How to Quit Junk Food

We all know that “junk” food is bad for us, right? It’s on the news, in articles, advertisements, it’s in our faces all the time that it’s going to cut our lives short and give us chronic diseases. So why do we have such an “addiction” (I use that word loosely but just trying to make a point here) to junk food? Let me rephrase, why are we so drawn to junk food and how can we stop?

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Here’s the short answer…We have to stop labeling it as “junk” and “bad” and “forbidden.”

What’s a sure fire way to get anyone to do something? You tell them it’s not allowed. Try forbidding your child from doing something and take a guess at what’s going to happen. He/she is going to do it. It’s like the classic tale of forbidding a teenage girl from dating the “bad” boy. Being told what not to do can cause even the most well behaved of us to start a rebellion.

How do foods become “bad”? What did they do to deserve that title? Did they steal, hit, lie? No, they are just foods. Moreover, how in the world do you become a “bad” person for eating them? It seems silly when you think about it, doesn’t it? That eating a food can make you a good or bad person. It seems silly because it’s not true! And we have to stop telling ourselves this lie.

The diet industry is built upon rules. Rules about when to eat, what to eat, what not to eat and if we break any of these rules it’s because we didn’t have enough willpower. We failed the diet. When in all truth, it’s all of the diets that are failing us. It’s time to start a diet rebellion. Stop listening to the lies. The longer you believe them the longer you will be stuck in the dieting cycle and find the joy sucked right out the entire eating experience.

I was at a party last weekend and was asked how I refrain myself from eating all the desserts there implying that I was a “good” person for not eating a brownie. The answer is, I don’t! I love desserts and I eat them when I want and to my satisfaction. The key here is I do my best (doesn’t always happen) to eat them only when I am hungry and stop when I’m full. But I allow myself to eat whatever food my mind and body want. I know from my own experiences that suppressing my dessert craving is not going to turn out well. If I want a brownie and I don’t allow myself to eat it there’s a few outcomes that could happen and neither of them end well.

  • Scenario 1: I suppress the urges so long that I eventually give in (because I can’t stop thinking about how delicious the brownie looks and smells and probably tastes and I am practically drooling just thinking about that brownie). I give in and eat the whole pan instead of just eating the one brownie I initially wanted. This leaves me not only feeling stuffed and uncomfortable but shameful for not being able to control myself. The worst part? I don’t even enjoy the eating experience as much because I’m just trying to stuff brownies in my face as fast as I can. (A wonderful visual I just gave you, sorry!)

  • Scenario 2: I try to find “healthier” substitutes. Maybe I make myself a chocolate smoothie but that just doesn’t quite do the trick so I have some nuts with raisins…but that doesn’t quite do it either. So then I have some chocolate zucchini muffins but gosh darn that hankering for a brownie is still there. I have two choices at this point. I continue to hold off on the brownie, dreaming of how good it tastes, until I can’t take it anymore and devour the entire pan or I just go ahead and put off the inevitable and devour the whole pan. Again, scenario 2 has left me overeating, stuffed to capacity, and feeling guilty and out of control.

If you think this is an over exaggeration let me tell you it most certainly is not. There are a multitude of studies to show when you restrict all food or certain foods and people start to feel deprived they become obsessed with food.

If you want to quit “junk” foods then you first have to heal your broken relationship with food. You have to stop seeing food in terms of rules and good and bad. There are foods we eat which are more nutritious for our bodies and there are foods we eat which we eat purely for fun and satisfaction. We need a good balance of both to achieve total body health. And we need to allow ourselves to eat the foods we want to our satisfaction.

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