When you’ve decided to eat a healthier diet, one of the biggest challenges can be overcoming your cravings or addictions to unhealthy food.
Some people really give themselves a hard time about it, but it’s important to realize that a lot of the most addictive foods have emotional connections in your brain that have been wired there for years.
If you’ve been eating certain junk foods for 5 years, then potentially it’s going to be difficult to break that habit. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t succeed in 2 weeks. Most junk foods are engineered to be as addictive as possible. Coca Cola actually contained cocaine (hence the name) when it was first released in America, until cocaine was banned.
While there are no illegal addictive substances in today’s junk foods, there are still many legal addictive ingredients used. Sugar is probably the worst ingredient added to many so called “foods”.
Sugar triggers the pleasure/addiction centres in the brain and the more you eat, the more you want. But sugar is destructive to the health of your body. It disrupts blood sugar control, brain chemistry and leaves an acidic residue called Advanced Glycation End products or AGEs.
These literally age your body, causing damage to the cells structure both internally in the arteries and in your skin’s appearance.
The first thing to do when you want to curb your cravings is get a reality check on what you actually eat.
Researchers were startled when they found that almost every diet program that worked had one thing that other diet programs didn’t: Their participants kept food journals. Subsequent research has shown that just keeping a food journal without consciously trying to change diets resulted in lost weight.
Even if you just want to live a healthier lifestyle, a food journal can help. It’ll help you make your food choices more consciously, so you eat healthier foods more consistently.
Keeping a food journal brings you face to face with your food choices. Without a food journal, it can be so easy to fool yourself that your diet isn’t too bad. But when you look at your journal and see you’ve had 5 bags of chips or bars of candy that week, the evidence is unmistakable.
At the end of the week, take a look at your eating habits. Were they what you expected? Did you eat more or less of certain foods than you expected?
Once you’ve got your reality check on what your diet is really like, you can decide how you’re going to eliminate the junk foods that you craved. For some people, the reality check is such a shock that they immediately eliminate all sugary, processed, junk foods.
For some people going “cold turkey” feels like too much of a challenge. If you’ve been eating one microwave dinner a day for the last 3 years, don’t try to just dump it for life immediately.
Instead, pick a percentage. Say, 50%. For the next month, you’ll cut your consumption of microwave dinners by 50%. The month after that, you can reduce it to just once a week. Finally, you can quit entirely.
This allows you to cut down on your intake of junk foods while still fulfilling some of the cravings. It makes the whole process a lot easier.
Supercharge Your Health with SuperFoods
We’ve been told over and over again that you are what you eat. The problem for many of us is that we just don’t know how to eat healthful foods and what’s worse, we don’t know how to prepare them.
Supercharge Your Health answers both of these questions by explaining in clear and concise language what makes these foods super and why we should be eating them. For example, did you know that beans can help regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels?
Each super food also includes several recipes so you are sure to find one you like. Learn more.
As you make changes, keep on with your food journal, so that you can also see your achievements right there on paper. Anytime you eat healthy foods, you can flip back through those pages and feel good about your progress.
According to Steven Covey, author of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” it takes about 30 days for a habit to become ingrained.
Developing the food journal habit might be difficult for the first week or two. But once you’ve got the habit down, it’ll virtually run on autopilot from then on.
Start by just jotting down what you ate in a small portable notebook. Use a physical notebook and a pen, rather than a digital device. It just feels more personal concrete. Keep this habit up for a week or two.
Once you’ve gotten used to taking out your notebook after everything you eat or drink (except water,) start also writing down the volume of the food and any other notes. For example, if something tastes unusually sweet, you can probably bet there’s extra sugar and calories in it.
Use Healthier Snack Alternatives
Instead of reaching for that jar of Pringles, why not reach for a bag of organic raw almonds? Instead of reaching for the Snickers bar, why not try low fat, high cacao dark chocolate? Instead of sweets, why not try no sugar dried fruits with a few nuts or seeds?
Ideally, if you want to have a snack, choose something with a combination of protein and carbs to keep you satisfied for longer.
Drink a Lot of Water
Water helps reduce hunger, but also helps stabilize the brain in many ways. It helps give you more mental clarity and emotional stability, so you’ll feel less tempted to eat junk food on a compulsion.
On a monthly basis, look at your dietary habits and set goals. For example, if you notice that you haven’t been getting enough greens, you could set a goal to eat at least one salad every two days. Or if you’ve been eating too many microwave dinners, you might set the goal to cut that amount by 50%.
By tracking what you’re actually eating, you’ll be able to come face to face with what you’re actually putting in your body. Often times you’ll change your dietary habits just because you don’t want to have to write down that you ate some junk food. It also really helps with settings and achieving your health goals.
Once you’ve gone a few months without junk/sugary foods, you’ll most likely find that you’ve lost your taste for them. In fact for most people, they find that the foods they used to enjoy now taste really unpleasant and so it becomes easy to say no to them!
Eat almonds for breakfast to avoid the mid-morning sugar rush
If you have a sudden urge for something sweet in the middle of the day to raise lagging energy levels, try eating almonds for breakfast – they should help keep you going for longer, a new study has discovered.
Almonds – a low glycemic food – help make you feel full for longer, and keep blood glucose levels down, say researchers from Purdue University.
High-glycemic foods – which include breakfast cereals such as Weetabix and Rice Krispies, white bread, doughnuts and waffles – are digested quickly, and result in rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels, often countered by eating something sweet.
(Source: Institute of Food Technologists’ Wellness 12 meeting, March 30, 2012).