AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

Recent studies prove that junk food addiction is a real, measurable thing, and that a complete change in habits is needed to get that unhealthy monkey off of your back – very similar to the habit overhaul required for a cigarette smoker to go cold turkey.

If you’re ready to stop letting junk food control the way you eat, the way you look, and the way you feel, the first and most obvious step is replacing those snacks with healthier alternatives, but there is more to a confidently executed change in lifestyle than simple food swapping; follow these five steps to reclaim your mind and body from the grip of a junk food addiction:

5 Steps to Overcoming Junk Food Addiction

1. Accept the Problem

For most of us with a junk food habit that has gotten out of control, acceptance must be a two-part endeavor.

First is the easy part: you must accept that indulging in unhealthy grub has become a real problem with visible results. Given that junk food tends to have obvious effects on your body, such as causing you to become overweight, it’s unlikely that you’re prepared to deny the problem itself, which brings us the hard part: acknowledging that the problem is overcomable.

No matter how deep in junk food you are, or how long it has played a major role in your life, you have to accept not only that it is a problem, but that it is a problem that you – and only you – can control and fix.

2. Take Stock

Now that we’ve established that the problem exists and that the best tool for fixing it lies in your own mind, it’s time to get down into the nitty gritty of things, taking accurate stock of the facts and figures behind your addiction. The points you’ll want to cover are:

  • How many junk food calories am I eating per day?
  • During what part of the day do I eat most of those calories?
  • How big a role does fast-food and take-out play in my addiction?

Be careful not to let bad foods fly under your radar here; for example, chicken that you fry at home is no better than that purchased from a fast-food joint, even if you do call it a “home-cooked meal.” Unhealthy is unhealthy right across the board, and you’ll not do yourself any favors by pulling punches at this point.

The idea behind taking stock of the habit’s nuances is enabling yourself to spot patterns in your eating habits, giving you the knowledge you need to be effective in making this change. For example, if you’re eating take-out on a regular basis, part of the fix may entail reworking your schedule in order to make more time to cook.

Keep your eyes peeled as you get a mental handle on things; you need all of the ammo you can get!

3. Deep Analysis

Once you’ve covered the details of your addiction, it’s time to look a little more deeply at the root of the problem itself, and this involves asking yourself exactly why you are turning to junk food as often as you are.

Now, there are two answers that almost every junk food addict has to that question, and they’ll likely spring to your mind as well: junk food is often cheaper than its alternatives when eating out, and, no matter how much it costs, it just happens to taste great. Those shallow reasons are unlikely to have much to do with the real reasons that junk food addiction has become a problem in your life, but that doesn’t mean they’re not true, so let’s tackle them right away.

Yes, fast food is often cheaper than more healthier options when dining out, but there is one very good reason to throw this excuse right out the door: no matter what you may have heard, eating healthy foods that are prepared at home is, on average, cheaper than cooking unhealthy foods, and it is always cheaper than dining out, even at a burger joint.

The issue of great taste is much more subjective, and it is often true for any one of us that a chocolate cookie or bag of potato chips tastes better than an apple or a carrot, but you have to wonder if that is an idea that has come upon you gradually, building up over the duration of your relationship with junk food.

Given that most of us start indulging in sweet treats on a regular basis at a very young age, this relationship has likely been going on so long that you’ve not given your body – or your tastebuds – the opportunity to acclimatize to healthier foods. If that is true, then working yourself towards a lasting happiness with alternative snacks is entirely possible, requiring only that you fake it until you make it by sticking it out during the early part of your new, healthier lifestyle.

4. Embrace the Challenge

Because we all use different methods to motivate ourselves, I’ll not waste your time with empty promises and well-worn cliches. Like any addiction, this one is going to be difficult to break out of once and for all, so you’ll need to get yourself mentally pumped up before you get started, embracing the challenge of being a healthier you, and always staying focused on the personal goals that you’ve set.

5. Make Lifestyle Changes

One of the easiest ways to fail when attempting to change any habit is to leave all of its surrounding circumstances the same. For example, a smoker who always has a puff with their morning coffee would do well to drink tea instead, enabling them to make a clean break from the vicious cycle of routine that makes it so difficult to change any one habit in the vortex of minute-to-minute variables that we exist in.

Generally speaking, there are two types of habits that you need to analyze at this stage of the game: mental habits, and physical habits.
Mental Habits
Taking stock of why you eat is the most important factor when it comes to separating the way we feel from the food we eat, making it a personal endeavor that will be unique to every individual, though some commonalities can be expected. For example, many of us turn to food as a form of comfort during difficult times, a perfectly natural response giving the life-giving essence of food – unfortunately, grabbing a bite to eat in a moment of crisis almost always entails turning to an unhealthy, pre-packaged snack as opposed to hitting the kitchen for 20 minutes of salad preparation.

No matter why you eat, you’ll need to begin to separate your emotions from your food in order to give yourself more in-the-moment control over what, when, and how much you consume.
Physical Habits
Thankfully, this one ranks as much easier than its mental counterpart, harkening us back to the smoking example. Everything we do is closely linked with where we are, and this is easy to see for yourself where eating is concerned.

Surveys routinely show that the majority of people eat nearly 100 percent of their food in only two or three different locations, and that makes the main task of changing physical circumstances in order to deter junk food indulgence a fairly easy one. When I find myself turning too often to a bag of potato chips while I’m relaxing, for example, I know that I need to make a personal commitment to not eat on the sofa.

For those of us who find ourselves in a bit of an activity rut – and most of us do from time to time – this task can really be quite enjoyable, giving you an excuse to shake things up in ways that you may have been simultaneously putting off and looking forward to, making life a bit more exciting in the process.

At the end of the day, it is the lifestyle changes that will make or break your attempt to be done with junk food once and for all, and this means that you have to absolutely commit to a new way of living before you get started. The one promise that I can make to each and every person reading this is that you will feel and look better in no time, especially if you’ve added exercise to the mix.

No pain, no gain – but it will all be so worth it!

Categories: Health concerns

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