Have you realized that your weight loss journey is sabotaged because you just can’t stop eating junk food? If your answer is yes then you are not alone. One of the greatest pitfalls of healthy eating and weight loss is the constant consumption of unhealthy food. Figuring out how to stop eating junk food is one of the best things you can do; not only will it save your weight loss efforts, but it is great for your general health.
In this article, we will give you tips and tricks on how to stop eating junk food and lose weight, how to stop eating junk food at work, how to stop eating junk food at night, as well as quick ways to lose weight, and more.
What Is A Quick Way To Lose Weight?
The best way for you to lose weight is to eat well and exercise. What does eating well mean? It means consuming a healthy well-balanced diet that helps maintain good health and makes you feel your best.
It should also consist of food from the 5 main food groups which are namely (7):
- Dairy (or a dairy substitute for vegans or anyone who is lactose intolerant)
- Carbohydrates (whole grains and other complex carbs)
- Protein (lean meats, eggs, oily fish, and other plant-based proteins)
How To Stop Eating Junk Food At Work?
Compared to eating healthy at home, making healthy food choices on a busy work day can sometimes prove to be nearly impossible. The situation becomes even worse if you have a busy schedule that does not leave you enough time to have a full meal, walk over to your favourite healthy food restaurant, or even have lunch at all.
Sometimes, social gatherings (or rather eating with work friends) can also lead you to making unhealthy food choices. If you are craving control over how to stop eating junk food at work, here are some tips to help you overcome this.
Healthy eating is something that has to be intentional because sadly, it does not come easily or naturally to us. Whether your office has a vending machine, an in-house kitchen, or has food companies delivering meals and snacks to workers, chances are that most of the food offered and delivered is quite unhealthy.
The easiest way to avoid temptation is to come to the office prepared. If you have an early morning meeting, make sure you arrive full; eat at home, on the train, or in a cab on your way to work. You could also pack your breakfast and eat it right before the meeting. Being full keeps you from consuming the high carb and high sugar food options offered at work functions.
Have A Snack Drawer
If you are lucky enough to have a desk with drawers, move your things around and dedicate one drawer (or at least half of it) to healthy snacks. Always keep this stash full of different healthy snacks for whenever you get hungry during work hours. If you do not have a drawer, be sure to put a healthy snack or two in your bag every morning before work. Such a simple practice can save you from eating unhealthy food while in the office.
Do Not Skip Breakfast
How many times have you snoozed your alarm clock, only to wake up late and dash from your house without having breakfast? On such days, did you end up indulging in a donut, croissant, or any other take away breakfast option that was full of sugar and carbs?
If your answer to any or both of these questions was a resounding ‘yes’ then you need to reconsider your morning habits. Starting your day off in the right way sets the tone for your day and sometimes the whole week. Always allocate yourself 10 to 20 minutes to have breakfast each morning. This allows you enough time to make a fantastic protein rich meal that will keep you full until snack or lunch time.
Sit Down And Focus When You Eat
According to a systematic review published online in 2013, we tend to eat more when we are distracted (2). Eating and working through your lunch break may end up making you eat more than you normally would because your mind is on other things and not your meal.
Do Not Starve Yourself
Contrary to what many of us think, weight loss does not mean not eating. While it is true that losing weight calls for a calorie deficit, it does not mean starving yourself. When you eat too little, you will always be hungry, always be thinking about food, making it quite easy for you to fall off the wagon at work and eat that donut, or fries.
If you are unsure what your recommended deficit should be, download a reputable fitness tracker app – like the BetterMe Calorie Tracker – and it can help you determine how much food you need to eat to lose weight. You can also speak to your doctor and s/he can help you learn your deficit.
Pack Your Lunch
Snacks are not the only thing that you should consider carrying to the office. Carrying your lunch to work is another way on how to stop eating junk food while in the office. Invest in a lunch box and carry your healthy meals from home to work. It saves you money, ensures that you are eating healthily, and can help with weight loss.
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Get A Fitness Companion
If you lack the willpower to stop eating junk food by yourself, find a trusted co-worker and inform them of your goals and rules. Your companion can do the healthy eating challenge with you, they can keep an eye on you making sure that you do not snack on the wrong things.
Drink More Water
Instead of investing in fit teas which are more often than not fitness fads, choose to drink more water during the day. It is a natural appetite suppressant that can prevent you from feeling hungry often.
Learn How To Say ‘No’
Whenever you are offered snacks at work, learn how to politely say no. This will save you the trouble of having to eat unhealthy food and snacks at work.
How To Stop Eating Junk Food At Night?
Figuring out how to stop yourself from eating junk food during the day is sometimes much easier as compared to learning how to stop eating junk food at night. Boredom, midnight cravings and other multiple factors tend to make it harder for us to make healthy food choices at night.
With that being said, however, it does not mean that you cannot work on learning how to control these cravings and rid yourself of these bad habits. Listed below are some tips on how to stop eating junk food in the evenings or at night.
Find Out The Root Of The Problem
The quickest way to deal with an issue is to find out the root of it and deal with it from there. Eating junk food at night can be caused by any of the following issues
This is a serious eating disorder that is often characterized by eating unusually large quantities of food without being able to stop (1).
What differentiates being eating from a random case of excessive eating is that in the former, people do so regularly – to a point where it is unusual – and they are wholly unable to control themselves.
If you are suffering from a binge-eating disorder, you may find that you are eating junk food at night because binge-eaters are known to eat in secret and feel depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about their disorder.
2. Night-Eating Syndrome
Also known as NES, it is an eating disorder whereby people often find themselves eating a lot after dinner, have trouble sleeping, and eat whenever they wake up at night.
Unlike binge-eating, those suffering from night eating syndrome often consume about 25% of their daily food intake after dinner. Also night-eating does not happen every day but is suspected to occur at least twice per week for three months. It should also be noted that NES can be combined with binge-eating or just grazing (frequent eating of an undefined portion of food, during undefined periods of the night, with short intervals between each ‘graze’) (5).
3. Emotional Reasons
Emotional eating often happens when people use food to connect with feelings of comfort, power, positivity, or for any other reasons than providing fuel to their body. The food acts as a filler for any emotional void that they may have.
According to Psychology Today emotional eating can start from childhood, growing with us to adulthood. Those who abuse food in this way may be using it as a way to either punish themselves for something they did earlier in the day or as a way to gain control over their lives -may be because they feel like everything else in their life is controlled by others or is spiraling out of control and they cannot do anything to change it (8).
If you can identify with any of these factors, then please make an appointment to speak with your doctor. They will be able to help you figure out how to stop eating junk food at night by working with you to treat and deal with these feelings and urges. Suffering from an eating disorder can be scary, but professional treatment can help.
Track Your Calorie Intake
As we all know, weight loss is a combination of exercise and a healthy calorie deficit diet. If you find that you keep eating unhealthy foods at night, then tracking your macros may be the answer on how to stop yourself from eating junk food at night. Tracking helps you realize how much calories these unhealthy foods have and how much they add to your calorie intake for the day.
Have Set Eating And Sleeping Times
Lack of sleep is one of the major reasons while most people find themselves overeating and reaching out for more comfort (junk) foods. According to the Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep triggers increased levels of ghrelin (hunger hormone) and decreased levels of leptin (satiety hormones). This can make you eat more than you are required to for weight loss (6).
Another factor to note is that a sleepy brain is a tired brain; one that finds it hard to make the best healthy decisions. When you are sleep deprived, chances are that you will happily skip the salad and go for the big plate of loaded fries or have a whole pizza by yourself.
Having set eating and sleeping times ensures that:
- You have enough time to sleep helping you wake up feeling refreshed and with a sharp mind
- Prevents midnight snacking. The later you stay awake the higher the chances that you will feel hungry – and we all know that you would rather have that cookie dough ice-cream than two boiled eggs at this time.
- You are able to space out your meals. I.e., if you set your bedtime for 11 p.m. and awake time at 6 a.m. it can help you effectively plan your healthy meals and snacks throughout the day making sure that you are satiated all though and are unlikely to eat unhealthy food at night.
Clear Out Your Pantry And Fridge
When it comes to how to stop eating junk food at home then this might be the best piece of advice that you will ever get. Take a day out of your routine and take everything out of your fridge and pantry. Separate all the healthy and unhealthy food options into piles. Return all the healthy things to their respective places and then throw out or donate all the unhealthy foods.
Once you are done, make a shopping list and find healthy replacements for every (or most of the) things that you have taken out. If you find that you can’t stop eating junk food then this is quite an effective way to put a stop to it; after all, if you do not have access to it, you cannot eat it.
Delete Your Food Delivery Apps
While sometimes these apps can be quite convenient, more often than not they lead to us making bad food choices. Having the convenience of ordering a piece of cake, some pizza, burgers, and fries in the middle of the night makes it that much easier for you to eat junk food at night. Do yourself (and your wallet) a favor by deleting them.
Another great trick on how to stop eating junk food at night is to always make sure that you have healthy, nutritious, and wholesome foods at the ready. Take a couple of hours every Sunday to prepare your meals (or necessary ingredients) and snacks for the coming week. Having some granola bars in the fridge can prevent you from buying those chocolate bars from the shop.
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Reduce Your Stress Levels
If you find that you can’t stop eating junk food then you should consider looking at your stress levels. Emotional eating is often related to strong emotions such as stress. An important distinction to make, however, is that long-term and not short-term increased stress levels are the most likely culprit in consuming junk food.
Short-term stress usually affects your nervous system, sending messages to the adrenal glands making them produce epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). Increased adrenaline in the body triggers your fight-or-flight response, which in turn temporarily shuts down your appetite.
Long-term stress does the opposite. It triggers the production of cortisol, a hormone known for increasing your appetite. When cortisol is released into your bloodstream, it increases your cravings for sugary or fatty foods (9). If you are stressed out and wondering how to stop eating junk food, try meditating. This practice has been shown to help with controlling stress levels, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and achieve a greater capacity for relaxation.
Eat More Protein Throughout The Day
Protein does not only work on how to stop eating junk food but it also helps in controlling how much food you consume overall during the day. If you are wondering how to stop eating junk food and lose weight then increased protein in your diet is part of the answer.
When consumed, this macronutrient takes longer to digest thus helping you stay fuller for longer. If you ensure to have a protein source in all your meals for the day, you will find that you end up consuming less food than you do on other days.
Staying full, reduces your chances of consuming junk food and overeating. In terms of weight loss, protein not only reduces your calorie intake but it also boosts your metabolism as your body uses more calories to breakdown and digest it (4).
Find A Balance
Just because you cannot indulge in your usual junk food options does not mean that you cannot find some healthy junk food replacements for them. Healthy junk food is just a healthier alternative to most fast foods and snacks. Examples include (3):
- Seeded crackers instead of the usual cheese and crackers or bagel chips
- Beef jerky with cucumber instead of cheese slices
- Homemade yogurt bark in place of frozen yogurt
- Kombucha or unsweetened iced tea instead of sodas or energy drinks
- Kale chips instead of potato chips
- Frozen fruits instead of candy, etc.
The Bottom Line
Learning how to stop eating junk food is not as hard as you assume it is. Like everything else that is worth it in life, it requires planning and dedication for it to bear fruits/ If you cannot stop eating junk food and are craving control over this, try implementing the above-mentioned tips and tricks in your everyday and you shall master the issue at hand.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Binge-eating disorder (2018, mayoclinic.org)
- Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Healthy Junk Food Snacks to Satisfy Your Biggest Cravings (2020, oprahmag.com)
- How Protein Can Help You Lose Weight Naturally (2017, healthline.com)
- Night Eating Syndrome (2019, verwywellmind.com)
- Sleep and Overeating (n.d., sleepfoundation.org)
- What Are the 5 Main Food Groups? (2020, medicinenet.com)
- What’s Behind Emotional Overeating? (2012, psychologytoday.com)
- Why stress causes people to overeat (2020, health.harvard.edu)