is going to sound too simple and might not go over well with many people, but I'm going to be blunt. One of the most important things you need to do is exercise self control. Sorry, but if you want to make changes, then... you have to make changes! Sit down in a quiet spot for a little while and really think about the damage this way of eating is causing you and those that you are close to. Do you really want to change the way you feel, the way you look and the way you live life?
If so, you can stop eating the empty, worthless garbage you've been eating all too often. When I finally decided enough was enough and went to my primary doctor to have the standard tests done (cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.), he made a great point. He said it's all in your head. There are a lot of things in life that we might want to do but don't do because we know they're not a good idea, not ethical, etc. The way you behave in regards to your diet should be the same. You may want potato chips, but there's no reason you have to eat them. You can simply say no, I'm not interested.
Trick Yourself by Filling Up on Healthier Foods
One of the best solutions for how to stop eating junk food is to keep yourself full so you have less of a craving to load up on the bad stuff. If you can keep yourself satisfied during the day by regularly eating healthier foods, you'll be much less likely to give into the afternoon craving for chips.
Keep some of the following foods handy to munch on during the day. Some of this requires a very small amount of prep in the morning or the night before, but it's worth it. This is just a small list of ideas and I will be writing more extensive and detailed lists of healthy, good tasting, snack foods soon.
A few ideas:
  • Celery sticks with peanut butter (just a little bit)
  • Carrot sticks or sliced cucumber with low fat ranch dressing for a dip. Notice I did not say fat-free ranch dressing because I've found it to taste pretty bad.
  • A small handful of nuts, such as walnuts or almonds.
  • Sliced apple with peanut butter (just a little bit)
  • Mixed berries, such as strawberries and blueberries
What I do with many of the items above is peel and/or slice them up ahead of time and put them into Tupperware-type containers. In my experience, if you can eliminate the quickness advantage that vending machine foods have over these healthy alternatives, you have a much better chance of eating the "good for you" stuff. Just grab it out of the fridge or cooler when you're hungry and munch away.
Don't Completely Give Up Junk Food
I know, this is about how to stop eating junk food and I'm saying to not give up junk food? Well, it's not exactly how it sounds. Another piece of advice my doctor gave to me was to pick a couple of foods I really like and continue to eat them, just not too often. Let's say filet mignon and rocky road ice cream are your two favorite foods. In moderation, let yourself enjoy a really good filet mignon. Once in a while, scoop yourself a bowl of ice cream.
I really believe this is a good idea. If you indulge every once in a while, you won't feel like you're never going to eat the foods you really love again. You're less likely to hate your new way of eating because you will not feel like you are restricted from everything but low fat foods for the rest of your life.
Also, honestly, life should be enjoyable... and one of the joys in life is really good food. For me personally, never having another juicy, delicious steak for the rest of my life would be pretty depressing. A little bad food here and there is not going to hurt you.
Final Thoughts
As you may or may not know, my mission is not just to eat healthier, but to make it actually taste good. I'm never going to recommend eating alfalfa sprouts and tofu all day, or to not eat any meat, etc. That's just not me. Hopefully these common sense approaches will help you solve the problem of how to stop eating junk food.
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