I see you over there with your Doritos and diet soda, you junk food lover. You know what? You’re in good company! I like junk food too. My favorite junk foods are Doritos, Velveeta cheese, McDonald’s bacon egg and cheese biscuits, Snickers, and Reese’s peanut butter cups. They are quite good, but even as I type this, those “foods” don’t have nearly the hold on me that they did two years ago. The former me CRAVED these things and every time I would try to steer away from them, I’d find myself drawn like a tractor beam to a drive through on a busy morning to pick up my guilty pleasure.
Maybe you’re just starting on your journey to eating whole foods and you’re struggling with the battle of knowing you what you “should” eat, but longing for you comforting junk food that tastes oh so good.
Let’s walk through this together and see if we can overcome this obstacle of desiring junk food rather than real food. Shall we? Ok, let’s do this.
I won’t go into it here, but get educated about why junky processed food is detrimental to your health. It goes way beyond high calorie and fat content, which is where many tend to focus. Do a little digging into GMOs, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial growth hormones, MSG, trans fats, pesticides, and preservatives. It won’t take long for you to be concerned about your normal fare of fast food and packaged ingredients. Genetic Roulette, is a fantastic documentary on the dangers of genetically modified foods or GMOs. The Unhealthy Truth is a must read book that discusses what has changed in our food system over the years. If you or your children suffer from allergies, asthma, ADHD, eczema, autism, or any autoimmune disease, please read this book. There is absolutely a connection between the rise of these serious conditions and what has happened to the food supply.
Realize these foods are addictive
You can’t stop eating these “junk foods” for good reason. Many of the ingredients and additives have addictive properties. This particular study is interesting to me. Rats that were fed junk food became so addicted to the junk food that when they were fed healthy food, refused to eat, even if it meant starving to death. (Study) Yes this is a bit extreme, and we are people and not rats, but it does illustrate the struggle with the power junk food can have over our lives. It’s like many other addictions, the beginning weaning yourself off of them, is the hardest and often times may seem impossible. After a while, the cravings go away, and they don’t have the hold on you that they once did.
Also I would add, prayer. Asking the Lord to deliver you from these strong holds on your life is a powerful step. Spend time connected with the Lord, instead of filling the void in your life with food.
I know this is against a lot of the mainstream diet gurus out there, but it has been key for me. Low fat, low carb, low calorie, and restrictive diets are all the rage right now. It’s almost like people are trying to punish themselves in order to meet their health goals, and it is completely unnecessary. Whole foods have a balance of fat, carbohydrates and protein as well as tons of minerals and vitamins. Why are we constantly trying to mess with that? I feel the absolute best when I eat a wide variety of whole foods. Whole milk, full fat raw cheese, vegetables with butter, fruit, fats like coconut oil, whole grains, meat and poultry raised well, and beans and legumes. Every single time, when I start restricting, my moods get crazy and my body gets out of whack. I’ll give two examples. Almost two years ago, I decided to go low carb/grain free to help lose some of the baby weight shortly after my son was born. Everything was great for a while and I did lose weight! Soon after, I began getting cold feet and hands, my hair started falling out, I had extremely dry skin, and began developing strange food allergies. Every time I would eat eggs, I would get intense stomach cramps and bloating. I was miserable. Come to find out, I had messed up my metabolism and thyroid. Whoops! I introduced grains and carbs back into my diet again, and my egg intolerance disappeared as well as my cold hands and feet and thinning hair. I truly believe the body works best on an unrestricted diet.
Make delicious food
I’ve said this many times before, but it’s worth saying again. Eating unprocessed food doesn’t have to be tasteless, drudgery, or punishment. Eat high quality delicious food that satisfies. Make your food taste good so that you actually enjoy eating. It doesn’t have to be plain raw vegetables, fruit, and dry boneless skinless chicken breasts all the time. If you are starving yourself with a rigid “healthy” diet, of course you are going to be craving your beloved junky treats. Just eat a wide variety of food, made with real whole ingredients. Of course eat lots of vegetables. Of course eat fruit. Of course eat some sources of protein. Yes, even eat some fat. And then if you want some cupcakes or chocolate chip cookies, make them with real quality ingredients instead of grabbing the boxed version.
Quit the Mind Games
Focusing on what makes your body feel good and what nourishes you, instead of what you “can’t have” will go a long way in your mental health. If you are constantly thinking about what you can’t have, you will crave it even more. The mind is very powerful and can make you or break you. I always like to think of adding to my diet instead of what I’m taking away. I’m adding so many more things in my diet than what I ate before. When you add, you feel less deprived. Let go of the old vicious cycle. You know the one that looks like this: a rigid restrictive diet —>feeling deprived —> gorging on junk food—> feeling guilt, shame, and failure —> beginning a more rigid restrictive diet gain. This doesn’t work. Let go of the guilt. Give yourself some grace. Be kind to yourself and your body.
If all else fails, follow the 80-20 rule. 80% of the time, eat an excellent nutritious diet. 20% of the time, eat the junk if you wish. I think you might find, the more you eat a balanced diet of healthy food, the less you will want the junk. That’s been the case with me at least. Fast food and even eating out doesn’t taste nearly as good as it used to.
Try it and see
Often the proof is in the pudding. Give healthy eating a try. I’m not talking loading up on green smoothies, supplements, and typical “health food.” Those things have their place, but I’m simply talking a variety of unprocessed food without restrictions. See how you feel. Do you have improved energy, sleep, moods? Are you losing weight? Do your joints feel better? Every time I eat processed food the next day my hands hurt. That’s enough for me to keep my diet as unprocessed as possible. I’ve also experienced less menstrual cramps and my husband has experienced less back pain and joint pain in his knees. For me, trading packaged snack cakes for decreased pain is worth it to me. Maybe you’ll have the same experience.