Junk Food is Addictive
It happens to the best of us. We are at the office, gym, or on campus for a class and our stomach grumbles in protest. We did not bring any food with us, so we have to buy something to satisfy our hunger. A vending machine is just a few steps away (or maybe there’s a fast food restaurant across the street) and everything inside looks good. It is an honest moment of weakness if it happens once in awhile, but for some people, it happens every day.
Junk food is highly addictive.
Let’s face it, we love it! Our bodies crave foods that are high in calories and fat which is one reason junk food looks so good to us. However, a bag of potato chips is full of empty calories and saturated fat and leaves us feeling run down and generally not well. Not all calories are the same and the calories found in sweets and fast food are not the ones our body wants. Calories we fill our bodies with need to be filling and nutritious to keep our bodies working optimally. Junk food is made from simple carbohydrates and sugars. This gives us a rush of energy for a short period of time and then sends us crashing down, making us more tired than before and our bodies crave more food. Good calories last longer, wear off slowly, and usually come with essential vitamins and minerals. Cutting out junk food or at least eating less of it is something most Americans need to do to be healthy.
A junk food detox can be very hard for someone who has needs a daily fix. The hardest part is breaking the habit. Humans are habitual creatures and need some form of routine in their lives. Cravings for certain junk food can make the process harder, especially if those foods are within easy reach. The hard work needed to defy junk food needs a big reward to be worth it. Luckily the benefits are long term and you should notice them almost immediately. You will have more energy in the day and be able to focus more. Healthy eating is linked to lowering stress, easing sleep difficulties, and improving mental health overall. One of the most well known ways of managing mental illnesses like ADHD or Depression is to cut out junk food. Eating healthier obviously stimulates weight loss, but even if you are not out to lose weight, your body will use the extra nutrients to build healthy muscle.
Are you partial to sweet or salty foods?
So how does one stop eating junk?
The first step is to not allow yourself an excuse to eat junk. Take time in the morning to pack a full and nutritious lunch. If you don’t have time in the morning, pack it before you go to bed that night. Keep a bag of baby carrots in the company refrigerator in case you forget to pack your lunch or have to work late. Put some non-perishable snacks like dried fruit or whole wheat crackers in your bag or stash them in your car for days when life gets the best of you. With this much healthy food around, there’s no excuse to eat junk. Let your friends and coworkers know that you have cut out junk food so they don’t tempt you. Nothing makes one give into temptation faster than the offer of a free latte.
The second step is figuring out what our body needs to keep us from wanting junk food. Foods that are high in fiber like beans and whole grains help keep you full throughout the day. The healthy fats found in nuts, avocado, and olive oil help fight cravings because they give the body the real fat it needs throughout the day. Start your morning with a high fiber breakfast to keep your stomach full and give yourself lots of fuel to burn at the start of the day. Fresh fruit can give you a burst of Vitamin C to instantly turn you into a morning person. For lunch, you are going to need a lean protein to finish out the day strong. Fish or beans are a great choice and work well wrapped in a whole grain tortilla. Drink plenty of water as it keeps the body full and helps flush toxins out of the body. Add a slice of lemon to it for a refreshing flavor. Don’t forget to exercise! With all of this going on in our head, who has time to go to the vending machine?