Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- 1. Stay Hydrated
- 2. Have Healthy Snack Options on Hand
- Eat Less Meat Without Losing Protein With 5 Killer Protein Substitutes
- 3. Eat More Protein
- 4. Break Up Your Snack Routine
- 5. Eat Regularly
- 6. Go for a Walk
- 8 Ways Nature Boosts Your Total Health And Wellness
- 7. Practice Mindful Eating
- 8. Reduce Stress
- 9. Distract Your Mind
- 10. Get Better Sleep
Your favorite bright, sugary breakfast cereal.
A soda and bag of chips to “get you through” the end of your work day.
A post-dinner bowl of ice cream while you catch up on your favorite shows.
Have you been craving outrageous amounts of junk food lately?
If so, you’re not alone. As a society, we’re under more stress than ever—and seeking comfort in sugary snacks and salty treats is one way to soothe your nerves.
Unfortunately, the more junk food you eat, the more you’ll crave it. The result? An endless cycle that leaves you feeling tired, overweight, and frustrated.
Your junk food habit may feel impossible to overcome, but it isn’t. And we’re here to help you.
With just a few shifts to your current lifestyle, you can eliminate your junk food habit and make healthy, nutritious foods the focus of your diet.
Top 10 Ways to Curb Your Junk Food Habit
Ready to say goodbye to your junk food habit and those late-night snack binges?
Here are our favorite strategies for giving up junk food and switching to a healthy, feel-good diet.
1. Stay Hydrated
You might not be hungry; you might just be thirsty. Dehydration is easily mistaken for hunger, prompting you to reach for chips when you really just need a glass of water.
Next time you experience sudden hunger, try this. Drink a tall glass of water (or other healthy beverage). Then wait a few minutes before snacking to see if that eliminates your hunger.
Water is also great before a meal, reducing your appetite and the chance of un-ignorable cravings.
2. Have Healthy Snack Options on Hand
Sometimes, nothing you do will curb your hunger. But just because your appetite is genuine doesn’t mean you have to indulge in an unhealthy option.
Craving something sweet? A delicious and healthy fruit parfait is just the thing. In the mood for something salty? Ignore the chips and try some nutritious nuts instead. You’ll conquer your junk food craving and add nutritional value, at the same time.
Of course, the only way to eat a healthy snack is to have it readily available, so be sure you add your favorite choices to your grocery list. And when you get home, do whatever is necessary to prepare it: wash fruit, cube cheese, slice red peppers, and so on. It’ll make eating healthy even easier!
While you’re at it, try reorganizing your kitchen to keep the temptations out of sight. Researchers have found that households with fruit on the counter had lower BMIs. And households with unhealthy treats in plain view, such as sodas and candy, had a higher average weight.
3. Eat More Protein
Protein-rich meals and snacks will leave you feeling fuller longer. This reduces your appetite, helping you avoid your unhealthy snack habit.
On top of that, studies show that starting your day with a protein-rich breakfast can significantly reduce your snack cravings throughout the day.
Even better, protein can curb late-night hunger. One recent study showed that upping your protein intake can reduce nighttime snacking by a whopping 50%!
4. Break Up Your Snack Routine
Are there certain times of the day that you’ve gotten used to eating? Maybe it’s your 10:30 a.m. coffee and pastry break, or a late afternoon trip to the vending machine.
Whatever the reason, your body has gotten used to a certain treat at a certain time, bringing on the timed cravings.
Beat these regular cravings by changing up your routine. Eat fresh fruit at 10:20, so your stomach won’t growl for pastries. Or walk past the vending machine and take a loop around the office to shift your focus.
5. Eat Regularly
It’s harder to fight off snack cravings when your stomach is growling.
Eat three regular meals or five small ones, whichever your body naturally prefers, to keep your stomach from getting too empty.
This should help curb a lot of your between-meal snack cravings. But keeping healthy snacks on hand will make it easier to snack between meals when you need it, keep your blood sugar steady, and avoid uncontrollable cravings.
6. Go for a Walk
According to studies, a 15-minute brisk walk reduces the urge for a sugary snack. Next time you’re craving brownies, try going for a walk around the block instead.
If you’re still hungry when you get back, you’ll be more likely to choose something healthy.
And bonus points if you take your walk outside. Spending time in nature is a known stress-buster, and stress can cause snack cravings (more on that later!).
7. Practice Mindful Eating
When you’re eating your snacks, stay mindful and present. Eat your food slowly, without the distraction of electronics. Use all five senses to take in the details of your food. Focus on your chewing and the flavors it releases.
Eating mindfully slows down snack time. You’ll notice yourself getting fuller before you’ve overeaten.
Practicing mindfulness is a boost to your parasympathetic system. This is the part of your nervous system that controls your body ability to relax, the “rest and digest” state. When it’s activated, it reduces food cravings and helps you avoid emotional eating.
8. Reduce Stress
A high-stress lifestyle can wreak havoc on your diet with cravings for large amounts of junk food.
Whenever possible, stay away from your stress triggers. If stress is unavoidable, there are stress management techniques that can help, such as meditating, exercising, and spending time in nature.
9. Distract Your Mind
Ever notice how much more you snack when you’re sitting around the house with nothing to do? It’s because boredom causes hunger. Your mind, with nothing else to focus on, turns to food.
Before reaching for a snack, try distracting your mind. Work on a puzzle, listen to music, call a friend, read a book, or try another activity that engages your thoughts.
10. Get Better Sleep
They’re called the “midnight munchies” for a reason. Those cravings come later at night when it’s been a few hours since dinner and your stomach is no longer full. Try going to bed earlier, before those cravings kick in.
Getting better sleep (more hours and higher quality) can help your brain fight off cravings. A recent study shows that a lack of sleep is detrimental to the region of your brain responsible for appetite evaluation. It also increases the desire for high-calorie foods.
Ideally, adults should aim for somewhere between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. If that’s not possible for you, taking a short nap is effective, too.
Probiotics: Your Secret Weapon Against Junk Food Cravings
When your gut microbiome is properly balanced, your good bacteria will outweigh the bad in both quantity and quality.
Unfortunately, the opposite case is usually the truth. The pathogenic bacteria colonies are thriving and leaving little to no room for the beneficial bacteria to flourish, a state known as dysbiosis.
Dysbiosis has numerous short- and long-term negative effects on your mind, body, and emotions. Many of these affect the digestive system, from the onset of food allergies to digestive issues. Among them? Increased cravings for unhealthy foods.
As unbelievable as it may seem, studies show that the bacteria in your gut help determine the foods that you crave. And when pathogenic bacteria take over your gut microbiome, you’ll find yourself in the mood for high-fat, high-sugar snacks.
What’s more, different strands of bacteria crave different unhealthy foods:
- Bacteroidetes prefer fat
- Prevotella want carbs
When you eat the foods they like, bad bacteria release hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, the “happy hormones.” This makes you feel good after eating certain foods and will lead to you (emotionally) craving even more of them.
An overgrowth of bad bacteria in your gut can even change your taste receptors, making you prefer sweet flavors over healthier choices.
On a bacterial level, then, if you want to reduce junk food cravings, you should strive to make sure that your good bacteria outnumber and outweigh the bad ones.
One great way to do that is with probiotics.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in certain foods, drinks, and supplements that are similar (or identical) to the good bacteria already living in your gut.
When you consume probiotics, they join those colonies of good bacteria. Since your gut has a limited amount of “real estate,” they crowd out the bad bacteria, reduce their numbers, and eventually lead to a happy, healthy, balanced gut.
Probiotics in Food and Drink
Probiotics can be found naturally in certain foods and drinks, especially those that have been fermented. During this chemical process, the good bacteria that exist in these foods and drinks feed off of natural sugars and starches to multiply, with a probiotic-rich end result.
Some of the most popular probiotic-friendly foods include:
- Acidophilus milk
- Soft cheeses, such as Gouda
- Sourdough bread
Unfortunately, fermentation also results in a unique taste and scent, somewhere between sour and tangy. And it’s not for everyone.
If you don’t like fermented foods, or your lifestyle prohibits you from eating them, probiotic supplements are the best alternative.
Probiotic supplements also contain the same bacterial goodness as probiotic-rich foods but in an easily consumed pill.
But keep in mind that not all supplements are created equal. To maximize the benefits of your probiotic supplement, you have to choose the right one.
We recommend this probiotic from Just Thrive for two big, health-boosting reasons.
- Its high survivability rate guarantees that the bacterial spores contained in each capsule survive the harsh digestive environment and arrive in your gut ready to get to work!
- Its unique, patented strain not only contains the benefits of natural bacteria, but also produces antioxidants in your gut, where they are easily absorbed.
Ready to step away from those salty chips and sugar-laden sodas and candy?
Choosing healthier, more nutritious foods may seem like a big task, but it doesn’t have to be. With just a few tweaks to your lifestyle and mindset, your unhealthy eating habits can become a thing of the past.
Your body is going to love the nutritious, delicious choices you make, and you’re going to love the results: looking and feeling your very best!