Do you ever find yourself craving junk food? You know, the kind of food that is high in sugar and fat, but low in nutrients.
We all have our vices. But if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight, then cravings for unhealthy foods are likely sabotaging your efforts.
In this blog post, I’m going to share with you the top 3 reasons why you crave unhealthy food and how to stop eating junk food!
But first…I want to share with you some of the benefits of eliminating junk food from your diet.
The Benefits Of Eliminating Junk Food
Some benefits of eliminating junk food from your diet, besides losing weight, include:
- You will sleep better
- You will have more energy
- You will boost your immune system
- Your blood sugar will stabilize
- Your skin and hair will look and feel a lot better
- You won’t age as quickly
- You will reduce your headaches
- You will reduce your risk of chronic health issues
Now let’s talk about how you can stop yourself from craving junk food so that you can lose weight once and for all!
1. Examine Your WillPower
The first step on your weight-loss journey should be to recognize why you continue to eat and crave junk foods.
First, I want to say to you it is not your fault. The desire for sugar and fat, or in other words junk food, is part of being human.
Junk food provides us with energy, the energy that would have been very useful in the hunter-gatherer days for survival.
However, that doesn’t mean that we should throw our hands up and use that as an excuse to eat all the junk food we want.
We are still responsible for taking control of our willpower.
Having willpower is not just a matter of choosing yes or no.
The science goes much deeper than that and understanding it will help you make better choices. So, let’s talk about exactly just that…
It All Begins In The Brain
To be more specific, the prefrontal cortex. This region of the brain plays a role in our decision-making and impulse control. Need I say more!
So what can cause of prefrontal cortex to mess with our willpower? Here are a few: being sleep deprived, being distracted, and being drunk.
If for example, you are not getting enough sleep at night; you are more likely to make poor food choices and dig into that bag of chips.
Your Heart Rate Variability Matters
According to Harvard Medical School, heart rate variability (HRV) is “simply a measure of the variation in time between each heartbeat”. But what does this have to do with our willpower?
Believe it or not, if you increase your HRV you are also more likely to increase your willpower.
When you increase your HRV, your breathing rate drops, you relax and have better self-control for deciding if to buy junk food at the grocery store.
And what affects your HRV? Anxiety, loneliness, and pain among others. So if you are experiencing any of these feelings, that could be the reason you have little willpower. Crazy, right?
3,500 Choices Per Day
Yes, you read that right, that’s how many choices we make per day on average according to Psychology Today. Well, no wonder we fall into temptation so often!
Our willpower is being tested all time, including the times when we must choose to eat junk food or not! It is important that you know this, so that next time you are more likely to make the right decision!
What’s worse is that there are studies that suggest that our willpower is limited. Our willpower depletes as the day goes on and we become more tired.
The good news is that it can get easier. Your willpower is like a muscle, and the more you exercise it, the easier it becomes to resist the temptations.
I have a friend at work who is vegan. She often brings vegan brownies to work, and just leaves them out in the staff lounge for anyone to grab.
I used to get excited every time I would get to work in the mornings and see them on the table. I couldn’t wait to eat my vegan brownie with a cup of coffee. Just the smell of chocolate made my saliva turn into water. It was a real treat!
When I made the decision that I needed to lose weight, I told myself I needed to stop eating the brownies. In the beginning, it was really hard.
Every time I would go to the staff lounge to get water or tea, I would see them. They would call me and say “eat me, eat me!”
But each time this happened, it got a little easier and easier. Now I still see the brownies at work, but it doesn’t hurt anymore not to eat them.
The temptation is not nearly as strong. I trained my willpower muscle, and it has definitely strengthened big time.
You need to give it a shot, too. With so many food choices we must make in a day, being able to say “NO” to junk food by building up our willpower muscle is super important.
Your Emotions Are Getting The Best Of You
Your willpower is also tied to your emotions.
Some people turn to food because they feel lonely, exhausted, bored, apprehensive, stressed, furious, depressed, or fearful.
Often, these negative emotions can cause overeating and cravings for unhealthy comfort foods.
Sure, eating may make you feel happy and help you forget about something unsettling going on in your life at the moment, but it will undoubtedly be temporary.
The feelings that caused the eating in the first place will still be there.
In fact, you may end up feeling even worse than you did before because of the unnecessary calories you have just eaten.
Poor eating habits can be a symptom of a much deeper emotional issue.
Understand your behaviors and your emotional eating triggers. Learn to eat mindfully rather than mindlessly. Eventually, you can break the insidious pattern.
I believe that you’re capable of making a positive change. There are many healthy ways to cope with your emotions and fight temptations.
The bottom line is: learn to deal with your feelings head-on, don’t numb them with foods.
Know that you have more power over your food cravings than you ever thought possible.
By being able to control your emotions, you will also have more control of your willpower.
2. Your Body Is Contaminated
Food addiction is very much like drugs, alcohol, and gambling addictions. But seriously, why is junk food incredibly addictive?
Answer: Eating highly refined, processed foods leads to the rapid production of insulin. When insulin levels in the blood go up, your blood drives amino acids into your muscles.
Only because certain junk food is plant-based, doesn’t mean that it is not a highly refined, processed food.
Once the concentration of tryptophan (an amino acid) is enhanced in connection with other amino acids, it is driven across the blood-brain barrier, where it interacts with a protein in the pleasure receptor zone of the brain and activates the production of serotonin (a contributor to feelings of well-being and contentment).
This is why unhealthy processed foods such as junk food can be extremely addictive!
Every time you experience the pleasure effect from eating junk food, it’s very tempting to want to repeat the behavior over and over again.
Therefore, if you don’t detox from a junk-food addiction, these unhealthy foods can really sabotage you and hold you back from reaching your weight-loss goals.
Cleaning Out Your Palette
According to Dr. Neal Barnard, addictive foods, like cheese, sugar, and chocolate all have chemical compounds that activate the brain’s secretion of chemicals like dopamine.
Dopamine makes you feel pleasure when you eat junk food.
However, consuming junk food is linked to chronic disease. In addition, they make your tissues become inflamed, narrow your blood vessels, cause your blood pressure to rise, and more.
Therefore, in order to avoid any health issues as a consequence of eating junk food, the first step we need to take is to clean out our palette.
When you stop eating junk food, your palate will adapt to your new diet. In fact, unhealthy foods will start to taste too salty, or too sweet, and eventually, you won’t think they taste nearly as good anymore.
But in order for this to happen, the body needs to get rid of toxins through the liver, kidneys, sweat, intestines, lungs, skin, urine, and lymphatic system.
When you don’t get rid of the contaminants in your body, these vital systems work too hard and are compromised, contaminants aren’t thoroughly purified, and the body is harmfully affected.
Nowadays food is so jam-packed with chemical preservatives and additives that our bodies do not even recognize or know how to process them.
Toxins are from many sources such as: water, air, foods, cleaning products, medication, technology, stress, poor eating habits, bad lifestyle choices, and so forth.
If you experience symptoms, such as headaches, brain fog, fatigue, allergies, asthma, reflux, acne, irritated skin, bloating, menstrual problems, and irritable bowel, then starting a detox could solve all these annoying problems.
“Detoxification works because it addresses the needs of individual cells, the smallest units of human life,” says Peter Bennett, N.D., co-author of 7-Day Detox Miracle with Stephen Barrie, N.D., and Sara Faye.
Bennett recommends that everybody should detox at least once a year.
A word of caution, children, nursing mothers, and patients that have chronic degenerative diseases, cancer or tuberculosis must consult their physicians or healthcare practitioners to find out if detoxing is right for them.
In a nutshell, getting your body rested, nourished, cleansed can result in a wide range of positive effects, such as protecting against many diseases and renewing your ability to prolong optimum health.
3. Junk Food Calls For More Junk Food
What is addiction? Addiction is when our bodies have become accustomed to a noxious agent.
Say, if you drank 6 cups of energy drinks every single day, you would feel on top of the world, but if you try to quit the habit, you would get withdrawal headaches.
The same goes with processed food that is high in preservatives, calories, salt, sugar, and fat.
If you do not eat or drink a caloric load for relief, you may feel light-headed, weak, fatigued, and irritable.
Most junk food doesn’t have a significant load of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals (chemical compounds produced by plants), and antioxidants that our brain and body need for normal cellular function and strong immune system.
This can cause people to lose brain function, age quickly, and become demented over the years.
In addition, junk food can make us more prone to depression and mental illness.
Processed foods aren’t just void of nutrients, they also contain toxins, chemicals, additives, flavorings, and colorings.
When we take in foods with little nutrient supply, we produce large amounts of metabolic wastes (substances left over from metabolic processes that cannot be utilized by the organism and must be expelled) from our own body.
Moreover, because the calories from junk food are rushing in the bloodstream all at once, dopamine receptors in the brain get stimulated and over time we become dopamine insensitive.
These highly palatable processed foods with concentrated calories are so addictive that they negatively affect brain receptors in the same way that cocaine does.
Processed food makes people want to consume even more unhealthy food just to avoid going into withdrawal.
Companies spend millions of dollars trying to figure out how to make their food products addictive. They test everything from the texture to the flavor, and make it just right so that you will want to keep coming back for more.
If you fuel your body with high nutrient foods and ratchet up the nutritional quality of the food you eat, you will curb your appetite!
Our obsession with junk food and eating is unquestionable and unfortunate, eating the wrong foods can lead to the strong desire to overeat calories!
Cravings are very common, but by paying attention to your cravings and their triggers you can actually make them a lot easier to avoid.
Kicking the junk food habit is challenging, but doable. So, how to stop eating junk food?
Once you get into the habit of gradually eating healthier, you’ll begin to experience the cravings of junk food less and less. The less junk food you eat, the less you crave it.
Remember to eat a big variety of whole plant foods. I am a big proponent of the plant-based diet.
Healthy foods contain a rich source of nutrients, and our brain cells need a constant supply of phytochemicals to stay healthy.
It doesn’t matter whether you are thin or overweight, low-nutrient calorie-dense junk foods can promote cancer development.
Tell me about your experience with junk food and why it is so hard for you to give it up in the comments sections below. And don’t forget to share this article with your friends who are also struggling with giving up junk food.