You must love comfort food. Everyone craves it, especially in times of stress. A hearty Big Mac surely gets you salivating after a long day at the office.
However pleasing such food is, it affects the body negatively. Savory junk food has an unsavory reputation.
Resisting temptation and not giving in to cravings can seem like moving a mountain. Everyone can use a few, effective suggestions to refuse junk food.
A. What draws us to junk food
Before looking at these suggestions, everyone should take the time to understand what triggers junk food urges. Knowing how comfort food affects us makes avoiding it easier.
Junk food, unfortunately, is everywhere. There is a Mcdonalds restaurant at practically every mall you visit. In the middle of a hectic rush, junk food is a practical, yet delicious solution for stopping annoying hunger pangs.
It is also too easy to prepare. Putting a beef patty on a hot grill is all too simple.
With such food being so easily available, it is not a wonder why it has become a choice method for dealing with hunger.
2. Easing anxiety
People deal with more stress as society progresses. High stress levels cause the body to use up more energy, increasing cravings for calorific, exceptionally tasty food. Fatty, sugary foods are an all-too-available source of comfort.
3. Gives us quick energy
In times of high pressure, fast food, high in carbohydrates, gives people the quick energy they need. It gives them immediate strength to complete important projects overnight.
4. Dynamic Contrast
It is easy to create dynamic contrasts, or different flavor blends, with comfort food. You would have probably built many burgers with tender beef, salty cheese, sour pickles and sweet chili. The tantalizing flavors tease your taste buds, making you ask for more.
5. Salivation and the melt-in-your-mouth feeling
Junk food causes salivary responses. The more the food activates salivary glands, the more the saliva covers the taste buds. Emulsified foods, such as chocolates, cheeses, sauces and salad dressings, cause salivation and enhance taste.
Comfort food also produces the melt-in-your-mouth feeling, making you feel as though you are not eating as much as you should. This sensation tells your brain that you are not full and makes you overeat.
6. Sparks pleasant memories
Ice-cream and burgers may evoke pleasant memories of the times you shared burger feasts with family or friends. Ice-cream may remind you of walks when grandpa bought you ice-cream. Such pleasant memories stimulate insatiable cravings.
B. The effects of junk food
Comfort food sparks responses that make it difficult to resist. Resist it we must, as it has negative effects on the body.
1. It can cause Type 2 Diabetes
Fast food puts pressure on your body’s metabolism and affects how it uses insulin. It also lacks fiber, which counteracts sugar. The result is a drastic increase in sugar levels and diabetes.
2. Junk food triggers digestive problems
Those who eat high-lactose junk food are more likely than others to suffer from GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. They may also suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, a gut disorder that causes pain and bloat in different parts of the stomach. Diarrhea and constipation are hallmarks of this condition.
3. It leads to poor performance.
Studies have shown that fast food leads to memory impairment in rats. Researchers also observed that trans fat from junk food replaces healthy fat in the brain, interfering with a person’s ability to learn new skills.
4. Fast food increases weight.
The carbohydrates and unhealthy fats in junk food make it all too easy for a person to tip the scales. Obesity has links to a host of other health conditions.
It affects overall self-esteem. A person seldom feels his best when he or she is overweight.
5. It raises cholesterol levels and causes heart disease
Chefs often use fatty beef to create the burgers we love. Such beef is higher in HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol. When there is too much of such cholesterol in the blood, it builds up in the heart’s arteries and turns into hardened plaque. This stops blood flow to the heart and leads to a host of heart diseases. High cholesterol brings about coronary artery disease, a condition which occurs when blood cannot flow through the heart’s main artery, the coronary artery. The lack of blood flow and oxygen causes heart failure.
6. Junk food causes fatigue, weakness and breathlessness
Limited oxygen flow causes breathlessness. Fast food has a highly imbalanced nutritional content, so it lacks the essential nutrients the body needs for overall health. Though it fills the stomach and gives you energy, this energy fades off after a while. Over-consumption of comfort food leads to chronic fatigue.
7. It causes depression.
Teenagers go through many hormonal changes, making them prone to mood swings. A healthy diet maintains hormonal balance. Junk food, which lacks essential nutrients, disrupts this balance and increases the likelihood of depression by 58%.
8. Fast food causes kidney disease
Eating junk food, containing high amounts of sodium, leads to kidney failure. Salt is the reason saying no to potato chips is difficult. Too much salt disrupts the sodium and potassium balance in the body, causing hypertension. This, in turn, puts pressure on the kidney, which filters out unwanted substances. Too much stress on the kidney causes it to fail.
9. Junk food causes cancer risk.
Fast food has low fiber content. The digestive system needs fiber, as a lack of it leads to cancers of the digestive system. Studies published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention show that fast food increases the risk of colon cancer.
10. Fast food damages the liver
Fast food also damages the liver. Studies show that people who consume junk food, yet do not exercise will develop negative changes in liver enzymes. These studies also show that trans fat is responsible for liver dysfunction.
C. How to stop eating junk food between meals
Knowing these familiar effects is not enough. It is more essential to find ways to counter junk food cravings, including those that happen between meals.
1. Assess when you eat fast food.
The first of these methods is to think about when you eat fast food. If this takes place during stressful situations, you may want to think of alternative ways to deal with your stress. If it happens when you are alone, you might want to prepare quick, healthy meals for one person.
Quick snacks that you can munch on between meals are a powerful temptation. If you find yourself snacking between meals, replace unhealthy snacks with celery and carrot sticks instead.
2. Avoid drive throughs
Drive throughs are convenient to get to. To add to the convenience, there is no need to queue in the restaurant. Steer clear of drive throughs and their temptations.
3. Decide whether you have a fast food addiction
If you find that you eat fast food for nearly all meals, you are probably addicted to it. A person who has a fast food addiction has undying urges, despite being full. He would take in much more food than his body needs. A comfort food addict would feel guilty after eating, yet arm himself with excuses and do so again. Addicts hide their food consumption from others and find it difficult to resist.
Any of these symptoms would clearly show a fast food addiction you must counter.
4. Seek support.
You will need support to deal with a fast food addiction. Loved ones can help by restricting your fast food binges. They can also have healthy meals with you.
If the addiction is severe, look for food addiction support groups. These groups give health advice, in an empathetic setting.
5. Look at yourself in the mirror.
A good look at yourself in the mirror will discourage food addiction. Not eating fast food would help you fit into that gorgeous dress or stylish suit.
6. Drink only water.
Sugary, carbonated drinks are greatly responsible for weight gain. Make up your mind to avoid them and drink only water.
7. Make eating fruits and vegetables fun.
Healthy food is not necessarily boring. Give it a twist. Put fruit juice, without sugar, in popsicle holders and freeze it. This will make it novel for your family, especially your children.
8. Eat with others.
One way to avoid fast food is to eat with others. You would eat less if you have meals with friends, as you would not want to appear greedy.
9. Prepare meals ahead.
To avoid eating junk food under stress, prepare healthy sandwiches that you can eat while you work. A cucumber and tomato sandwich takes only a few minutes to put together.
10. Take meal replacement shakes.
Meal replacement shakes are an ideal fast food alternative and suit those on the go. The time taken to prepare a quick shake equals the time it takes to line up and place an order at a fast food counter. A balanced mix of proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins, shakes curb hunger between meals and encourage weight loss. Popular ones include:
c. Myoplex Lite
d. Isagenix Pro
e. Special K
f. Right Light
g. Trim Shake
h. Slender Satisfaction
It takes persistence, resilience and a few useful suggestions to show junk food the door. With determination, this unwelcome guest will show up less often.
1. Patient.co.uk http://www.patient.co.uk/health/irritable-bowel-syndrome-leaflet
4. Fitness Fusion http://fitnessfusion.com/pros-cons-meal-replacement-shakes/
10. Reader’s Digest http://www.rd.com/slideshows/8-ways-to-train-your-brain-to-hate-junk-food/