Breaking Your Junk Food Habit

That soft, pillowy doughnut drizzling with glaze. The delightful fizz of a soft drink. The savoury satisfying crunch of potato chips. If these foods are making a regular appearance in your diet, it’s time to try to nip this habit in the bud.

Research has shown that junk food, that is food that’s high in salt, sugar and fat, can be addictive. But weeding it out of your diet is possible if you approach it with a smart plan that will make it an easier go.

Identify your triggers
Start by first keeping a food diary and taking notes on when and what you eat and how you were feeling at the time; it may uncover some patterns you were unaware of. It may reveal that you run to get a sweet treat in the middle of the morning when you start to feel tired, or that the bulk of your binging on junk happens late into the evening. Knowing what causes you to go for junk food will help you find a solution (such as preparing yourself a more filling wholesome breakfast, for example, to ward off the need for a 10:30 a.m. danish).

Stock your kitchen with healthy foods
If can be hard to resist a bag of cheesies when they’re in your pantry. Fill your fridge and cupboards instead with wholesome foods that will provide you with nutrients and minerals instead and you’ll have a greater chance of improving what you consume.Snacking on foods that have fibre and healthy fats will help keep you from feeling hunger pangs and ward off cravings for the unhealthy packaged foods.

Find other ways to relieve stress
When we are feeling stressed, our resolve to stick to healthy choices diminishes and we crave the comfort of devouring something like a poutine. Finding other methods to manage your stress will help alleviate your need to grab that bad-for-you snack, whether it’s meditation, taking a brisk walk, painting or going to work out at the Crossfit gym.

Train your tastebuds
Much of the sugar we consume comes from the beverages we drink. Over time, work on using less and less sugar in your coffee or tea, for example, or by diluting your fruit juices with water. Do so gradually and the lowered sweetness will become more palatable. You may even find that eventually, drinking the beverage in the same way you used to a month or two ago (with the full sugar in it) will taste overly sweet for you.

Don’t be too hard on yourself
Having the occasional junk food is fine and knowing that will make it more manageable for you to change your eating habits than if you were to cut all of these snacks out of your diet. You may find that you’ll be more selective about a quality food item, though, and that only a small portion will suffice. For example, before you may have regularly bought packaged cookies at the grocery store and eaten a 10 cookies in one seating daily. Once you’ve refined your junk-food habits (and changed what your palate craves), you may opt for one fresh-baked cookie from a bakery as your indulgence once a month.

Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Flare, Elle Canada and ElleCanada.com, Glow, Metro, Huffington Post Canada, Travelife and Travel + Escape. She also runs her blog, HealthandSwellness.com, where she writes about health, beauty, fitness and lifestyle.

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