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Junk food is addictive. You have to give up sugary foods and the weekend pizzas if you want to get fit. No doubt it is hard when you get inescapable junk food cravings – it is all a physiological reaction. Sugars, salts, fats, and chemicals cause these cravings.
The ingredients of junk foods are specifically balanced to trigger those ‘foodgasm’ moments, which make you want to eat them again and again. The easiest (and the hardest) way to avoid them is to get over with the craving phase and gradually start avoiding them altogether. Include more whole foods in your diet to resist the temptation. Another way is to exercise regularly. When you workout, the body’s metabolism changes and it starts wanting the right nutrients – healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, etc.
Decide what you are going to eat throughout the day and prepare accordingly in the morning or the night before. Having a packed meal for, let’s say, lunch will most likely prevent you from ordering something like a pizza, burger, French fries, or even a dessert. Learn to stop giving in to smells, misleading advertisements, and your colleagues and friends asking you to postpone your resolve just till tomorrow.
Plan your meals for the week on Sunday and make arrangements accordingly – buy groceries and start preparing. For example, prepare large batches of brown rice, roasted veggies, cold salads, etc. Store them in good containers; pack them up in single-serving sizes so that you can pick one whenever you are heading out. Always keep fruit like apples, bananas, oranges, etc. handy for afternoon snacks.
Now, this is equally important. You need to be able to stop yourself from being attracted to the advertisements & marketing gimmicks. Stay in dairy, fresh produce, meat, etc. sections where you will find the real foods. Do not buy outside your list that you prepared before leaving home. Check with the salespersons about the ingredients before buying something new. Now, they will want to sell you everything and you will have to be smart about it too. You can get all the nutrients your body needs from fresh veggies, fruit, whole grains, and high-protein foods. When your body gets the essential nutrients, your cravings start subsiding. It will take a few weeks but it will happen.
More often than not, cravings are triggered by emotions. While you might feel like having some chocolate when your blood sugar is low, you are likely to munch on fried chips, fries, cookies, etc. when you’re stressed or upset about something. Think about what or whether you should eat or drink when you’re not too comfortable with your feelings. While it is hard, you should try to avoid unnecessary eating and do or say what you should.
Taking a walk, running, taking a yoga class near you, meditating, deep breathing, talking to a trusted person, writing, and painting are good ways to manage your stress. You should know that there is nothing wrong with seeking a mental health professional’s help if you’re unable to take care of your stress on your own.
Sadly, not a lot of people get enough sleep. If you eat a lot of junk food, you’re probably one of them. Sleep pattern determines your mood and energy levels; lack of sleep will make you want to have junk food. According to a study, sleep deprivation causes more hunger and reduces the ability to avoid eating appetizing foods.
Therefore, try going to bed earlier every night. You will have to stop eating at least 3 hours before going to sleep. Sleeping on a full stomach can lead to indigestion and therefore, disturb your sleep.
Protein reduces appetite and prevents overeating. It makes you feel full and reduces cravings. A study involving overweight teenage girls showed that consuming more protein, especially for breakfast significantly reduces cravings. In another study, overweight men increased their protein intake by 25% and witnessed significantly reduced cravings in addition to a reduced desire to snack at night. Include beans, nuts, veggies, fish, chicken, etc. in your diet and you will notice a reduced desire for junk food.
Fruits are packed with water, vitamins, antioxidants, and sugar – all essential for the body. Most importantly, they contain fiber, which regulates blood sugar levels and prevents sugar crash. It will take some time for you to get off of manufactured sugar but once you have done that you will enjoy fruits much more. You should grab a few berries or watermelon when you have sweet craving instead of having ice-creams or chocolates.
The body needs fat. So the notion that eating fat makes you fat is a myth. There are several types of fats; the ones to be avoided are trans fats while you should limit saturated fats. Nuts and avocados are examples of healthy fats you should include in your diet because they reduce cravings. When you feel really hungry in the afternoon, have a handful of mixed nuts. You can have fatty fish or guacamole – good sources of healthy, filling fats.
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