Junk food has infiltrated our homes, schools and offices. We can’t run an errand without standing next to a counter full of candy, we can’t buy a coffee without being tempted with biscotti and pastries, and we can’t walk down the hallway without the temptation of a vending machine or a colleague’s birthday treats.
So why does junk food have so much power over us? Because it’s designed to. The sugar, salt, fat and all of the other ingredients of junk food are designed to make us want more. In fact, sugar has been proven to be eight times more addictive than cocaine. Yes, eight! We don’t stand a chance, and it’s no wonder we can’t say no.
Many experts believe the sugar and chemicals used in processed foods are at the heart of the obesity epidemic and the root of many diseases. Knowing this, makes paying attention to what we eat more important than ever. We have to stop thinking of nutrition as a way of fueling our bodies for right now and start thinking of how we can fuel it for long-term health and well-being.
So, how exactly do we kick our junk-food addiction? You have to make the choice to do it and then take action. It sounds simple, but like most change, it can be a challenge.
Here Are 6 Ways to Detox From a Junk-Food Addiction
1. Allow For Three Days
Realize that an addiction to junk-food will likely result in withdrawal symptoms and cravings. The first three days are going to be tough as our bodies work to get rid of the toxins and realize we are not giving into the addiction anymore.
We can do anything for three days, right? Do these things to help get through it:
- Remove as much temptation from your daily routine as possible during the first few days
- Drink more water than usual and add lemon when possible
- Take frequent walks outside
- Have nuts, veggies and other easy snacks on hand
- Don’t starve yourself, just choose better options
2. Stick to Three
Keeping on the three theme, apparently three is the magic number. A study out of Cornell University found that we prefer multi-colored food on our plate. The recommendation is to choose three different types of food in three different colors when creating your meals.
3. Read Labels
The longer the ingredient list usually means the more processed it is. Food companies are required to list the ingredients in order of the amount in the product, with the ingredient with highest amount being listed first. Try to stay away from foods that have sugar, white flour and unfamiliar ingredients near the top of the list. The best way to tackle the grocery store is to spend time on the outside aisles, the produce section, and the organic aisles.
4. Learn Your Triggers
Everyone has certain triggers that lead to making poor choices. It might be a certain kind of food, a certain time of day, or a specific activity. Knowing what it is that triggers us can help us avoid it by eliminating foods, keeping busy during specific times, or avoiding the activities that trigger the desire for junk food.
5. Change Things Up
Our routines may be a big reason we reach for junk food instead of healthier, more nutritious options. Much like our triggers, changing our routine can play an important role in helping us to detox from a junk food addiction.
Create a morning routine where you pack lunch and snacks, create an afternoon routine of taking a walk when your energy is low, and create a nighttime routine that supports your desire to eat healthily. Include your nutrition goals when establishing routines, and they’ll be more likely to stick.
6. Take it One Day at a Time
Detoxing from anything is hard work, and we have to be forgiving of ourselves. Oftentimes we are so hard on ourselves and set unrealistic expectations, that we set ourselves up for failure. Take it one day at a time and let every day be a new day. If you fall off the wagon, don’t wait to get back on – just get back on. You are trying to create a lifestyle change, and there is no perfect. Just try to do better tomorrow than you did today.
It might be easy to walk away from the vending machine and reach for some grapes instead. And then again, it might be really hard. Choosing better nutritional options is easier than ever, but it’s still a challenge unless you have the intention and motivation to make it happen. Even though it can be hard at times, the benefits are immeasurable and definitely worth the effort.