Once you develop eating fast-food as a habit, it will become harder for you to stay fit & healthy. The sooner you take action and limit the amount of fast food you eat – it will be easier for you to get back to living a healthy lifestyle.
Many people do not eat junk food only for their taste. They use junk food as a coping mechanism.
You can stop eating junk food if you make a plan and stay determined to take good care of your body & health. In this post, you will read about some actionable tips & strategies to stop eating junk food.
Let’s dive in.
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How To Stop Eating JUNK FOOD
The best way to stop eating junk food is by cutting down easy access to junk food. Stop keeping lots of junk food at home. In the beginning, it’s most likely that you will have cravings. So, for some time, you can replace most junk foods with other healthier food options. Then after some months, you can completely stop eating junk foods.
Below I will give you some strategies & practical tips that will make it easy for you to stop eating junk food.
Having strong self-discipline can help you to lower your junk food consumption and break the habit of eating fast foods.
Keeping junk food around you means you have to use your willpower more often to control your cravings. As you read further, you will know why you should depend less on your willpower to stop eating fast food. (Use all the strategies given below to see better results.)
How far can you go with strong self-discipline?
Drinking soft drink is a common thing for most people. A few years ago – I was not any different from others. Once I found out soft drinks contain high amounts of sugar, I decided to stop drinking soft drinks (1 can or 12 fl oz/368g of ‘cola’ contains 39 grams of sugar – source).
After making that decision I remember – I haven’t tested any soft drinks for a little over 7 months. Currently, I only allow myself to drink 1-2 servings (less than 450ml total) of soft drink/cold drink after roughly 3-4 months. Mostly in family gatherings.
Let’s not talk more about that. Here’s how you can kick your junk food eating habits down the cliff.
1. Decrease your junk food stock.
It may sound simple, but it works. If you crave to eat junk food at home, do not store many junk food packets or cans at home.
When you have easy access to junk food, it will require you to battle with your willpower to not eat that junk food. Many times you may succeed to avoid eating any junk food.
But from my own experience, I can tell – no matter how hard you try, after not eating junk food for 5-8 times you will break the rule and eat junk food.
After not eating any junk food for 4-5 days, you will use a good portion of your willpower. So, once you eat junk food again – you will feel that all your previous efforts to avoid eating junk food gone in vain.
This can demotivate you. And you might want to go back to the beginning of eating junk food – more & more.
It should not be that hard to stop eating junk food.
You don’t need to waste your willpower to avoid eating junk food.
Cut down your easy access to junk food. Make it harder for you to find junk food. Do not keep junk food at home.
Let me explain how it works:
If you have ice cream & fruits to eat at home; its most likely you will crave for the ice cream.
But if you do not keep any ice cream and only keep fruits & ready to eat salad – then when you feel hungry, you only need to decide whether you want to eat fruits or salad.
Automatically it will reduce the amount of junk food you eat & you will eat healthier foods.
To stop eating junk food, you have to arrange your surroundings in a way – that they work in your favour. They need to help you lower your junk food intake without depending too much on your willpower or self-discipline.
When you are just starting to reduce your junk food intake – try to cut it slowly. If you have a habit of eating fast food and one day you stop eating fast food completely; then it can leave some impact on other things.
Best is to only keep a few packets of junk food at home that will last you 1-3 days if you are trying to eat junk food less frequently.
If you eat a lot of fast foods. Try to reduce the amount gradually over 2-3 weeks. Once your cravings for junk food lowers, you can start to replace junk foods with healthier snacks.
2. Replace junk food with healthier snacks.
After reducing the amount of junk food you eat over 2-3 weeks, you can start to replace most unhealthy junk foods with healthier snacks.
It will help you to lower the bad effects of those unhealthy junk foods.
Cut the most unhealthy junk foods first. Then slowly stop eating other junk foods as well.
You can replace unhealthy junk foods with healthier snacks from the start; if you do not eat that much junk food. Or do not use junk food as a coping method.
For the first 15-24 days eat some healthy food items that will make you healthier. Along with it – eat a few healthy & tasty snacks.
Here are some healthy & tasty snacks – popcorn with a little bit of butter & salt, dark chocolate without added sugar, roasted chickpeas (these are healthy as long as you eat in moderation).
These types of food are to satisfy your mouth. They do not need to be 100% healthy (healthier the better, but you need to like how they teste as well).
Remember, you are eating this type of – not so healthy foods to get to your goals. You are doing this to kick your junk food eating habits down the cliff.
3. Break your pattern of eating junk food.
It becomes easier to stop eating fast food once you notice and note down your eating patterns.
Note down your eating patterns for some days to a week. It will help you better understand – the events or situations which triggering you to eat fast food.
After finding out your junk food eating pattern or the times when you crave junk food – you can eat something healthy 20-30 minutes before that time.
It will break your junk food eating pattern. When your stomach is full, you can easily overcome your cravings for junk food.
In most cases, people crave junk food in the afternoon and late at night. If you stay awake late at night watching movies or scrolling through social media and eat junk food afterwards. Sleep early. It will help you – to not eat junk food at night.
Having an adequate amount of sleep – is good for lowering mood swings & can help you to eat less junk food.
4. Always have some healthy foods ready to eat.
If you try to prepare a healthy snack or food when you feel hungry – you can not do it for long.
Make it a habit – to always have something ready to eat healthy food near you.
When you are at home, it can be a smoothie. You can store a smoothie for 1-2 days. Or even better if you wash & store the basic ingredients for the smoothie. Prepare for 2-3 servings early in the day. It will come handy when you feel hungry. You can do something similar for other healthy food items of your choice as well.
When you are outside of your home, you can take – mixed nuts, healthy sandwich, homemade shakes, fruits etc. So, you have something healthy to eat if you could not find healthy food options when you want to eat.
Having some alternative healthy snacks is a great way to minimise your desire for junk food when you are not at home.
Here is a summary of a TEDMED talk given by Laura Schmidt (a Sugar scientist and UCSF professor of health policy) on Why we can’t stop eating unhealthy foods. Full YouTube video link of that same talk. (you might want to copy the URL and see it later if you have less time now. She points out some important facts that will help you decide whether you should change or continue eating junk food).
Protein takes more time to digest. Eating a meal packed with – a good amount of protein can help you to feel hunger less frequently.
After eating a protein-rich nutritious meal – if you have carvings, drink some water. Most likely, it will go away. Or you need to reconsider the amount of protein you have eaten earlier – was that sufficient for you?
Good to know: The taste of addictive junk foods are crafted to give you a mild flavour that your tongue will like. But you will not get enough of it. So you will eat more to satisfy your mouth.
One pack of potato chips or 28.4g potato chips contain 152 calories, total fat 10g.
If you eat 3 packs of potato chips [3 * 28.4g] in a day, you will add 456 calories & 30g fat.
Here are some facts from wikiHow to burn 500 calories – 1. You need to jog for about 60 minutes at a speed of 5 mi (8.0 km) per hour to burn 500 calories. 2. You need to run 6 mi (9.7 km) per hour roughly for 45 minutes to burn 500 calories. 3. It can take 40-45 minutes of swimming at a moderate pace to burn 500 calories. 4. 2 hours of yoga to burn 500 calories. Source – WikiHow – How to Burn 500 Calories.
5. Know how junk food affects your body & health.
After eating fast food, most people feel bloated. Fast foods are also called as – ‘poor nutrition foods’. They contain very less amount of dietary fibre & antioxidants in comparison to unprocessed healthy meals.
Eating fast food in larger quantities for a long period can have metabolic consequences as well.
Having a high metabolic rate helps your body to burn more calories while you rest or do other daily activities during the day. Where – low metabolic rate burns fewer calories.
Someone in their 20s can eat some fast food and they might gain little to no fat but if someone aged 30-35+ eats that same amount of junk food and doesn’t do exercise to burn those extra calories then this can lead them to gain body fat.
When you have a good metabolism rate, the last thing you want to do is to lower it. You don’t have to go for a ‘weight loss journey’ 6-7 years from now. It’s not fun. You wouldn’t like to try those diet foods either.
Take preventive measures from now. Eat-in moderation and do 15-25 minutes of exercise. This much effort will help you maintain a fit body.
Short rant:~ I only exercise on an average 3 hours per week throughout the year. This much exercise is sufficient for me to stay fit & gain muscle mass.
My food choices have a BIG role in this. In short – I only follow one diet – its balanced diet. I’m a cook when not writing. Moderation is the key if you like to eat delicious meals (for now and in the next 6-7 years) + want to stay healthy/ maintain a good physique.
Fat burning mode vs Maintenance mode
When you are trying to lose weight, you can reduce your weight faster if you workout 40-50 minutes 4-5 days. Once you reduced those extra body weight, you can maintain that body by only doing 2-3 hours of exercise per week (assuming you will look after your food). Good eating habits & 15-25 minutes of daily exercise is all it takes. It becomes easier – when you develop them as a habit.
6. Separate your grocery shopping.
Oftentimes when you go for grocery shopping, you may end up buying many junk foods. Separating your grocery shopping from other things can help you minimise your junk food consumption.
Prepare a list of food items you need in advance and stick to it when you go for grocery shopping. If you feel like you need to buy any processed food outside that list – note that down in your phone. Make that decision later.
This can help you to avoid eating extra junk food. Also, keeping those food lists is a great way to easily calculate how much junk food you are eating within 6-7 days.
If you want, you can go one step further.
Search for those food items on Google or in a food calorie counter app to find out how much calories, fat, sugar etc. you are consuming. Then you can compare it with the daily values based on a caloric intake of 2000 kcal (source: wikipedia.org).
7. Strengthen your willpower & self-discipline.
Improving your self-discipline will help you to stop eating fast foods and stop other bad habits as well.
But you shouldn’t only depend on your willpower to limit your junk food intake. It can take some time to improve your self-discipline. So, if you only depend on your willpower to eat less junk food – then it can take a long time before you see any satisfying results.
Combine all the tips I have mentioned earlier. It will become easier for you to stop eating junk food. Like – limiting the amount of junk food you keep in your home, replacing junk food with other healthier snacks, following a food list when grocery shopping, eating some healthy foods 20-30 minutes before you crave for junk food etc.
You can stop eating junk food. You just need to find a good reason for not eating any food that leaves a bad impact on your health and makes it harder for you to live a healthy lifestyle.
Finding The Right Reason To Stop Eating Fast Food
You need to find your ‘why’. You need to find why you should stop eating fast food.
It will become much easier to reduce the amount of fast food you eat once you find a good reason to eat less fast food.
Getting involved in fitness can help you to have a solid reason to cut down junk food from your life.
The best thing about exercising is – when you don’t eat unhealthy foods, you can improve your body shape and add muscle mass by just exercising for 2-3 hours per week. But if you eat unhealthy foods, you need to exercise a lot more to get similar results.
Once you understand how much less you have to exercise, the moment you stop eating junk food – you will not feel the same about eating junk food.
You can start by exercising 15 minutes at home. Read the advantages of home workouts over gym workouts. To get the most out of your home workout sessions, check out home workout secrets.
To stop yourself from eating junk food, you need to depend less on your willpower and more on other strategies. It will become easier if you arrange your surrounding in such a way – that they help you to not eat junk food.
When you only keep healthy foods at home and no junk food – you don’t need to depend on your willpower. Because it cuts down easy access to junk food. Naturally, you will eat less junk food and more healthy foods. I have explained this in the first section in more detail.
A summary of all the tips and strategies you have read earlier in this post.
7 Ways to stop eating fast food:
- Decrease your junk food stock.
- Replace junk food with healthier snacks.
- Break your pattern of eating junk food.
- Always have some healthy food ready to eat.
- Give up junk food for its bad effects.
- Separate your grocery shopping.
- Strengthen your willpower & self-discipline.
Resources that will help you understand why you should stop eating junk food.
Laura Schmidt TEDMED talk on Why we can’t stop eating unhealthy foods.
Robb Wolf explains Why Quitting Junk Food Is Hard – YouTube.
Trust your hunger and make peace with food | Eve Lahijani | TEDxUCLA – YouTube
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