How can I avoid cravings for junk food?Ken Bendor
Cravings are generally bad because they lead you to eat unhealthy junk food filled with empty calories. Letting yourself get into a state where cravings happen often can decrease your overall health and slow down any weight loss plans you have. There are however several steps you can take to avoid cravings and improve your overall nutrition.
Why is junk food destructive to a diet?
Junk foods are bad for a diet (on a regular basis – see cheat day below) because of the types of calories they are made up of. Junk food is usually high in empty calories – energy dense foods that contains little or no nutritional value. Junk food only gives you energy while skimping on important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
In addition to having very little nutritional value, junk food is usually high in simple and refined carbohydrates. These types of carbs travel through your system very quickly. Because of this quick digestion time, these foods will not keep you full and you will end up eating more throughout the day to keep yourself satisfied. Junk food promotes an increased calorie intake and unwanted weight gain.
Cravings happen when you get hungry and they’re usually for foods that are unhealthy and typically off limits when you’re trying to lose weight or improve your eating habits. Because most cravings happen when you’re hungry, the best way to avoid cravings, is to avoid hunger.
Small Frequent Meals
To avoid hunger, rather than eating three large meals throughout the day eat smaller meals and fill the time between them with healthy snacks that will keep you full. By avoiding hungry, you are less likely to get cravings for junk.
Healthy snacks should be high in nutrients and keep you full until your next meal. Complex carbs and fiber are two ingredients in food that can help keep you full. Because of their structures, complex carbs and fiber move through your system very slowly. This will help to keep you full and eating less. Foods high in complex carbs and fiber include fruits, vegetables, 100% whole wheat products, brown rice and beans. Other healthy snacks include nuts, tuna, chicken breast, eggs and salads.
Water is often thought of as some sort of miracle juice that speeds up your metabolism and cures all your ills. There’s nothing magical about water. Water won’t speed up your metabolism or help you burn more calories. Water however, will keep you full to a point. Don’t drink water in an attempt to avoid eating. Instead, drink regular amounts of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated and lengthen the digestion time on the food you’ve already eaten. Water can’t replace food, but it can help you eat less.
Even though most junk food is harmful to a diet, letting yourself enjoy the food you love once in a while is healthy. Junk food is only bad if it’s eaten on a regular and very often basis. Having a cheat day once a week will actually help keep your diet on track.
Diets have a lot of rules and restrictions. Often, losing weight or eating healthy requires that we give up some of our favorite foods such as Chinese take out, pizza, fast food, cookies or ice cream. Unfortunately, we love these foods so much that we can only deprive ourselves for so long before our diets break. This is why it’s important to have a release valve to our diets. Give yourself a cheat day once a week during which you don’t need to worry about how many calories you eat or whether or not all of your snacks are healthy. As long as you don’t go too crazy, you’ll be fine.
The Bottom Line
Remember that to avoid cravings, you need to get rid of hunger and to get rid of hunger you need to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Focus on eating healthy snacks that will help with your weight loss while avoiding junk that will set you back.