When you’re trying to lose weight and get healthier, junk food can be the kryptonite to your super powers, the dish soap to your grease, the stain fighter to your dirty laundry. In short: It can break you down, no matter how tough you are.
That’s why finding ways to avoid these types of food cravings to begin with is the best defense when it comes to finally meeting your goals and achieving your dreams. Or, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In this case, it can be worth several pounds.
So what can you do to keep goal-robbing junk food cravings at bay?
Perhaps board certified Clinical Nutritionist Byron J. Richards explains it best by saying that “food acquisition is all about survival and is tied, potentially to these same forces.” In other words, if your blood sugar drops too low because you’re not eating often enough, your body is going to tell your brain that you need to eat so it doesn’t parish. Hence, this is how junk food cravings typically begin.
To avoid this primal response then, you need to eat regularly. This means starting with a healthy, breakfast first thing in the morning and then getting some food in your system every 2-4 hours thereafter. Because you’re going to be eating more often, these meals should be smaller in size, allowing you to keep your calorie intake where it should be.
Consume More Protein
Typically, watching what you eat is synonymous with increased hunger. And when you spend all day fighting the urge to munch on something, it only goes to reason that, at some point, you’re likely to give in to your cravings and consume something you’ll later wish you hadn’t.
One way to ease hunger pangs is to increase your protein intake. This particular macronutrient is extremely filling and will usually keep you satisfied for longer periods of time. Some healthy protein sources to consider include seafood, poultry, eggs, beans, and lean meats. Nuts are good too, just make sure to eat them in moderation, as they’re easy to overdo.
Limit Your Sugar Consumption (Artificial Sugars Too!)
Have you ever noticed that after you eat or drink something sweet, you crave more sugar the rest of the day? That’s because your body likes how it feels after consuming sugar, so it pushes you to take in more to feel that way again. And it responds this way whether the sugar is real or artificial in nature. For this reason, you’re better off limiting your sugar consumption. At a minimum, if you’re going to eat something sugary, don’t do it on an empty stomach. By mixing it in with other foods, you’ll lessen its effect on your body, potentially keeping you from craving more.
Notice also that this tip didn’t suggest that you banish sugar from your diet completely. While that may be healthier for you, the reality is that a treat every now and again isn’t going to hurt. In fact, it may even help because then you won’t feel so deprived and tempted to binge. To keep these treats in check, it may help to set a specific day for your sugary indulgences. That way you’ll have something to look forward to and it will make limiting sugar the rest of the time an easier thought to bear.
Do these three things and you’ll likely notice your junk food cravings diminish, if not leave you entirely. Wouldn’t that be a great feeling?