It seems like most Australians can’t get enough junk food these days. A new study reveals that average Australians eat junk food every day, three times more than the recommended daily intake. By asking more than 40,000 respondents about their eating habits, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) gave Australia a failing score of 61 points out of 100.
We tend to want what we can’t have. But when it comes to cravings, not getting what you want can dampen your desire. Studies show that we crave what we eat, so if you eat good-for-you foods, you’ll start wanting them instead of biscuits and cake. The key is getting your mind on board until your body can take over.
Most of us know that junk food is unhealthy. We know that poor nutrition is related to heart problems, high blood pressure, and a host of other health ailments. You might even know that studies show that eating junk food has been linked to increases in depression.
When you eat tasty food, there are two factors that make the experience pleasurable.
First, there is the sensation of eating the food. This includes what it tastes like salty, sweet or sour etc, what it smells like, and how it feels in your mouth. This last quality can be particularly important. Food companies will spend millions of dollars to discover the most satisfying level of crunch in a potato chip. Their scientists will test for the perfect amount of fizzle in a soda. These factors all combine to create the sensation that your brain associates with a particular food or drink.
The second factor is the actual macronutrient makeup of the food the blend of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that it contains. In the case of junk food, food manufacturers are looking for a perfect combination of salt, sugar, and fat that excites your brain and gets you coming back for more.
What Makes an Unhealthy Food Addictive?
We know it’s bad for us, but we can’t stop eating it. Why do our taste buds so frequently override our brains and tell us that eating that bag of potato chips, or that second slice of cake, is worth the risk? Apparently, it’s not really our fault, just like we mentioned earlier junk food is addictive because food companies have designed it to be that way.
Why do people keep eating fast food and why do we have organisations like “Overeaters Anonymous” for people who believe, as they say on the website, “Our symptoms may vary, but we share a common bond: we are powerless over food and our lives are unmanageable.
It’s because junk food works like drugs. That is, junk food is addictive. People who can’t control their eating are not addicted to food. It’s just that the particular foods that they eat are addictive. When these people make the switch to a diet made of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and legumes, with a few other foods such as organic eggs and free range meats, they will see their hunger and cravings go down.
Nature programmed us to want to get the most energy-dense foods. This was designed to help us to stay alive when food was scarce, so that we could pack maximum energy into a small stomach. Therefore, nature gave us pleasure-circuits in our brain that cause feelings of euphoria and excitement when we eat foods that have lots of energy in a small volume. The trouble is that now we can increase calorie density artificially, by processing and adding sugar and fats.
How to Quit Eating Junk Foods
Junk food seems so good as far as taste is concerned but it is definitely bad for your health. Junk food can increase the risks of prostate and breast cancer. They do not contain nutrients that are beneficial for your body. Trans fat, which is commonly found in baked goods, fried foods and packaged snacks, can lead to heart disease, liver cancer, stomach cancer and diabetes. With all these ill effects, you should be motivated by now to stop eating junk food, or reduce your cravings gradually until you are ready to quit it.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Start your day with a good breakfast. Including a high quality protein for breakfast will give you more satiety which will also reduce the cravings.
- Drink a glass of water when you are craving. You will hydrate yourself and feel full afterwards.
- List the foods you tend to crave. This list will act as a reminder about the foods you need to avoid completely.
- Write your reasons for quitting on a piece of paper. Look at it every single day and use it as a constant reminder of your goal.
- Make a list of fast food locations that serve healthy meals. This can help you prevent heading to the unhealthy fast foods when you find yourself hungry.
- Think about healthy foods that you like, the ones you can eat every day and have these choices on hand for when you are craving.
- Do your shopping at the farmers markets instead of visiting the big chain supermarkets. Not only will you be less tempted with damaging packaged food, you will be supporting our local farmers.
- If you do shop in the grocery store, shop the outside parameters only, this is where you will find wholefoods like fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, meat and dairy while avoiding the isles full of junk food.
- Learn to control yourself. When you are tempted to grab junk food, remind yourself of the objective – why you want to quit. Too many carbohydrates are the major contributing factor towards weight gain. So when avoiding the junk food fix, grab a handful of raw nuts or even better, step outside into the sunshine and take a brisk walk around the block.
Ask the Nutrition & Weight Loss Company for Nutritional Advice today!
For more tips on diet and nutrition, consult the Nutrition & Weight Loss Company on the Gold Coast. Our team are trained in assisting you with nutritional advice and give their time weekly to hold informative classes, held at the clinic. Nutrition & Weight Loss Company on the Gold Coast are committed to helping you and your family enjoy optimal overall wellness throughout your lifetime. Call us today on (07) 5527 4300 or simply book your appointment online. Experience the benefits of a Healthy lifestyle today!
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