Healthy eating habits can be hard to manage — especially if you haven’t been paying much attention to what you actually put in your body until now. If you enjoy a good junk food binge, or regularly cave into your unhealthy cravings, perhaps it’s time you learn how to control some of these unhealthy cravings.
Ice cream, french fries, and soda pop are all-too tempting. And if you get into the habit of including this kind of junk food in your diet day after day, you could end up with some serious health issues on your hands. So, what can you do?
Sometimes all it takes is a little hand-holding and a true effort to kick overly salty or sugary foods to the curb. But when you don’t always know which foods are high in sugar, it might be tough to ignore cravings. How can you opt for a healthier choice when you get the urge to eat?
Learning how to stop eating unhealthy food can be tough. But with the right tips and techniques, you can build healthy eating habits to support well-being.
How To Stop Eating Unhealthy Food And Snacks: Start Healthy Eating Habits Today
Obesity is an epidemic. But contrary to popular belief, avoiding food as much as possible is not the best way to diet. Instead, you should always have a healthy snack on hand — no matter where you are. Keep a bottle of water in your car and you might be able to resist heading to that drive-thru for a soda or sugary drink.
Stash high-protein, healthy snacks in your bag whenever possible. A few almonds are great to get you through those late afternoon cravings. Not only are they a good protein-based option, but they can also help satisfy your hunger in a pinch.
If you can’t bring a healthy snack with you in your backpack, handbag, or even stashed in your car, make sure to prepare and eat a healthy meal before you even leave the house. If you stock your home with only healthy options, you won’t be able to “cheat”.
And if you eat before you go to any kind of event — whether it’s a baseball game, a wedding, or a concert — you’ll be less hungry and better equipped to beat your junk food cravings.
Cravings Brought On At Social Events: How To Avoid Social Overeating
Sticking to a healthy plan can become quite complicated in various social situations. In fact, there are several studies out there that have shown people adjusting their food intake in direct relation to the intake of their eating companions.1 So, if you’re at a party and a friend goes for the second piece of cake, you might (subconsciously) follow suit.
Many people equate social gatherings with food. Always feel free to ask what is being served at a gathering. Or, if you’re heading to a restaurant, look at the menu online. Map out what you’ll eat before you arrive. It’s easier to steer clear of temptation when you’ve been looking forward to something you selected earlier.
And always check in with yourself before you fill your plate: Are you piling up food because you’re really hungry or because everyone else is doing. A quick check-in could be the difference between knowing your limit and getting roped into eating more than you need.
Healthy Snacking Tips: Create A Meal Plan With Well-Rounded And Healthier Options
A meal plan can do a lot to help you fend off bad-for-you cravings. On the first day of your week, think about what you’ll have for lunch and dinner each day. Shop according to plan. And if you know you’ll be attending a special event, plan for it. Perhaps you can even offer to bring a dish to the event — that way, not only will you seem generous, but you can also make something compliant with your new health standards.
When you happen to pick out your meals for the week, think of healthy, easy to prepare dishes. Make sure you’ve got some options for protein and fresh vegetables. If you choose something too complicated you may neglect to make it in the end. Also, think about what you need in order to succeed.
Your lunches should be portable (if you work at an office or don’t spend your days at home). Plant-based foods can be good for you and they’re easy to take on the road in small baggies or containers.
Above all, don’t rely on processed food. Keep your ingredients fresh. The more natural foods you eat, the more you’ll naturally start to crave them. You’ll turn your nose away from processed foods in no time.
Top Five Tips To Help You Stop Eating Unhealthy Food
Consider this section a cheat sheet, if you well. When in doubt, you can turn to these 5 tips as a way to help jumpstart your health kick (or to get you back in line if you’ve fallen off the proverbial junk food wagon, as it were).
1. Get More Sleep
Believe it or not, your appetite is significantly affected by the hormones in your body. When they fluctuate to extremes, it can be increasingly difficult to monitor your health habits and stick to healthier eating.
Getting good sleep really is more important than you may think it is. Sleep deprivation can actually interrupt and disrupt the various fluctuations in hormone production and distribution. This could potentially lead to less than ideal appetite regulation and intense cravings.
As it turns out, sleep-deprived people are potentially more likely to eventually suffer from obesity when compared to people who tend to get more sleep on average.2
This is just one good reason to turn in early. Try adding an hour by either going to bed an hour earlier or getting up an hour later — if your schedule allows. A well-rested mind might just be better equipped for fighting off dangerous cravings that could tank your efforts.
2. Never Shop Hungry
If there’s one place you don’t want to be when you’re really hungry, it’s the grocery store. Stores are set up to target you when you’re weak. Signs point every which way to get you to buy more than you need and if you’re hungry when you shop, you’ll likely end up spending more than you intended.
For starters, groceries stock so many foods — name it and you’ll likely be able to find it at your local grocer’s. Also, grocery store clerks tend to stock the eye-level shelves with the least healthy option. They’re hoping you’ll get addicted to that sugary cereal or those salty processed chips. If they can hook you, you’ll be back for more.
So, what is your best bet on surviving the temptations of the grocery store? Eat first. Fill up on a healthy meal or snack before heading out the door. And again, if you shop on your way home from work or something, it might be best to keep a small package of nuts or an apple in your bag or briefcase.
Stay away from the market if you’re hungry. If you have to go shopping and you haven’t eaten, take 5 minutes to pick up something healthy and eat it before completing your shopping trip.
3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Many times when you think you’re hungry, you could actually just be thirsty. Before grabbing something from the pantry shelf, try filling up a glass of water. Drink the whole thing before choosing a snack.
Often when you reach for water first, your craving for junk food will go away — or it might just get easier to ignore.
Plus, drinking a good amount of water every day might offer health benefits you had not actually considered. In fact, in one recent study, middle-aged adults found that a glass of water before mealtime actually diminished their cravings. In some cases, it even led to weight loss.3
4. Walk Away, Literally
The next time you feel a craving for something sugary sweet, walk away from the pantry. You can step outside for a ten-minute walk or even just go into the next room and count to 50. Just remove yourself from actually being able to fill your craving at that moment.
Go read 10 pages of your book, jog around the block, or take a shower. Changing your environment can loosen your grip on thinking you need to feed yourself in a given moment. Generally, when you return, you may not even think about the food you were craving.
There are a few studies out there that have shown a distraction like chewing gum can help erase nagging cravings and lead to better appetite control in the long-run.4
5. Pack Up Your Protein
Take protein-based snacks with you whenever you can. Getting more protein in your diet could potentially help you overcome cravings. It’s possible protein can make you feel less hungry for a longer period of time.
In a recent study of overweight men, upping their caloric intake of protein by 25% actually led to a 60% decrease in the occurrence of cravings. More importantly, this uptick in protein intake reduced the desire of the participants to snack in the evening by up to 50%.5
Other Tips To Help You Control Unhealthy Cravings
The list of ways to help yourself kick nasty cravings aside doesn’t stop at number 5. There are lots of little ways to encourage yourself to stick to your plan.
- One good way to avoid falling off your plan is to always shop with a grocery list. If you didn’t write it down when you were planning out your meals, don’t put it in your cart. Just don’t do it.
- Your body has ways of knowing whether or not it needs certain nutrients. If you make sure you’re getting all of the fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals you need, your brain won’t ask your body to compensate by finding food. Try talking to your doctor about whether or not you could benefit from a dietary supplement.
- Variety is the spice of life. Try mixing up your food plan a little each week so you don’t get bored. Maybe pick out a new healthy recipe to try each week. Encourage yourself to seek out new-to-you ingredients. If you’ve never cooked with lemongrass, for example, look up recipes that feature it.
- You don’t have to only be adventurous at restaurants. You can think of your kitchen like a laboratory and experiment with new ingredients and recipes as much as you want. Who knows? You may discover a favorite new dish that’s easy to make.
- Whether you opt to follow a keto diet plan or simply start eating more whole foods, remember that you can always plan ahead. Planning is the dieter’s most effective tool. If you plan ahead, you can make sure to have olive oil in the house instead of butter. If you plan ahead, you can purchase enough fresh fruits vegetables and you won’t need to rely on processed junk food.
Craving Control And A Healthier You
Managing your appetite is possible — it can even be fun once you get used to it. You’ll pride yourself on making better choices and your body will thank you.
And if you have questions about nutrition and dietetics, you can always consult a nutritionist. A nutritionist will be able to help you address specific health concerns. They can also provide you with tools to meet your dietary needs if you are sensitive or allergic to specific foods.
So, get ready to kick processed foods and sugary foods to the curb. After a few weeks, you likely won’t even miss eating the way you used to. And remember: the hardest part is getting started. But once you do you’ll likely feel — and see — the benefits before too long.
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