You walk into a movie theater. There it is, in shining lights, bright as day, the concession stand. The lure of the brightly popping corn, the larger than life boxes of Milk Duds, the smell of hot buttery kernels, the super-sized fountain drinks. You walk past. Halfway through the movie, you find yourself unable to concentrate; the smell, the sounds of happily munching neighbors reaching into the giant buckets for another buttery handful. You burst out of the theater, money in hand, “Give me the extra large.” You demand. If this is you, you may be having a hard time kicking junk food. After all, it’s so convenient, so cheap, so addictive, so delicious, so childlike, so seductive, so fattening. You need help. Here are some tips for living a junk free life.
Kicking Junk Food
We all know it’s hard to kick junk food. It’s set up that way. Junk food is big business and manufacturers are prepared to take full advantage. Manufacturers aim for the “bliss point’ in the product. This may think of as sort of a junk food orgasm, with the later experiencing the height of pleasure, the ultimate balance between the sweet, the salty, and the fatty. At this point, your brain reacts in a similar way to the way it would with cocaine addiction. This is the point at which temptation becomes hardest to resist, but there are ways:
A good way of handling cravings is to make sure you always have a healthy alternative prepared. This will reduce what researchers refer to as your “food cue activity”, or the time in which you are most susceptible to the influence of food advertisements, smells, and conversations pertaining to food. Aim to plan your weekly meals at the beginning of your work week. Go grocery shopping, stocking up on easy to prepare foods, like brown rice, beans, roasted and stir-fried vegetables, and cold salads. Store them in containers or foil to make them easy to grab before work in the morning. Fruit also travels well and can be an easy afternoon snack option.
….and by this, we mean around the edge of the store. The dairy, fish, produce, heart healthy and meat sections are typically located on the perimeter of a grocery store, while processed foods are kept in the aisle. By purchasing from these sections, you will begin to get used to eating whole grains, proteins, fruit, and vegetables, gradually weaning yourself off junk foods.
Not all fat makes you fat. Your body needs a little fat, as long as its heart healthy. While you should avoid the trans fats and saturated fats lurking in pro chart -healthy fats, like the kinds found in nuts and avocados will reduce cravings and help you to feel full.
Change Your Thinking
Ah, the power of negative thinking! A 2013 study demonstrated that when participants were trained to look at junk food in a negative way, their desire for it decreased. Junk food junkies were asked to view the objects of their cravings as if they: We’re already full; Just saw someone sneeze on the item Could save the food for later; We’re told that the food would have a negative impact on them (weight gain, stomachache)
Eat the Rainbow
Try bringing some new foods in your diet to keep it interesting. Eating diverse foods across the color spectrum keep you from boredom and reverting back to junk food. Plus, eating the rainbow can improve health and prevent disease. Try some purple grapes, red beets, orange mangoes, green spinach, and blueberries for some healthy psychedelia.
Let us know how your battle with junk food is going. What are your best tips for resisting the “bliss point?”