How to Stop Eating Junk Food? Tips to Take Back Control

Heather Campbell
 min read

How to stop eating junk food? It’s a tough one, but it deserves our attention.

How to stop eating junk food? Tips to take back controlYou are being chased by the big, junk food franchises on every road trip and in almost every city. And you end up there nearly every time.

As a whole, the occasional indulgence won’t do any harm. The reality is that the more we eat, the more we get used to it, and junk food becomes the norm. Acknowledge the problem, log your intake, and avoid temptation by removing junk food from the house.

Although you had resolved to live a healthy lifestyle, once again, you failed. Those damn fries and burgers are just so irresistibly delicious.

Read on if you really want to stop once and for all, and to learn some interesting tips and tricks to kick the junk food habit.

How to stop eating junk food? Introduction

Junk food describes foods high in calories from sugar or fat with little dietary fiber, protein, vitamins, or minerals. Often the term is used hand in hand with fast food.

Yet this term has a different meaning. Indeed, fast food, by definition, is not unhealthy. For example, a salad of fresh ingredients without processed ingredients is also a fast food dish.

There is much debate in the medical community about whether an addiction to junk food can really be called an addiction. According to several scientists, it indeed may.

Research showed that the reward system in the brain is disrupted in obese individuals.

It mainly involves dopamine released when we do pleasant things like eating or having sex.

But this mechanism only functions without excess and extreme situations. For example, if you start eating junk food in abnormal amounts, the brain adapts pretty quickly.

More must then be used, eaten, or done to experience the same happiness. The result is an increased likelihood of developing a true addiction.

Binge eating

Binge eating is eating much faster than normal, eating until you feel uncomfortable, or eating large amounts of food without actually feeling hungry.

Individuals with this disorder have periods of binge eating that occur at least once a week for at least 3 months (i.e., at least 12 eating outings over 12 weeks).

Binge eating is the most common eating disorder.

But don’t panic! Follow a few steps, and that condition may just become a thing of the past.

Acknowledge your problem

If you are reading this article because you want to get rid of your junk food addiction, you have already gone through this step.

After all, you know and recognize that you have a problem, you typed a search term like “kick junk food addiction” into the search engine, and you landed on this website.

Although often easier said than done, this is where it really starts.

Addicted individuals, according to themselves, have plenty of reasons to believe that what they are doing is fine. They are experts at justifying their actions and dealings and really have an explanation for everything.

The excuses follow each other in rapid succession. From “after a hard day’s work, I deserve this” to “I feel terrible, so I need to eat some junk food to feel better.”

Numerous triggers can cause you to eat more than intended.

Check why is it that you often reach for junk food? It could be stress or loneliness.

Junk food can temporarily make you feel better. But in the long run, that certainly won’t be the case. You’re only going to feel worse, and you’re going to eat even more.

Keep a logbook

It’s not easy to overcome an eating addiction. You know better than anyone which foods are addictive to you. So these are all best avoided.

Maintaining control is one of the most critical elements in this process. Often with addiction, there is actually a lack of control. So you start eating and just can’t stop. Control is completely lost at times like that.

If you plan to cut down on junk food, it helps to set clear goals. Set a goal, specify how much you want to cut back, and make sure it is measurable.

For example, a goal such as “I will watch my diet this week and burn some fat” is not specific enough.

Make your goals more specific such as “This week I will not eat any desserts and I will drink no more than 2 sugary sodas.”

Then keep track of the results. To do this, choose a method that works well for you. This way, you can follow up on the development in your calendar or use old-fashioned pencil and paper.

Measure your progress and observe precisely what you are doing. Consider whether your goals are leading to the desired outcome. Is this not really the case? Then adjust your goals and stay more motivated that way.

Avoid temptation

The temptation to eat is much greater when you have your favorite junk food lying around the house.

So create a hurdle between the urge to do something and actually being able to do it. It’s time to tackle the pantries and donate all the junk food to the neighbors and reduce the temptation for yourself.

Of course, you may still decide to go to the grocery store without those foods in the house.

But in practice, it often turns out that those 15 minutes it takes to go to the store can be enough to not take action. And that, of course, is precisely the point!

If you can’t do it on your own, don’t hesitate to ask for help. An eating disorder can be just as addictive as any other addiction. So sometimes you need a push from another person.

Need some more convincing to quit fast food? Then read on and discover some of the harmful effects of a junk food diet.

Consequences of eating only junk food

What does eating too much or exclusively junk food do to the human body?

Well, it has a lot of detrimental effects on human health, weight gain, and even mood.

In this regard, the documentary film Super Size Me is highly recommended to see Morgan Spurlock’s experiment. He decided to eat only McDonald’s food for 30 days!

Below we list some more consequences of eating too much junk food. Hopefully, this can be motivating enough to help you to cut down!

You’re getting fat

Hamburgers, French fries, popcorn, pizza, chips, ice cream, donuts, waffles, and cookies contain more sugar, fat, and salt than if you prepared your own food with a serving of vegetables.

You will automatically get fatter by choosing junk food over and over again!

Tip: Check our other article to learn why potato chips aren’t as harmless as you think: How to stop eating potato chips: Tips to stop this bad eating habit

Junk food causes diabetes

How to stop eating junk food? Why should we?

Eating junk food regularly can cause severe problems in the medium to long term.

Weight problems and high concentrations of fat and sugar in junk food are wreaking havoc on your insulin mechanism and doubling your risk of diabetes!

You’re even hungrier afterward

Fatty junk food meals cause a satiated feeling quickly, but that ebbs away faster than after a healthy meal with high-fiber vegetables.

We are all familiar with the result: After eating a portion of junk food, you get hungry faster and want to eat even more.

You have more cholesterol in your blood

A high intake of fat- and sugar-rich foods raises the cholesterol concentration in your blood very quickly.

Just like the excess pounds, you don’t get rid of them overnight. However, it is crucial to keep your cholesterol under control!

Junk food is addictive

Why so many people are tempted repeatedly by those calorie bombs may have to do with a chemical reaction in the brain.

Fat, sugar, and salt stimulate the brain’s reward system, causing us to produce more dopamine, a real feel-good substance.

In other words, the more fast food we eat, the harder it becomes to suppress the desire for that food kick.

The reason for this is simple: Every time you eat junk food, you feel the feel-good substance dopamine in your body, produced by your brain as a result of consuming sugar, fat, and salt.

You get depressed by junk food

Junk food quickly starts to work on your mood and attitude.

Several studies show that too much junk food creates a sense of unease and weighs on your mood.

Have you been longing for some kind of antidepressant diet? Then banish all junk food and consciously choose a balanced and varied diet.

Fast food affects memory

Several scientific studies showed that junk food affects the hippocampus of laboratory animals.  The hippocampus is the brain region important for memory and regulates appetite.

In addition, other studies showed that this is also the case in humans. In humans, too, the hippocampus in the brain is affected by junk food.

Fast food is addictive: Scientific illustration

In a scientific test, a number of students with a healthy weight were divided into 2 groups:

  • One group ate foods rich in saturated fat and added sugars (junk food) for 7 days.
  • The other group was served a healthy breakfast for 2 days and allowed to maintain their usual diet all other days of the week.

The researchers found that the unhealthy food negatively affected memory and that those who eat junk food still crave more food despite a full stomach.

The link was easily established since the hippocampus is responsible for memory and appetite.

Thus, the hippocampus of humans is disrupted by junk food.

Long-term unhealthy eating damages the hippocampus

The researchers concluded that we quickly remember how delicious the food was when we see it again.

Usually, our hippocampus suppresses this “hunger for more” when we are satiated. However, after a week full of junk food, it functions less well, making us want to eat more anyway.

This also explains why eating junk food is so addictive and why a poorly functioning hippocampus is linked to type 2 diabetes, insomnia, stress, and depression.

These factors are common in Western societies and, together with a Western diet (rich in saturated fat and added sugars), can lead to acute and long-term cumulative damage to the hippocampus.

About three weeks after the experiment, everything worked as before for them. Thus, after a short period full of unhealthy foods, the functioning of the hippocampus can recover.

With that piece of news, try to make the change you need.

How to stop eating junk food? Conclusion

If you only reach for junk food once in a while, for example, if you eat a hamburger or pizza every 10 days, there’s no harm.

But that’s provided you combine the sporadic intake of junk food with a healthy and varied diet.

Eating too much junk food, on the other hand, is another story. The internal damage to your body and organs can be massive.

By reading this article on how to stop eating junk food, you should now be more aware of why and how to stop eating junk food.

Related post: What happens to your body when you eat late at night? Is it unhealthy?

About Heather Campbell

As a dietitian, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More