How Do I Satisfy Junk Food Cravings?
“How do I satisfy junk food cravings?” is a question individuals often consider after filling up on potato chips, stopping for ice cream or eating the cookies in the office kitchen. It’s usually the aftermath that causes remorse and makes people wonder what drove them to the junk food in the first place.
Let’s face it, the reality is junk food tastes good! It typically satisfies a craving or perceived need in the moment, making it taste even better. However, we are often left feeling empty and wishing we wouldn’t have given in. The key to success is figuring out how to satisfy the cravings before they start and knowing what to do if they come.
Here are the top five things to remember to prevent and deal with junk food cravings!
How to Prevent Junk Food Cravings
- Start the day with protein – Research suggests that starting the day with 20-30 grams of protein can help you feel satisfied with less later in the day. Beginning the morning with a protein and fiber-rich breakfast will launch your energy levels in the right direction! Eggs, toast and fruit or oatmeal with nuts and a Greek yogurt are nutrient-rich ideas.
- Eat at regular intervals – Skipping meals can cause low blood sugar and set you up to crave sugar and fat–filled foods later in the day. Scheduling meals and snacks every 3 to 4 hours can stabilize blood sugar and keep the cravings away.
- Don’t go places hungry – Going grocery shopping, to a party or to happy hour hungry is never a good idea as you will start reaching for food the second you get there. Or maybe worse, you fill your shopping cart with tasty junk foods to take home with you. Remember, your eyes are typically bigger than your stomach when you feel hungry and that can lead to overeating high-calorie foods.
- Allow yourself small splurges – Depriving yourself will set you up to crave junk food. Schedule in a splurge or treat one to two times a week to satisfy your taste buds and the reward system in your brain. Try sharing your favorite snack food with someone or being satisfied with a smaller portion.
- Choose your company wisely – If you have friends that you are more likely to indulge with, prepare for it. Maybe you eat a snack before you hang out with them or plan to eat at a healthy restaurant where nutrient-rich choices are available.
How to Deal with Junk Food Cravings
- Have healthy alternatives available – Many people reach for salty or sweet junk food because that is what’s available. Filling your kitchen, office and computer bag with healthy alternatives like fruit, energy bars and individually packaged nuts can help you reach for the right thing when you feel hungry!
- Eat a variety of colors and foods – Filling your diet with nutrient-rich food and colorful fruits and vegetables allows less room for junk food. When meals and snacks satisfy you with fiber, protein and healthy fat, you are less likely to crave calorie-dense foods in between.
- Evaluate if you are hungry – When you start reaching for something salty or sweet, ask yourself if you are really hungry. Sometimes you might be reaching out of boredom, stress or low energy. Have you eaten lately? Are you thirsty? Do you need some fresh air? Ask these awareness questions before indulging mindlessly.
- Have a back-up plan – If you notice yourself looking for a snack, go for a walk, call a friend or have a plan for what activity you can do instead. Planning for spur-of-the-moment cravings can help you be successful in the moment of crisis.
- Don’t totally eliminate junk food! All foods can fit in a healthy eating pattern, but some foods should fit less often. You may never think about chocolate cake, but the second you tell yourself you can’t have it, that is all you will likely focus on. So, don’t focus on what you can’t have, focus on what you can have!
If you are interested to hear more and receive personalized nutrition, check out STYR’s app, fitness tracker and suite of connected smart devices. Through the platform, you can track and log activity, food, hydration, sleep, nutrition, mood and more to personalize your nutrition needs based on data, science and access to registered dietitians, nutritionists and personal trainers.
Please note that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We insist that you always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical/health condition or treatment and before initiating a new health care regime. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the STYR app or on www.MyNutritioniQ.com.