Why did I stop craving unhealthy food
12 tips to stop junk food cravings forever
What do you think when you hear someone say: “Honesty, burgers or chips don't really interest me anymore. I'd rather have a salad ”? Likely that they are either lying or not real people. We get it - despite all of your good intentions and attempts to stick to a healthy diet, you crave junk food every day.,
Pizza calls your name As you walk past restaurants, you accidentally find some ice cream in the freezer and it disappears in a flash, or the thought of leftover pasta baking in the kitchen will keep you up at night.
We get it - pretty much everyone was there. Most of us live in an unhealthy food environment. We are surrounded by temptation and we grow up eating all of these very pleasant goodies. And our brains remember - they love it!
Our bodies, not so much.
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We are caught between wanting and not wanting, throw the chocolate bar in the trash and take it out again after half an hour (yes, we were there too).
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel! If you'd told us a few years ago that we'd be completely unimpressed by all of the fried foods, fries, and chocolate cake around us, we would have laughed.
Today we really want to reach for the veggie wrap, baked sweet potato, and avocado mousse while leaving the junk food behind.,
And we want to share with you how we (and many other people!) Did it.
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Cravings for junk food
If you switch to a plant-based, whole-foods diet and try to cut out animal-based foods and junk foods, chances are you'll be craving the very same items that you are trying to get rid of.
And sugar isn't the only fault here!
While we often hear of people trying to stop sugar cravings, this refined carbohydrate isn't exactly the bad guy it's often portrayed as.
Yes, it does cause your blood sugar to rise and fall rapidly and your brain to release the hormone dopamine - but so do other junk foods that, according to recent studies, are high in fat or salt.
Please know that cravings are not "bad" and that you will not always succumb to them - they have a reason, a source.
Cravings are signals that you want something that should be beneficial to you., We crave sleep, water, fun, social connection, food, and more.
The problem is that nowadays we have many unhealthy things to choose from to satisfy that need.
The best way to deal with cravings for destructive things is to replace them with "good" cravings - just as we now crave cheesy plant-based pasta or a creamy, starchy risotto instead of unhealthy meals.
That's because we've trained our minds to think of certain foods when we get hungry and trained our bodies to prefer healthy foods because we know how junk food feels to us.,
Unfortunately, most people do not know how to eat "healthy" - and sustainably - if they want to make changes.
They focus on eating lots of vegetables and salads and think they need to cut down on carbohydrates so that their meals end up boring, repetitive, and just not satisfying.
Nobody could stick to this type of diet and if you try you will likely not get any results in the long run!
Chewing too much calorie-thinned foods is one of the main reasons we crave junk food - simply put, our bodies are not getting enough energy, so we look for high-calorie sources to meet our physiological needs. It's just a survival mechanism.
While we don't want to encourage an unhealthy relationship with food, the harsh reality is that many of the things we find in grocery stores today are keeping us from feeling good and being healthy.,
We'd all be better off replacing candy with fruit while we're still half healthy on occasion. Agreed?
Let's stop junk food cravings for good
All right then let's go to the part where we tell you how to deal with cravings for unhealthy food.
Eat enough healthy filling food
Does that seem too obvious? Okay but are you really doing it? Often times, trying to eat healthier or plant-based foods goes hand in hand with loading vegetables - and not much else.,
Sure, you might feel full after a giant green salad, but how long does it take before the sugar cravings set in? Proper nutrition requires a good amount of complex carbohydrates (e.g. starches like potatoes, whole grains or legumes) as a base.
While it is possible to feel full of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, for most people it is not really sustainable. Strengths have built the nutritional basis of pretty much all successful, healthy races throughout human history.
They offer some nice health benefits and shouldn't take a back seat !, they're delicious, they're energizing, and they're slimming. So go for her!
Fill at least half of your plate with these filling foods and try to consume around 2000 calories in total. Do you think you'll want to reach for the chocolate after three baked potatoes, or would you be full by dinner?
Focus on nutrient density
Once you've made sure you're getting enough nutrition when it comes to calorie intake, let's examine the nutrients you're getting.,
Most people only think of "carbohydrates, protein, and fat," but what about all of the essential vitamins and minerals?
Your chocolate or chips cravings could actually be due to not eating enough green vegetables, and in reality, your body is craving just magnesium or iron.
Think of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds to meet your nutritional needs.
How to meet all nutritional needs →
We'd also like to mention the possibility that your body is only thirsty, especially when you crave moist food., Try drinking a glass of water or tea and see if you feel better! Don't use this tip to stop you from eating when you are actually hungry; All you have to do here is consider your fluid needs.
Have healthy foods available
The reason we sometimes choose unhealthy processed foods is simply because of a lack of choice. We can only eat what we buy in the store - and if you have frozen pizza and candy bars in your cart instead of a sack of rice and fresh vegetables, you'll eat that later.,
But there is more: we strongly recommend that you not just have a sack of rice somewhere in your kitchen - even better, have a batch of pre-cooked rice in the fridge. Or maybe some leftover bean chili. Fruit can do wonders with regards to sugar hunger, too!
In general, we try to batch cook our food as often as possible so that as soon as we get hungry we can chew on some filling strengths right away. This can also work with frozen leftovers that you just reheat in your microwave!
Since people are often drawn to convenience, we want your refrigerator to offer the fastest, most accessible meal at all times.
Quick & Simple Recipe Blueprints →
Make a Clear-Cut Commitment
Aside from having healthy foods at home, the next most important step in creating a healthy environment is simply to stop buying unhealthy foods.
Stick to your grocery list, have a big lunch before you go shopping, and don't challenge yourself to buy your go-to junk food for a period of time.,
Full vegan shopping list (free download) →
You can mark a day on the calendar to let yourself know when you want to stop eating x and commit to choosing healthier alternatives from then on.
Once you have other food in your kitchen, this is what you tend to eat more - out of sight, out of mind in relation to the junk food.
If you are looking for a very interesting read on this subject, we recommend “The Pleasure Trap” (Amazon Link) by Dr. Doug Lisle and Dr. Alan Goldhamer !,
Replace, not restrict
If you think about never eating chocolate or chips again, what is your immediate reaction? Something like panic?
This is the cycle we have been trapped in for many years. When faced with something being stolen from you against your will, your brain may go insane and want to protect you from starvation (because that would happen if you lived without chocolate, right?).
The answer to that is to find healthier alternatives to your favorite junk food !, you can also tackle food at a time.
How about whipping up an oil-free high protein pesto pasta or healthy chocolate chip cookie in place of the fatty, rich, unhealthy versions? Awesome replacement!
This crowding-out food strategy does not put your brain into "panic mode" due to a lack of food and trying to hoard everything in sight. Read our full article on smart food swaps for more.,
14 Tasty & Easy Food Swaps →
Change your routine
Cravings are often just a learned behavior, and you can retrain your brain to crave something else instead.
When you snuggle up on the couch and watch Netflix, you might first think of a bag of potato chips.
How about making your own oil-free sweet potato or veggie chips in the oven and feeding your body with low fat and nutritious goodness instead of feeling a little happy falling to the bottom of your plastic bag ?,
Humans are really creatures of habit, and you might feel a bit of resistance as you start thinking about changing things. But listen to us!
It is possible for these new choices to feel a little "off" the first few times, but sooner than later, all you crave will be those homemade baked chips - you will have used your tendency towards a routine to your advantage.
Another idea is to skip the "Reach for food even though you have eaten enough" step and instead do another wellbeing activity whenever you are looking for a dopamine hit (more on that below), because we really want that, rewards our brains for giving it a high-calorie source of food!
Granted, it will take some getting used to when it comes to making healthier choices, but in the end you will feel just as happy eating less stimulating (aka low-sugar, low-salt, and low-fat) foods.
Stick with it and enjoy the rewards! Check out the book "The Power of Habit" (Amazon Link) by Charles Duhigg for more information on the subject.,
Stick it out
While this is probably not what you want to hear right now, the longer you haven't eaten a particular food, the less you will crave it. The magic lies in your body sort of "forgetting" what it tastes like and feels like a certain junk food to have, so it becomes a lot less appealing.
Cravings work with pictures, and the better you can imagine yourself eating something delicious, the more you will want it.,
The longer you haven't been exposed to them, the more difficult it becomes for your mind to create a vivid picture of eating these unhealthy foods, as well as other memories that fade over time.
We crave what we've been eating in the past few days (or weeks) and your taste buds will change to find overly salty, fatty, or sweetened foods that are appalling.
We wouldn't have believed it ourselves, but potato chips and rich desserts are no longer really interesting to us and we would much rather opt for healthier delicacies like a vegan carrot cake.,
Bottom line: The longer you've been on a healthy plant-based diet and the more junk food you've pushed out, the less cravings you'll experience.
Think about the benefits
There are certainly a few reasons why you might want to stay away from unhealthy foods in the first place.
Maybe you are already struggling with health problems or you want to prevent them, maybe you just don't feel so well or you want to be a good example to someone else.,
Focusing on these from time to time will build your commitment and be able to add an extra serving of veggies to your plate that day, which will crowd out even more processed foods.
Once you stay away from really stimulating and tasty foods (or just have them as a treat), they taste so much better than almost every day!
Overall, your mindset will make the most of the difference in all of this, so you are well advised not to neglect this aspect. The easy part is just knowing which foods are healthy.,
Whole Food Plant-Based Diet Guide →
Perspective and detachment
When it comes down to it, cravings are just impulses, like feeling tired or hot or excited about something.
As long as you make sure that you are properly nourished and have your nutritional needs met for the day, you can relax and just watch the waves that a particular food comes back and goes in.
These mindfulness practices are very helpful in life in general and definitely apply to your goal of wanting to make healthier food choices. Once you know that these urges are just automatisms created by your brain, you can somehow separate yourself knowing that that you don't have to follow them.
This gives you more time to react and choose what you really want in that moment.
Maybe it really is this chocolate cake, so eat it mindfully, experience it with all its properties and then rate how it made you feel.
Was it as tasty as expected? How does your body react? Is the desire gone now or has it sent you down the rabbit hole?
Train your brain
Similar to the tip on changing your routine, this one works by tweaking the habits you've already established. So many different situations can trigger cravings for unhealthy food or comfort food - especially since food is very strongly linked to emotions.
We associate food with memories, traditions, people and places.
When we celebrate, we eat cake.
When we are sad, we have ice cream.
If we want to be pampered, we order the big pizza.,
When we think about giving up these foods, we fear that we will lose all of these connections and coping mechanisms, the memories and the good times.
But by simply replacing the associations, not all about the food, but about the positive experience and finding healthy and delicious substitutes for our festive food choices, we can create useful habits!
Easy & healthy ice cream recipe →
Reframe healthy eating
Does the idea of eating your vegetables every day make you shudder a bit ?, This is probably because you think they won't be satisfying - it certainly couldn't achieve good flavors or fullness that way.
Nobody wants to make such a change under this impression!
But remember to associate whole plant-based foods with the sense of nourishment, showing love and respect, and leading a long and pain-free life - how colorful cashew cheese lasagnas can easily replace the meat and milk casseroles.,
The reason you think healthy eating is boring or unsustainable is because you are not consuming enough calories, which inevitably leaves your body ravenous and constantly searching for food and making it 100 times more difficult to choose healthy dishes .
Carve your new way
Forget the concept of cheating on your diet or having a cheat meal - these exceptions only annoy you with the food you want to avoid.
What we're looking for is good nutrition most of the time and a little fun on the side., Nobody wants you to stick to 100% healthy foods, and that kind of thinking can really get in your way.
A big part of changing your food environment is learning the difference between good and bad foods.
Much of your food exposure is beyond your control, and we don't want you to keep struggling with yourself trying to control everything.
There's a better, gentler, and ultimately more sustainable way to eat healthily!
Sometimes the craving just goes away when you let some time go by and do something completely different that either distracts you (like brushing your teeth to signal your brain that meal time is up) or increases your overall happiness!
Going outside and moving your body, playing with your pet or child - the fun you have in these activities lasts much longer and feels much better than a few bites of a candy bar.
Now you can stop junk food cravings!
We hope that these ideas and insights have given you a better understanding of where your cravings for junk food come from and how to prevent them.
If you've just read this article while you are really craving, we're not going to let you down! Download our free Cravings Guide by clicking the button below.
Here is a list of quick, tasty, and healthy snacks to make when you get cravings, as well as some very simple recipes to help you prepare snacks in advance.,
We've also added a cravings checklist to help you figure out the missing parts of a junk food cravings-free life!
Free Cravings Cheat Sheets
Would it help you regularly have a small bite of the exact food you crave to stay healthy, or are you an all-or-nothing guy who is best when you eat junk food omit completely? What are your favorite healthy snack ideas? Share your experience with us in the comments below.,
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