How to Stop Eating Junk Food and Switch to Healthy Meals
Eating junk food is something we’ve all done at some point in our lives. Some of us do it habitually, while others do it occasionally—as a last resort after a long work day or to treat ourselves. If you’re one of the former, this blog post is especially for you.
So, what is junk food?
Junk food is the term used to describe food of very low nutritional value and high in fat, sugar, and sometimes sodium–empty calories. Such foods are highly processed and lose all their essential nutrients, water, and fiber content. They’re convenient, cheap, and readily available compared to most healthy meals. Some common examples are soft drinks, fries, and ice cream—the food served practically everywhere.
Why is junk food bad for you?
These foods are addictive, and although they’re very delicious, they’re very detrimental to your health. The excessive fats, sugar, and calories in them contribute to weight gain. They can lead to numerous medical issues—high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and joint pain, to name a few—some of which are irreversible. Junk food is void of the nutrients needed to sustain your body, maintain a healthy weight, and keep you in good health.
The effects of junk food on the body
It causes blood sugar spikes.
Because of how quickly junk food breaks down, it causes blood sugar spikes, mainly because of its added sugar and refined carbohydrates. This, in turn, causes an abnormal increase in insulin, which results in tiredness shortly after eating.
It raises blood pressure.
According to the American Heart Association, eating foods with too much salt causes water to be pulled into your blood vessels, resulting in an abnormally high sodium level. When this happens, blood pressure increases, and as time goes by, blood vessel walls are stretched, and plaque forms, which can block blood flow.
It increases inflammation in the body.
Yes, it is true—the body does need sodium. It’s a mineral that helps muscles contract and relax, sends nerve impulses throughout the body, and keeps electrolytes in balance. However, consuming too much of it puts pressure on your kidneys, building high levels in your blood. This extra sodium in your body causes tissue inflammation, which can lead to organ damage and other life-threatening problems.
It results in poor nutrient intake.
When meals are replaced with junk food or junk food replaces portions of your meal, receiving the recommended daily servings of vegetables and fruits isn’t easy.
Because junk food breaks down so quickly in the body, it quickly spikes your blood sugar and causes an abnormally large insulin surge, making you feel hungry again soon after eating. So, frequent consumption of unhealthy food prompts more frequent consumption, resulting in binge eating and poor nutrition, such as issues with digestion, immunity, heart health, and more.
So, how can you stop eating junk food?
Knowing about all the negative effects of junk food now has you wondering how to stop eating it and switch to more healthy meals. Here’s how:
Plan your meals.
When you plan out your meals for the week, it reduces the likelihood that you may purchase junk food to eat. It allows you to ensure you’re getting the right balance of nutrients, saving you time and reducing your stress. When you follow your meal plan, you don’t have to wonder what to eat daily—it’s already all planned out. There’s an added benefit to planning your meals, too—it’ll save you money, especially if you have a large family. We all know how expensive it can be to eat out.
Drink lots of water.
Try drinking water every time you have a craving for junk food. You’ll be surprised how much it helps—it washes away your junk food cravings. Keeping a large bottle of water with you and taking a huge gulp whenever you feel the urge for something unhealthy does the trick—try it! Not only will it keep your cravings in check, but it will also ensure that you meet the recommended daily water intake.
Get enough sleep.
When you don’t get enough sleep, it often increases your hunger, leading to strong cravings. Giving in to those cravings is something that can be avoided. Try going to bed early—early enough to get a full eight hours of sleep every night. Avoid checking your phone, and avoid heavy meals and caffeine before bed, all of which may make it harder to fall asleep.
Eat healthy and filling meals.
Hunger only increases your cravings, so eat meals high in proteins to keep you full for longer. That way, you won’t overeat. Also, whenever you feel like eating something sweet, try having a fruit—watermelon, bananas, or berries—all naturally sweet, preservative-free, and loaded with vitamins.
Keep yourself occupied.
Being preoccupied can take your mind off your cravings. Do household chores, walk, rearrange your space—in general, do whatever you can to stop thinking about unhealthy food. It works wonders, you’ll see.
Find people on the same journey as you to make the process easier. Reach out to them, ask for advice, and invite them to discuss your progress. If you need someone’s contact details, Nuwber can help you.
Avoid stress eating.
When you’re stressed, you tend to go for unhealthy foods and overeat. Try looking for healthy ways of coping with your stress. Whatever you choose to do, ensure that it’s something you enjoy. That way, you’ll stick to it.
Eating junk food, although very satisfying, can destroy your body if you’re not careful. This is why it’s so important to limit the amount—to once or twice a month or less—especially if you have a health condition.
If you regularly eat well and are physically active, eating junk food once a week shouldn’t pose a problem, particularly if you practice portion control. If you slip up, it’s fine—don’t beat yourself up for it. Take it one step at a time; before you know it, you’ll avoid junk food altogether.