How to Escape Junk Food Meltdowns
By Sandy Schroeder
Most of us have a special little “junk food world” that we slip into occasionally. Usually, we keep it under control, but sometimes when stress mounts and the phone simply will not stop ringing, the junk food pull wins. Out come the cookies, chips, or pastries. Then we stuff them back into the drawer and go have a really healthy dinner.
But long range, there are better answers to escape the junk food grip.
First, it’s important to know that junk food can be just as addictive as cigarettes, caffeine or alcohol. Not too long ago, University of California Irvine scientist Dr. Daniele Piomelli and UCI colleagues found dietary fats in foods, such as potato chips, trigger a response similar to marijuana, making them irresistible. Dr. Pomelli said this explains why it is practically impossible to eat just one chip.
Ways to Fight Back
Here are some ways to escape the grip of junk food.
Recognize the enemy – Figure out what sets off your binges, coming from the food groups of fats, sugars, salt, wheat, flour and artificial sweeteners. Cookies may be your downfall. Or salty fries may head the list.
Bring in replacements – Line up healthy foods that you enjoy. Brown rice can replace pasta. Fruit tarts can sub for fudge brownies. Spinach and feta cheese pie might replace pizza. Pull in as many healthy choices as possible and keep tossing the junk food.
Guard against ambushes – Plan menus and steer clear of tempting spots like pizza parties or donuts in the coffee room. Stock up on nuts, fresh fruits and veggies, yogurts, sugar-free juices and teas. If you can’t avoid tempting spots like holiday parties, head for the salads, and lean protein like fish and chicken.
Learn to weather temptation – They say if you can make it through the first 10 minutes without caving, you may just let the urge go. Of course, if you are like me, you might wake up at 3 a.m., and remember what it was you missed!
Reduce Stress – The lower your stress levels, the less likely you are going to vote for burgers at lunch. Find ways to reduce stress at home and at work. Try meditation, hobbies, or favorite sports.
Researchers say it takes at least four weeks to break the cycle of addiction. The longer you stay away, the less power it may have. Later, you may even be able to enjoy an old favorite occasionally without losing control.
I have managed to let go of my addiction to fudge. But I am still working on my attachment to double burgers with fries. Whatever your demons happen to be, keep going and win the battle.
To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.