Do you have a wicked junk food habit? In that, you are not flying solo. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shares that junk food is on the rise in the United States. In particular, the consumption of fast food is ever-increasing.
Our lives have become more harried and hectic than ever before. We face a delicate balancing act every day. And despite this, we must walk the line between work and family just like past generations. However, we now have constant interruptions (ie: work-related emails) thanks to the little handheld computers we carry in our jeans pockets.
It feels like we might never catch a break, so so speak, because we are available via instant notifications 24/7.
So one way we have begun to cope with our limited time availability is by turning to junk food.
Why? Because it’s accessible, quick, and easy to consume on the fly.
From unhealthy, large portions of candy and salty snacks to full meals we order through an app for pickup, we have begun treating food as a quick fix.
So you may have the desire to kick your fast food habit to the curb. But you have one looming question hanging over your head.
How do you start?
Read on. We will gladly share five measures you can take today. These are actionable steps that will get you on the path to eating well again.
1 – Replace soda with water
There is perhaps no emptier a calorie than the soda that we so dearly love to drink. One big problem. Beyond being empty calories, soda also causes conditions like acid reflux, erosion of tooth enamel, and hypertension as it’s often high in sodium.
All this is a recipe for disaster.
Begin by taking small steps. If you drink four sodas per day, swap two of those out for a nice, tall glass of water. You will quench your thirst better than you did with colas, and save lots of calories.
Over the next couple of weeks, swap your remaining daily sodas out for water, too. Instead of making your afternoon “pop” a daily habit, let it serve only as an occasional treat.
2 – Stock Your Pantry with Whole Food
As mentioned earlier, many of us gravitate to junk food for a quick snack or meal on the fly. Breaking that habit begins with a well-stocked pantry in your home kitchen.
First, clear your cupboards of foods with low nutritional values. Eliminate:
- White flour
- White pasta
- White rice
- Salty canned foods
- Then, shop for whole good to replace those:
- Whole grain
- Wheat flour or gluten-free flours
- Brown rice
- Organic, fresh vegetables
- Non-GMO meats
If those foods which are poor choices aren’t available, you cannot eat them. So the next time you want some candy, you can opt for grapes. Want to make a rice stir-fry? Use brown rice instead of white.
Yes, this change is drastic and takes a commitment of time and money. But aren’t you worth it?
3 – Practice Meal Prepping
Remember that part of the mass appeal of junk foods is the grab and go ease of consuming them. So, to improve your food choices for good, it will take some prep work. However, the end result will be meals ready in minutes.
Plan out your meals for one week, and shop for all the ingredients at one time. This prep time eliminates the need to run out for a quick bite because you’re short an ingredient or two!
When you get home from shopping for your weekly groceries, spend time washing and prepping veggies for quick salads, stir fry, or snacks.
After you have washed, sliced, and diced, you can package the ingredients that you need for each meal into an airtight bag. You can also cube or slice meats, using s separate cutting mat, and store them in a separate location.
Date and label the bag, so you will later know which meal it goes with. When it comes time to cook your food, or if you want to make a fast, healthy smoothie, you will have much of the hard work done in advance.
4 – Consider Quicker Cooking Sources
Following the same trend of quicker and healthier meals, consider some faster methods of cooking your foods.
You might now want to wait an hour for the chicken to come out of the oven. But what about 15 minutes in an air fryer or electric pressure cooker? Or, seek out slow cooker recipes that allow you to dump in all the ingredients before you head to work and return home to a hot and nutritious meal.
With all the kitchen tools on the market today, a little cooking creativity goes a very far way.
5 – Make Snacks Available
This shift to healthy dining doesn’t mean you can never snack again. Indeed, small snacks between meals give our bodies the bursts of energy we need during long days.
But let’s re-think our snacks. Typically, our treats are fried tortilla or potato chips, salty cracker products out of a box, and sugary candies.
When you do that meal prep, make up some small bags of fresh and crispy veggies to replace the fried chips. Or, upgrade your candy for the natural sweetness of apple slices or oranges. You’ll deliver a better energy source to your body and feel less weighed down as your day rolls on.
Some other nice substitutes include kale chips, organic air-popped popcorn, non-fat Greek yogurt with fruit, peanuts and tree nuts.
Final Thoughts on Kicking the Junk Food Habit
There are many things in life we cannot control. Namely, other people, death, and paying taxes. But we do hold responsibility for our own wellness in our hands. And risking the consequences that arise from poor eating habits is not worth the gamble.
Kicking the junk food habit is an action that is in your control. Now, it’s up to you to reach out and act on these tips right away.