Break Your Junk Food Habit

Several fast food outlets now offer better food options such as salads, but by the time you add croutons, bacon bits, and a heavy, high-fat dressing to it, the calorie count goes up very fast.

–>> Choose low fat dressings for salads and keep the dressing on the side – drowning your salad in dressing (or shredded cheese, or bacon bits, or, or, or…) virtually eliminates the healthier aspects of the raw veggies! Dip your fork into the dressing just before spearing your salad veggies so that you get the taste of the dressing,  but far fewer calories and much less fat!

–>> Avoid buying fries with your cheeseburger – practice ordering a la carte from the menu. Thin french fries hold a lot of fat and are extremely high in calories and salt – two items no one needs to overindulge in.

–>> Where possible, choose fruit or plain rice as a side dish to your fast food. For the fruit – avoid the sugar-filled “dips” or “dressings” provided and eat it with just a little lemon squeezed over it, or topped with low-fat yogurt. The fruit and yogurt parfaits sold at one major chain are not too bad nutritionally, and if you can avoid the granola topping, it’s even better for you. You can also make your own parfaits at home using fresh fruit and Greek yogurt, which contains more protein.

If a burger is what you crave, and you’ve been eating well the rest of the day, then instead of buying a double meat, double cheese burger (or worse – a TRIPLE), opt for the single meat and cheese option, add as many vegetables as are offered, and you’ll reduce the calories and fat significantly.

Regular soda is high in sugar and calories while offering no nutritional value whatsoever. Choose all natural fruit juices, water, or diet soda (but not too much of that either) to reduce calories. There are studies that have shown that artificial sweeteners encourage the body to expect calories (sugar has calories) and if the sweetness is there but the calories are not, your sense of hunger will stay the same until you feed your body the calories it desires.

Try cooking more meals at home – by planning ahead and perhaps front-loading some of your cooking on slow days or the weekend, you can have basic ingredients prepared and have more options for quick meals. I find that a crockpot full of stew or chili, made in my own kitchen, is much healthier, more satisfying, and an easy way to stay on track with my nutrition goals and plans.

When you’re changing your eating habits, going “cold turkey” is one of the hardest things to accomplish, and if you don’t have a dominant or strong personality, it may be tough to accomplish. In the beginning, plan for one junk food free day per week for a couple of weeks, then increase it by one (1) day every two weeks until you are down to only one junk food day. Find ways to celebrate your successes that do not involve food – and especially not junk food.

Once you’ve cut down to one junk food day per week, start cutting back again until you are eating junk food at only one MEAL per week. You do need to give yourself a break periodically, but staying in control is far better for your health. Research ways to make your favorite ‘comfort foods”, snacks and / or desserts in a healthier manner, and then you’ll be able to indulge just a little during the week without blowing an entire week’s worth of effort.

Break your junk food habit by steady, consistent effort, and you’ll move toward positive and achievable goals.

Have a great day!