Managing Cravings for Junk Food

We’ve all been there, you’re doing a good job sticking to your healthy eating plan when suddenly you get a monster craving for a double cheeseburger, a pile of crispy fries, or a slice of chocolate cake. Dealing with these cravings for junk food can be one of the biggest challenges in reaching your health and fitness goals. Luckily, you don’t have to let your cravings get the best of you. Here are some helpful tips to help you reduce and manage junk food cravings and stay on track!

Put Distance Between Yourself and Your Trigger Foods

When it comes to junk food, proximity breeds temptation. If you have chips and Oreos in your pantry or at your desk, you’re more likely to eat chips and Oreos. An incredibly simple, yet very effective way to reduce your cravings is just to keep the unhealthy stuff away from you as best as possible. Gradually, those foods will become “out of sight, out of mind”. Instead, keep your house stashed with healthy snacks like fresh and dried fruits, nuts, and sugar-free granola.

Manage Your Stress

One of the biggest causes of junk food cravings is stress. When you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, your body may crave salty, sugary foods to make you feel better. Eating these unhealthy, processed foods releases pleasure-causing hormones like dopamine and serotonin in the brain, and that release can be addictive. If you keep your stress at bay, you’re less likely to crave that short-term reward. Some good ways to manage your stress levels are getting a good night’s sleep, exercising, spending time outside, laughing, doing yoga, and meditating.

Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated will help you feel full, alert, and energized throughout the day, thus reducing your chances of craving high-sugar, high-calorie junk food. Drinking a sufficient amount of water can also help you cut back on soda and other sugary beverages.

Satisfy Your Cravings with Similar Healthy Foods

Sometimes when you think you have a junk food craving, you may just have a craving for a certain flavor or sensation such as sweet, salty, or crunchy. But to satisfy that craving, you don’t necessarily have to eat unhealthy food. For example, if you’re craving something sweet in the middle of the day, reach for some dates or an apple instead of getting a candy bar from the vending machine. If you want something salty and crunchy, some roasted almonds may serve you just as well as a bag of potato chips. If you’re craving a soda to quench your thirst, you may just be looking for something crisp, cold, and carbonated, in which case a sparkling water could do the trick.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Starting your morning with a healthy, filling breakfast is one of the best ways to curb cravings during the day. A healthy breakfast can not only make you feel fuller into the afternoon, but research also suggests it increases dopamine levels in the brain, decreasing the likelihood you’ll crave sugary processed food for that quick rush of pleasure. Look for breakfast options that are high in protein and fiber such as oats, yogurt, fruit, whole grains, and eggs. Every week on the Zero Doubt Club Meal Prep Menu, you’ll find healthy, delicious breakfasts that can help you keep your cravings in check.

-Jared Kent, Chef Zero Doubt Club

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