Wondering why it’s so hard to quit junk food? There’s a scientific explanation behind it
There might have been times when you’ve told yourself that you’re finally going to stop eating junk food but, no matter how hard you try, sometimes you find yourself reverting to these habits. While eating “unhealthy” food every now and then isn’t absolutely bad, doing so regularly could have repercussions on your health. And don’t put all the blame on yourself because science can explain your cravings. Here, we’ve listed questions that could guide you on your way to avoiding junk food.
What are your reasons?
The first step to veering away from junk food is to have a good number of reasons why you want to stop consuming these types of food. Do you want to live a healthier life? Are you trying to change your lifestyle? Ask yourself these questions and from there, you may get the drive to resist when you find yourself at a crossroads.
What’s your plan?
The next step is to make a plan on what food you would want to eat. This is where making healthier choices come in, but don’t fall into the trap of starving yourself or completely shunning away various food groups just to resist junk food cravings. According to registered dietitian Katherine Brooking, RD, when we’re tired and hungry, the level of hormones that makes us feel full are falling and we’re easily tempted to eat ready-made snacks. However, tiredness and hunger are natural circumstances, which is why instead of keeping a stash of junk food to satisfy cravings, consider snacking on dried fruit and nuts to help stabilize blood sugar.
Do you know how to say no?
The chemical in our brain called dopamine, a pleasure-regulating substance, which makes us consistently crave something, is the same chemical that makes us want to eat more fats and carbs the more we eat them. In layman’s terms, dopamine tells our brain to eat more junk food because the more we ingest them, the more we feel the satisfaction our brain craves.
Are you implementing your plans?
Don’t let plans be just plans. You have to accomplish something you’ve plotted and you’ve got to take action. Make your own salad, cook your own food, do your own grocery shopping. Though not all of us have the time to prepare healthy meals, registered dietitian Alex Caspero, RD advises anyone who lacks time to cook more than what you think you’ll need each time you prepare your own meal.
Do you play sports or work out?
If you do, that’s great, but if you don’t you might as well think about a sport you want to try. Playing sports isn’t necessary if you’re just trying to quit junk food, but the benefits it could provide you will bring positive energy, self-esteem, and the discipline anyone who’s planning to live a healthier life would want. By playing a certain sport or regularly exercising, you’ll be able to strengthen your muscles and so much more.
How’s your environment?
You may not be conscious of this, but your working space plays a huge factor in achieving your goals. Whether you’re at home or at work (or working at home), it’s important to have someone who supports and pushes you to reach your destination. Registered dietitian Natalie Rizzo, RD said that swapping food with friends who also lead a healthy lifestyle can be a great habit. “Organize a meal swap, where you all cook one large healthy meal, and swap portions.”
Still craving ice cream?
There will come a time when you really can’t resist eating ice cream and chocolates. According to research, even if people try hard to live healthier, the power of cravings could overshadow the value of health. When people crave something, the more they’re willing to pay good money just to get their hands on it. The workaround? Satisfy your junk food cravings by swapping them with a healthier alternative. Ice cream? Go for yogurt.