You know the story. You’re ready and motivated to start working out and eating only healthy, good-for-you foods. But two or three days into your new healthy eating plan, your cravings for French fries and chocolate chip cookies start rolling in stronger than ever. Junk food cravings are difficult to resist and are one of the most common reasons why your grandiose plans for healthy eating never seem to last past your next drive by the local ice cream parlor. Cravings for unhealthy foods are frustrating, but they are beatable. Stay proactive to keep your junk food cravings at bay and maintain your healthy lifestyle.
1. Don’t Deprive Yourself
If you eat a donut every Sunday morning and then suddenly decide one week that you’re never going to eat a donut again in your life, that resolve is most-likely not going to last. You shouldn’t make it your goal to cut all junk food our of your life forever. That’s unrealistic and you’ll end up with extreme cravings that lead you to break your promise to yourself.
Instead of creating a complete ban on junk food for yourself, just limit the unhealthy food you eat instead. Deprivation only makes your cravings worse in the long run. If you allow yourself to infrequently consume very small amounts of junk food, you’ll satisfy your cravings without ruining your healthy diet.
2. Stay Away From Diets
Don’t involve yourself in diets that force you to cut out something like sugar or fat completely. First of all, these diets usually aren’t the healthiest options. Also, they end up increasing your cravings for junk food over time until they become unbearable.
Stay away from these all-or-nothing diets. Opt for a balanced eating plan instead. Focus on filling your meals with healthy, real, high-quality foods. Don’t worry too much about whether or not these foods include small amounts of sugar, fat, or salt.
3. Make Healthy Food Fun
A great way to prevent yourself from craving junk food is to make the healthy food you eat exciting and craving-worthy, too. If you have to choose between a pile of spinach and a chocolate chip muffin, which one do you think is going to win?
Make the healthy food you eat delicious so that you look forward to eating it and have no reason to crave foods that are bad for you.
4. Determine Your Triggers
Are you unable to resist a croissant when you go on your weekly coffee date with your friend? Is it a habit of yours to bake cupcakes when you’re feeling stressed at work? Most people have triggers that strengthen their cravings for junk food, whether that trigger is a specific environment or a negative emotion.
It’s important to determine what your personal triggers are so that you can avoid them at all costs. Once you identify your triggers, figure out how you are able to eliminate them from your life or replace your automatic reaction with a different, healthier option.
5. Reward Yourself, But Not With Food
It’s common to encourage and motivate yourself with rewards for doing well in life, whether you’re maintaining your healthy lifestyle or succeeding at work. Many people end up rewarding themselves with junk food treats.
Try to avoid using food as treats. It’s great to reward yourself, but make sure your rewards are non-consumable. Plan a coffee date with a friend, schedule a massage or a pedicure, or buy yourself that necklace you’ve been eyeing.
6. Make a New Habit
A major issue with junk food cravings is that they are highly habitual. Your body is used to eating junk food on a regular basis, so it makes sense that you automatically feel cravings for unhealthy foods at a time when you would usually eat them.
Work on replacing your junk food habit with a new one. Every time you feel an unhealthy food craving coming on, do ten jumping jacks, complete a deep breathing exercise, or watch a funny Youtube video. It might seem silly, but forming these new habits help distract you from your cravings and make them subside more quickly.
7. Forgive Yourself
No matter how hard you try to avoid junk food cravings, you probably won’t be able to escape them completely. Eventually, you’ll end up slipping and eating that cupcake or ordering that cheeseburger. When you do make that slip up, it’s important to forgive yourself.
Your junk food cravings aren’t the product of your low willpower. They’re a scientific phenomenon that stems from a dependance on the perfect combination of sugar, fat, and salt that junk food companies intentionally include in their products so that people like you will crave them. When you’re trying to avoid junk food cravings, you’re literally overcoming an addiction. Remind yourself that it’s okay to make a mistake, move on, and keep trying.
Junk food cravings are a struggle, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on overcoming them. It takes commitment and effort, but resisting your junk food cravings is possible and will help you eventually get rid of them all together.