Most people are aware that junk food is bad for your health. In fact, when most people try to lose weight, the first thing they tend to do is give up on junk food. Yet, there is no denying that giving up your favourite fries, hamburgers, and soda can be quite difficult.
But have you ever wondered what really happens after you give up junk food? Read on to find out.
Why Do We Crave Processed Food?
Processed foods are chemical-laden addictive foods, and you'll usually find them sold in boxes, bags, and jars. In order to create recipes that appeal to your taste buds, a large number of well-paid scientists are hired. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter if the end results of these recipes cause havoc to your health.
These foods are loaded with added sugar and trans fat, which physically changes how they feel inside your mouth. This is why these foods are so hard to say no to – they are literally altered to appeal to your taste buds. Your body craves this altered taste and texture more than, say, a fresh salad.
And that's not even the worse part of junk food.
Not only does eating junk food mean that you're fueling your body with nasty and harmful chemicals, but you're also depriving yourself of essential nutrients. Even otherwise, healthy food, such as lean meat and fruits, are stripped of most of their nutrients when they are processed.
Therefore, giving up on processed food can have some fantastic benefits for your body, health, and even mind.
The First Week After Giving Up Junk Food
Here's the part where things get complicated. You may find giving up junk foods complex because it can result in withdrawal symptoms very similar to people trying to quit drugs.
New research by the University of Michigan, published in an issue of the journal Appetite, studies the symptoms people experience when they cut out processed foods from their diet.
Erica Schulte, the lead author of the study, states, "We believe that the findings do provide initial support for the relevance of withdrawal when cutting down on highly processed junk foods, which lends further support to the plausibility of a 'food addiction' for some individuals."
Depending on how much processed food you were consuming, you may experience fatigue and irritability for the first 5 to 7 days after quitting it. In extreme cases (like someone who only lived off processed food suddenly went cold turkey), you may experience nausea and headaches as well.
In addition to that, it may take a little time for your GI tract to adjust. The increased fibre intake—an ingredient usually removed from processed foods—may cause bloating, loose stools, and other gastrointestinal discomforts.
The good news is that these symptoms don't last long. If you make a commitment and manage to stick with it for up to two weeks at least, you'll start noticing your mood improving and fewer cravings for junk food. Your GI tract will also adjust to the changes quickly and result in a healthier gut as a result.
Benefits of Quitting Junk Food
Once you're able to survive past the initial withdrawal symptom of quitting junk food, you'll start experiencing the following benefits.
Your Clothes Will Fit Better
It may take you a while to lose weight even after giving up junk food, but you will start feeling fitter almost instantly. Fast is loaded with sodium which causes your body to hold onto water to maintain the proper sodium balance. This water retention can cause you to look bloated. Soon after you give up processed food, the low sodium intake will cause the bloating to subside, and you'll notice that your jeans fit you much better.
Do you tend to reach for a big cheeseburger and French fries when you're feeling down? Well, you may be surprised to learn that the consumption of fast food is linked to a higher rate of depression. All the processed chemicals found in processed foods can negatively affect your mood. Trans fat can make you feel foggy, sugar and syrups can cause energy crashes, and MSG can leave you feeling depressed.
The more fast food you consume, the higher the risk. Instead, the next time you need some comfort food, opt for foods that contain healthy fats, vegetables, whole grains, or beverages such as black coffee or wine. It may take a little while to get used to it, but these foods actually have a positive impact on your mind. And after a while, you'll naturally reach for healthy foods when you're down.
You'll Feel More Energized
Even the processed foods that aren't remotely sweet are laden with added sugars. When you consume a high amount of refined sugar and simple carbs, the pancreas secretes insulin to keep the blood sugar in control. Since there are no complex carbs in junk food to provide you with lasting energy, your blood sugar levels crash as soon as you are done with your meal.
This can leave you feeling tired and craving another quick fix of energy from sugary and carby foods. Giving up on fast food will prevent you from feeling groggy and dealing with those crashes and will overall make you feel better.
There are additional long-term benefits of giving up junk food as well. These include:
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Stronger bones
- Increased ability to focus
- Better management of weight
- Improved skin
- Balanced hormones
- Boosted immunity system
Overall, there aren't any benefits to consuming junk food. On the flip side, quitting junk food can bring you immense benefits and improve your life's overall quality. So next time you're feeling like indulging in some junk food, try to think of all the amazing things that'll happen if you don't give in to your indulgence.