The number of fast food joints in my neighbourhood have increased just in the past year. Why is that?
Busy lifestyles mean hard-working individuals don’t have time to spend in the kitchen every day, cooking healthy nutritious meals. The easiest thing is to pick up a frozen product from your local store or get a takeout on your way home after work.
And the difference is really in the taste.
What is it about fast junk food that tastes so good?
If you love pizza as much as I do, can you ever compare the taste of your homemade pizza with the ones you get from your local pizza joint? Of course not. Why is that?
Because of the proportions of sugar and fats.
Your average homemade cooked ‘junk’ food doesn’t contain half the negatives of an average fast food portion.
We’ve all seen the documentaries about a certain fast food brand and how the effects of eating it every day lead to decreased energy and a craving for more junk food. The long-term effects are a number of diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart attacks.
But have you stopped eating junk food after watching such shows? I know I haven’t.
Not all food is cooked the same and the same applies for junk food. Fast food is generally considered the worst but I can tell you these frozen packs of cooked food in your local store aren’t that much more nutritious.
What I did was realise where my cravings for junk came from. And then fight them each and every time. With a little planning, it’s not all that difficult.
How to get rid of junk food cravings
Eating junk is a cycle. You overload your body with sugar and processed carbohydrates, then you hit an energy slump and crave more junk. It’s a never-ending cycle and one you need to leave immediately.
I was also trapped in this cycle for years. What with reaching for that compulsory chocolate bar from the vending machine at a certain time of the day to starving on my way home from work and ending up ordering a huge takeout. But I got out in time.
So what do I do to get over my junk food cravings?
- Drink your vitamins
This is by far my most effective tip. You crave junk food because you’re so hungry that you cannot wait for dinner to be cooked. I used to prepare a pot of soup on a Sunday evening. Use your imagination but mostly it was any type of vegetables like mushrooms and parsley, spinach and kale, etc. Used a little olive oil and some spices for good taste, like thyme or a veggie stock. Then mash that soup into a puree using a blender. Now the thing about mashed anything in a blender is that it’s easier to drink it and it tastes much better than looking at a bunch of vegetables swimming in the pot. Getting home from work starved, I would pour a cup of the soup and warm it up. Down that and you’ve just bought yourself time until you whip up some healthy dinner. You can use any variations to make a soup like that – even chicken or beef. But the key here is to get some of your much-needed vitamins of the day while not filling up too much. It’s like a soup smoothie.
The more exercise you do, the less you’d feel attracted to the idea of eating junk. If you have a morning fitness regime, you’d notice how you’re a lot more careful of what you put in your body throughout the day. If you prefer to work out in the evenings, then by all means do it before dinner time. Same logic applies.
- Snack healthily
There’s nothing worse than the feeling of starvation. The latter ultimately leads to the cycle of eating junk. It’s been a long day, you’re starved – let’s pick up a takeout. Or order in. One way to fight starvation throughout the day is to have healthy snacks on standby. A handful of nuts and a fruit will do wonders to curb the feeling of hunger and have you wait for your healthy meal to be cooked.
- All in the brain
Paint an extremely negative picture of it in your head. Food is to be enjoyed. If you have painted a negative image of your dinner, chances are you won’t enjoy it all that much. Or end up feeling terribly guilty afterwards and no one wants to feel that way. Some of my tactics have been to imagine the process of that food being cooked before getting to me. I tell you it works like a charm. Especially when looking at your big portion of fries.
- Skin never lies
Have you noticed how after eating junk food your face looks puffy and your skin has this greyish tone? That’s one way of your skin telling you that thing you just fed it isn’t doing much to feed it. At some point, as soon as I’d touch junk food I’d break into some teenage acne and I looked horrible. That meant not only did I have to worry about the effects of junk food but then had to look like a sheepish teenage girl and who wants that in their thirties? Plus, if it does that to your skin, imagine what it does to your body.
- Educate yourself
The more you read, the more you would know about the harmful effects of eating junk. Education is power. Knowing what you put in your body is having control. Ordering take outs means you’re losing control of actually knowing what you’re eating.
- Plan ahead
This is my most dreadful one as I’m not a big fan of planning at all. But having even a vague idea of what you can eat during the busy week times is very helpful. If you like planning – great! Plan you weekly menus in advance. And it brings us to the next point…
- Cook in bulk
Making more than the daily portion/s for your and your family are hugely beneficial. You can cook in advance and then store in the fridge/freezer and warm up as you find fit during the week.
- Bake your desserts
This is a turning point in craving store-bought sweets and chocolates. Even if you only learn how to bake a couple of desserts and learn how to substitute white sugar and flour, then you’re one step closer to a healthier you and a you who will never buy cake from a store again.
Avoiding junk food doesn’t mean you’d never eat out again. Being more careful about where you eat is the goal. As a rule of thumb, the cheaper the place, the more processed food they’d be offering. Have you noticed how a salad is so much more expensive to order than a burger?
And as in most cases, don’t forget we are only human. Sometimes that pizza joint just smells all too appetizing. Or you attend a party and all they have on offer is, well, junk. Eat it, enjoy it, move on. Tomorrow is another day. A better day for your health.
What are some of the tips you use or have used to avoid eating junk?