You are aware that junk foods are unhealthy. There are no doubts about it. Yet, when that midday craving for hotdogs or bagels strikes, your self-control seems to jump out the window, and you indulge in foods that you are very well aware are bad for you.
Junk food cravings are the worst enemy of a healthy eater. It is an intense and uncontrollable desire for specific food and tends to be much stronger than normal hunger. While these cravings vary from person to person and can include a wide range of foods, they most often contain a high amount of sugar or unhealthy fats.
If you’ve been trying to eat healthy or lose weight but have come to realize that your untimely junk food cravings are causing hurdles in your journey, here are some ways you can keep your cravings at bay.
Arguably the most effective way to control untimely junk food cravings is to stay hydrated at all times. It is very easy to confuse thirst with hunger or food cravings. If you suddenly feel an urge to eat a specific food, drink a tall glass of water instead. After a few minutes, you may find that your craving has gone away since your body was actually feeling dehydrated. In addition, there are many health benefits of drinking plenty of water, including weight loss and reduced appetite.
Plan Your Meal Ahead of Time
Planning your meals ahead of time can help reduce untimely cravings significantly. If you don’t have anything healthy to reach for when you feel hungry in the afternoon, you’d be more prone to reaching for that leftover pizza, ordering French fries, or even just binging on those sweets someone brought to the office.
However, if you have some fruits, a trail mix, or a cold salad, you’re far less likely to indulge in something unhealthy – mainly because it would actually be more convenient to eat something healthy instead. Basically, you’d be able to use your ‘food cue reactivity’ to your advantage.
This is a phenomenon that influences your susceptibility to being affected by food smells, advertisement, or even conversations. In addition to that, if you already have your meals for the day planned and follow the plan regularly, you are less likely to feel hungry at unusual times.
Include Healthy Fats to Your Diet
Contrary to popular belief, fat isn’t the enemy of your diet. It is the unhealthy trans-fat found in most junk food that is bad for you. The healthy fats found in fatty fish, nuts, seeds, whole eggs, and healthy oils such as avocado oil, olive oil, and coconut oil can be very beneficial for your health as well as your diet plan. Healthy fats keep you satiated and make you feel fuller for longer.
Therefore, they automatically reduce untimely cravings. Having a mix of nuts and seeds on you at all times is a great way to include healthy fats to your day while also ensuring that you have something healthy to eat when untimely hunger pangs strike. Another great way to incorporate healthy and fillings fats into your diet is to add fatty fish or fresh guacamole to your day.
Up Your Protein Intake
Ensuring that you are consuming an adequate amount of fat throughout the day can help reduce your appetite and prevent you from overeating. Proteins keep you satiated for longer as compared to carbohydrates. It was observed through a study of overweight teenage girls that eating a high-protein diet significantly reduced cravings throughout the day.
Get Proper Sleep
It has been observed that a lack of sleep can play a big role in increasing junk food cravings. The hormones that fluctuate throughout the day have a significant effect on your appetite, and sleep deprivation can disrupt this fluctuation. This can lead to poor appetite regulation and an increase in unhealthy cravings.
According to a study, people who are constantly sleep-deprived are more like to become obese as compared to those who get enough sleep. It is also a good idea to stop eating a few hours before your hit the hay, as going to bed with a full stomach can cause indigestion and hamper your ability to fall and stay asleep.
Manage Your Stress
You may be surprised to learn, but there’s almost always an emotional component behind junk food cravings. You may think that you want to eat a muffing because you really enjoy the flavour or need an energy boost. However, you’re more likely to actually grab that muffing when you’re stressed or upset about something.
In fact, it may be a way to procrastinate, distract yourself, and stuff your feelings. Instead of giving in to your cravings, try to manage your stress in healthier ways, such as yoga, meditation, or journaling. Sometimes, even taking a few deep breathes or going for a stroll can make you feel better. If you still aren’t able to manage your stress properly, consult a doctor or mental health professional about it.
Our body benefits from eating a wide variety of natural foods. However, most junk foods are designed to reduce this desire for organic ingredients and make you feel dependent on unhealthy foods. This can trap you in a vicious cycle of unhealthy eating – the more junk food you eat, the more junk food your body craves. Instead, follow these simple steps and load your food with healthy ingredients to keep your cravings at bay.