By Chef K.T. Murphy
The act of giving up something you love is always difficult, especially when it comes to food. This is especially true when giving up certain foods. Fortunately for us, we live in a creative society that can turn kale into chips and soy into a chicken. We now have endless options that are healthier versions of our previous guilty pleasures.
Sure, the transition from junk food to healthy alternatives is met with its own set of challenges. Pesky cravings could be the blame for countless relapses into unhealthy eating habits. However, as difficult as this shift can be, there is hope! As mentioned, there are many guilt-free options that will satisfy your craving while providing you with some essential health benefits.
Where Do I Begin?
First, let’s break down what junk food really is. Junk food can be relative to the person describing it. Some may consider one item junk whereas the other swears by it. Universally speaking, however, junk food can be described as foods high in calories and low in nutritional value. These foods are tricky because of their being low in satiation. Foods with low satiety typically don’t keep you full. This is probably why eating one chip turns into eating the entire bag.
Since junk food provides little to no nutritional value to our diet, many fast food options fall into the category of junk. Foods mostly consisting of sugars and sodium are also considered unhealthy options to avoid. Since junk food is convenient, it’s difficult to break the habit of consuming it daily. This factor is one of the leading reasons why fast food industries make millions of dollars every year. People know the dangers associated with eating junk food, they just don’t make time to seek nutritional items.
Step 1: Remove the Temptation
When replacing junk food with a nutritional diet, the first step is to remove all the unhealthy food that could ruin your goals. Consider taking an alternate route to work that doesn’t require you to pass that decadent bakery. If you sit near a vending machine, perhaps re position yourself to where you cannot see it. Finally, if you have unhealthy snacks in your home or office, remove them immediately. Out of sight, out of mind is the first step in changing your diet.
Step 2: Understand Your Habits
Junk food is like a tiny message in a complicated bottle. Often, when you indulge in cookies or sodas, your body is trying to tell you what it really needs. Soda intake could mean your body isn’t getting enough low-fat dairy. Salty snacks like chips or sweet treats like brownies typically mean you need more fruits and veggies. Understanding these signals your body is giving you will help you to decide what to replace your unhealthy option with. Instead of snacking on those cheesy puffs, choose cucumbers or carrots instead.
Step 3: Meal Prep
As mentioned, convenience is the leading cause of unhealthy food consumption. Why not make your life easier by taking a few minutes out of your day to meal prep. Meal prepping is an excellent way to think about what you’re putting into your body as opposed to grabbing something quick. It’s easier to replace old eating habits when you know you have something healthy already prepared.
Step 4: Try Alternatives
Experiment, try new strange things make it fun replacing your junk food with nutritional food doesn’t mean you have to give up the flavor. There are countless alternatives that will give you the same satisfaction without the guilt. For example, chip lovers can enjoy veggie baked chips such as kale. Frozen yogurt in moderation is a good ice cream replacement. If chocolate bars are your go to, try protein bars instead. Many of them even come in tasty chocolate flavors. Not to mention, they keep you full. Many fast food restaurants serve frozen meat full of hormones and saturated fat. Fresh meats and fish can give you processed free protein.
Healthy replacements aren’t always the underdog contenders in the world of diets. When you make the effort to really consider what you are putting into your body, you will experience a host of benefits. Through preparation, effort, and consideration, you’ll soon forget about junk food permanently.
Goal is no processed foods or drinks like soda.
All the best