Dietitians of Very Well Fit list the likely reasons why junk foods are so enticing, so you can learn how to resist the temptation of consuming them.
It is cheap
Junk foods are cheap and available. You can go to any fast food restaurant and order something off a dollar menu, or you can buy a "full meal" if you have a few bucks in your wallet. Inexpensive snacks and high-fat, high-sodium meals with low price tags are readily available at grocery stores.
It is convenient
Unhealthy snacks or fast foods lurk in vending machines, convenience stores and in checkout lanes of supermarkets, big-box retailers and even office-supply stores and other places that don’t typically sell food items. Instant meals are easy to prepare and you can stockpile "just add water" or reheatable/microwaveable processed foods in your kitchen cabinet or refrigerator for a long time.
It has become a habit
Because junk foods and fast foods are easy to find, easy to make and have textures people like or just flat out taste good, consuming them has become a habit for many.
Think about how your food choices could affect your health the next time you find yourself standing in line at a burger joint or staring at a vending machine. Switch from soda to water or a healthy fruit-veggie smoothie, for instance. Then, next week, swap out deep-fried chicken on your sandwich for grilled.
Here are some helpful tips to help curb your cravings for junk foods.
Deal with your trigger foods
Don't keep unhealthy foods you tend to crave within easy reach. Refrain from stocking up on chocolate chip cookies, especially if you can’t stop yourself from eating just one serving of 1-2 pieces and ending up eating the whole package.
According to a study published in the journal Nutrition, scientists have long believed that cravings for carbohydrates and other sugary foods are driven by a desire to improve mood due to the fact that consuming sweet treats increases serotonin levels in your brain. Serotonin, also a feel-good hormone, is a brain neurotransmitter that boosts your sense of well-being.
Get enough sleep
Scientific studies, including one published in the journal Nature Communications, have determined that lack of sleep is often followed by an increase in cravings for sweet, salty, and starchy foods.
A study published in the journal Sleep showed that sleep deprivation causes an increase in overall hunger, which can lead to cravings for sugar, salt, fat or all of them.
Other studies suggest that sleep deprivation causes shifts in your hormones:
Manage your stress
If you are experiencing stress at home, at school, on the job or in your relationship, you may seek comfort from food. Junk foods can pretty much hit you hard. Sweet, salty, fatty or a combination of all three make for textures people like. Given sugar’s effect on your feel-good hormone, sweet foods are a natural choice when you’re feeling down.
Consider whether it’s craving or hunger
There is a difference between having the physical feelings of hunger and the mental and emotional feelings of craving something. If you are hungry and it’s not close to mealtime, you should probably eat something. (Related: Beat your sugar cravings once and for all: Five unconventional solutions.)
Choose the most nutritious snack options
There is plenty of nutrient-dense, whole foods that can satisfy a craving for something sweet or salty. Fresh berries, a fruit smoothie or a slice of whole-grain toast with almond butter can help conquer your cravings for junk foods and provide you important nutritional value. (Related: Top 5 healthy foods that fight sugar cravings.)
Don't skip meals
If you are fasting, or simply not consuming enough calories to meet your body's needs, your sugar cravings are likely to increase because your body is craving that quick energy – a sugar high. (Related: Use these tips to break the sugar habit and prevent cravings - opinion.)
When your stomach isn't growling, it can make it a lot easier to ward off any cravings so don't skip your regular meals. Begin with a healthy breakfast to start off your day and follow this up with a nutritious lunch and dinner.
Drink water or a low-calorie beverage
Drinking a tall glass of water might serve as a distraction and help you remain adequately hydrated as well. When you are dehydrated, it is possible for you to feel hungrier than usual. Making sure you drink at least eight glasses a day may help to keep your cravings at bay. If plain water sounds boring, add a slice or two of lemon, lime or cucumber.
Go for a walk
Stave off your cravings with a little exercise and go outside for a walk, according to a scientific article published in the journal Nutrition Reviews.
If you can't or don't want to go outside, do a few minutes of calisthenics or stretching exercises. Besides serving as a distraction, physical activity might help reduce any stress that could be contributing to your cravings.
Phone a friend
Call or text a family member or a friend to whom you can talk about your craving. It is always nice to have someone in your corner who can support your efforts to improve your health.
Read more stories like this at JunkFood.news.
Watch this video to learn why sugar cravings are an addiction.
This video is from the Progressive Voices Gary Null channel on Brighteon.com.