Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to quit junk food? If you too have trouble quitting it don’t be too hard on yourself. Science explains to us why.
The majority of people love junk food, even though we know it’s bad for us. If you’re one of them, surely you’ve told yourself many times by now that you’re finally going to quit eating it. However, no matter what you do or how hard you try, after a while, you end up going back to your old, bad habits, mainly because of lack of self-discipline.
You’re not entirely to blame though, because science can now explain why we have these incredible cravings for junk food. Nevertheless, we have compiled a list of questions which could help you on your way to creating a healthier diet for yourself and a healthier lifestyle:
What are the reasons?
When you make a decision to stay clear from junk food you should make a list of all the reasons why you want to stop eating it. Are you trying to lose weight? Do you want to improve your health? Or are you simply trying to change your lifestyle? When you have a definitive answer to these questions, it will strengthen your resolve and may increase the drive to resist the cravings when they inevitably arise in the near future.
Do you have a plan and if you do what is it?
Once you know your reasons for doing this, the next step is to make a solid plan on the types of food that you’ll eat from now on. You will need to plan your diet thoroughly and fill it with a variety of whole, healthy foods. When it comes making the transition to a healthy diet, many people make the mistake of starving themselves thinking this will bring them fast results. However, this can have a contrary effect and make it even harder to resist junk food cravings.
When we’re hungry and tired, the level of hormones which make us feel satiated is falling and we can be easily tempted into eating instant-made snacks. However, feeling hungry or tired is simply a part of life, so when you do feel that way, it’s much wiser to keep snacks like dried fruit or nuts, instead of keeping a stash of junk food. This will help you maintain stable blood sugar levels and will prevent sudden energy spikes which are followed by periods of lethargy.
Do you have the strength to say no?
It is crucial that you learn to say no and exercise self-control since the more you eat junk food, the greater the cravings you’ll experience. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle, studies say. There is a chemical in our brains called dopamine, which regulates the feeling of pleasure and gets released every time we are rewarded for something.
It is the chemical that makes us consistently crave for something, and the same goes for food. The more carbs and fat we eat, the more we crave them. Put simply, dopamine signals the brain to eat more junk food, because the more we eat it, the more we feel the satisfaction/reward the brain is after.
Do you follow through with your plans?
Making a plan is one thing, implementing it is another. You need to do something and take action as soon as possible. Cook your own food, make your own salad and do your own grocery shipping. With our busy modern lifestyles, not many of us have the time to prepare healthy meals.
That’s why it is generally recommended for anyone who lacks time to prepare each meal to set aside a day in the week and cook three or four days worth of meals. That way you won’t be bothered to spend time on every meal. Another way it to cook more than the amount you think you’ll need each time you prepare your own meal. That way you’ll have some leftover for your next meal.
Do you play any type of sport or at least workout?
If you’re already a physically active individual that’s great, however, if you haven’t done sports in a while, or ever for that matter, you should seriously consider doing it. Any type of physical activity would suffice. Playing sports while you’re trying to quit eating junk food is not strictly necessary, however, it can greatly speed up the process, not to mention it will provide you with a general sense of well-being, self-esteem, as well as a discipline which could spill over into other areas of your life.
Playing a certain type of sport or working out regularly, will help you maintain a healthy weight and make your muscles stronger and bigger, which will also make you look better.
What’s the state of your working environment?
Most people are not conscious of it, but the working environment is a big factor in achieving your diet goals. Whether you’re working at home or in an office, it is important that you have someone who will support you on this journey and push you to reach your goals whenever you’re feeling down.
Research has found that swapping food with people who also lead a healthy lifestyle can also help you progress faster. You can organize a food party, where everyone cooks large healthy meals and then you go on swapping them between each other.
Do you want ice cream?
Inevitably, a time will come when you won’t be able to resist eating some ice cream and chocolate. Studies have shown, that even people who try hard to lead a healthy lifestyle, can sometimes be overcome by the power of cravings usually in times when they lose sight of why they started doing it in the first place.
When people start to crave something, they are much more likely to pay more money just to get it. Considering this is already a proven fact, it is still possible to satisfy junk food cravings by substituting them with healthier alternatives.