ASK THE EXPERTS: how to kick junk food cravings for good!
Summer's almost over and you (sort of) managed to deny all those sugary, creamy, buttery treats for the sake of fitting into your warm-weather fashions. But with cooler temps approaching, you may be tempted to reach for those flaming hot cheetos to "warm" you up.
OK. Go ahead. Grab a handful. Or two. But you know what's on the other side of that empty bag...Regret. Disappointment. Bloating.
So why do we do it to ourselves? Why are we seduced by temporary pleasure in exchange for lasting discomfort? Well, don't be too hard on yourself. Here are just a few of the reasons we struggle to resist the junk!
- The ingredients are highly addictive. Processed sugars, salts and artificial ingredients are "drug" like - keeping you hooked chemically...and that's intentional.
- Junk food caters to our emotional imbalances. We eat when we're happy, sad, nervous, bored.
- We don't really know what's in junk food or the internal damage it’s causing. Do you know what "red 40" is?
- Junk food is convenient and cheap. Every corner store sells chips..buy-one-get-one-free.
In a salty nutshell, we're addicted to these indulgent treats on an emotional, mental and physical level. So...to permanently adopt healthier habits, we must do so holistically. To tackle this mountainous challenge, I asked 4 of the top health experts how to transition off a junk food diet - spirit, mind and body.
nicole chaplin - "Eat to fuel your body, not nurse your emotions"
Emotionally transitioning off junk food is hard but feasible. It's important to use food as fuel and try your best to eat well no matter the situation. In our society, we eat for happy times as well as bad. When we're sad, sometimes we go for an unhealthy snack, treat or meal thinking it'll change our mood. But after, it can make us feel bad knowing we shouldn't have eaten that. This is why we should remember to eat without being emotional and be smart about eating healthier and clean. Indulge in things that are treats but not as a meal or daily routine.
whitney patterson - "hire a professional counselor for emotional distress"
For a lot of us, food is directly linked to our emotions. I’m not talking about eating a piece of cake at a celebration. I’m talking about eating because you’re stressed, anxious, sad, depressed, etc. If you find yourself heading for the fridge every time you’re in emotional turmoil, you might need to seek help. Most likely you’re using food to cover up or cope with a situation. I know there’s a stigma in the black community about counseling and therapy, but there’s nothing wrong with seeking help. You can't be your best and healthiest self while dragging around emotional baggage. Ask around for a reputable counselor. Look to see what resources your insurance covers. A lot of times they have emergency employee services that cover 3 - 5 free counseling sessions.
koya webb - "eat to show compassion towards your body"
The best way to spiritually transition off a junk food diet is to know that the spirit is LOVE. Eating in a way that is compassionate to the world and to your body will promote oneness within your soul. We are all ONE.
latricia wright - "keep an emotional food diary"
Journal what you eat and your attitude towards, or thoughts about the food you eat. Keeping a food diary is a great way to identify our connection with food as well as our thoughts about and reasons for consuming such foods. Replace unhealthy thoughts with positive thinking and junk food with healthy food replacement.
NICOLE chaplin - "be intentional about making better food choices"
Transitioning off junk food has to be intentional. It's important to look at food as fuel. If you eat well, you'll feel better and mentally make better decisions. The body is all interconnected.
WHITNEY patterson - "surround yourself with accountability partners"
You have to really, really want to make changes in your life! You must have a support system around you or else you’ll most likely slip back into your old habits. If you can’t get anyone in your house to take the journey with you, join an online group or go to an event or meet up in your city. Finding accountability and encouragement with like-minded individuals is one of the best ways to break the mental hold that junk food has over you.
KOYA webb - "know your self-worth"
Know that you are worth the best, most nutrient dense food the planet has to offer and only consume the best.
LATRICIA wright - "identify your why"
First identify the why. Then post literature or photographs that supports your why in your wallet, on the refrigerator and on mirrors throughout your home. This simple act serves as a constant reminder as to why you chose a healthier lifestyle.
NICOLE chaplin - "read food labels for nutritional values"
Think of the choices that you are making. When you decide what to eat, look at the nutritional value of what you're eating. The better and higher quality the food, the better you're going to feel.
WHITNEY patterson - "upgrade your ingredients"
The key is to take baby steps. If you try to transition to a healthy diet overnight you’ll probably fail. You must set realistic expectations for your new healthy lifestyle. Try these 3 steps:
- Stop buying it - When you’re at the store, don’t buy your go-to junk food snacks. Cakes, cookies, chips, candy, ice cream anything prepackaged that usually gets you into trouble. Simply don’t purchase it. Choose 1 or 2 healthier replacement snacks. Your new healthy snacks don’t have to be perfect. The key is to make a better choice than your go to bag of Doritos. For example, swap ice cream for yogurt, chips for trail mix and candy bars for Kind bars.
- Make your favorite recipes a bit healthier - Instead of introducing all new recipes all at once, try to make your favorite meals a bit healthier. Love deep-dish pepperoni pizza? Try a homemade thin crust veggie pizza. Swap fried chicken and mashed potatoes for oven baked chicken and faux mashed potatoes made with cauliflower. Every little swap adds up.
- Only introduce one new healthy item per week - In the tradition of baby steps, don’t swap every thing in your fridge for something new. You’ll set yourself up to fail. Instead, try adding one new healthy item per week and buy it in small quantities just in case you don’t like it. Curious about kale chips? Try them out. Want to try quinoa? Go for it. Remember, you won’t like everything and some healthy items take a bit of time or just the right recipe to be suitable for you. The key is to try things slowly and don’t rule anything out until you’ve tried it a few times.
KOYA webb - "follow a plant-based vegan diet"
Stay away from processed foods and only eat real, whole, foods. I follow a plant based vegan diet because it's the best diet for my body and is also healthy for the planet.
LATRICIA wright - "try one new healthy food per week"
Commit to incorporating one new food a week that supports a balanced body chemistry. Doing so can offset cravings for foods that create imbalance.
Try out these awesome tips and get a handle on junk food once and for all! Comment below and share what strategies have worked for you!
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