How to stop craving junk food?
Cravings are the #1 thing that stops people from getting the body they want, no matter how much they work out.
Is there a way of controlling this destructive need?
The answers lie below, but in order to get to that, we must first understand what cravings are and how to distinguish them from real hunger.
What are cravings and how are they different from hunger?
Real hunger, also known as physiological or “stomach hunger”, occurs when our stomach signals to our brain that it’s time to eat in order to keep your body going. It isn’t about wanting specific flavors, it is about survival. Now, it gets a little more complicated when wanting food moves from the stomach to the brain.
Cravings, also known as psychological or “mind hunger”, occur in order to satisfy emotional needs, such as calming stress and anxiety, or to simply make you feel better. Carvings can also be amplified by eating a very calorie restrictive diet, or a diet lacking in variety. The foods we crave taste so good and they usually have enjoyable feelings and memories associated with them.
Why do cravings occur?
When cravings kick in, they are usually all about junk food. This is because the fatty and sugary foods which release chemicals that influence our brain and give us the feelings of pleasure and even mild euphoria. So if you are under a lot of stress, you will probably face some persistent cravings which are your brain’s way of telling you that you need to relax and/or feel happier. Contrary to the popular belief, cravings are not body’s signals that you lack certain nutrients. In fact, no research to supports that claim that our bodies can make us to want eat specific foods because of the lack of specific nutrients.
What can we do to stop them?
Here are a few tips for beating cravings when they kick in:
1. Avoid getting extremely hungry
If you get extremely hungry you will experience junk food cravings because your body needs a healthy supply of calories, and junk foods are definitely caloric bombs. To avoid starving yourself, have some healthy snacks close in order to keep your body fueled in a healthy way.
You can find a variety of delicious healthy snack recipes in our Nutrition Guide.
2. Picture your goal
One of the best techniques to resist the cravings is to picture yourself reaching your goal – a fit, ripped you. Every time your mind starts with craving junk foods, say to yourself “Stop!” and then imagine yourself the way you wish to be, and after a while the cravings will subside.
3. Get more active
When you have cravings, you are really craving just to feel better. If you don’t feel so upbeat, it would be best to channel that negative energy into a good workout. Physical activity causes the body to release chemicals that make you feel good afterwards, causing that “post-workout high”.
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4. Don’t “eat around” food cravings
If you crave junk foods, don’t try to replace it with a low-calorie imitation of it because it won’t satisfy your need for it and you’ll probably end up having junk food anyway. So save yourself the trouble and just have a reasonable portion of what you wanted in a first place. As long as you keep it balanced, it won’t do you any harm.
5. Eat a variety of foods and proper meals
By eating balanced meals that vary in ingredients and nutrients you’ll be able to prevent hunger and cravings. By restricting yourself from certain foods and eating too little you’ll definitely be on the main way to cravings, and probably giving into them. This will only result in more harm than good. Keep in mind that you can still eat high calorie foods, but you will also need to workout a lot. Learn how to eat burgers and still be ripped in this post.
6. Stay persistent, they will stop
Usually people give in to cravings because they think that they will only increase, but this is not true. Cravings come and go in waves, meaning that they build up and then disappear. If you can keep a strong mind, then you have a better chance of beating them altogether. Just wait it out.