How to Stop Eating Fast Food
Fast food is a mainstay of many people’s diets, due to its low cost, widespread availability, and appealing taste. However, fast food also causes a variety of health problems and can sometimes be addictive. Fortunately, by eliminating the temptation to eat fast food and replacing it with healthier alternatives, you can greatly reduce your fast food intake and hopefully stop eating it entirely.
Write down the reasons why you want to give up fast food.You may want to stop eating fast food to improve your health, lose weight, save money, or any number of reasons. Reminding yourself of your reason for stopping will help you be able to resist cravings for fast food when they hit.
- Write your reason or reasons for stopping on a sticky note and place it somewhere you’ll see it when you feel tempted to eat fast food (e.g., in your car) to maximize its effectiveness.
Identify your trigger foods and avoid them as much as possible.If there are certain fast foods, such as burgers, fries, or milkshakes, that cause you to crave fast food, it’s important that you limit your exposure to them. The less you expose yourself to your trigger foods, the less you’ll be tempted to eat fast food.
- You may want to institute a complete ban on your trigger foods, at least until you feel like you’ve gotten your fast food habit under control.
- If you’re out with others who want to eat your trigger foods, be willing to tell them that that would make you feel uncomfortable. They will probably understand and be willing to eat something else to accommodate you.
Plan regular meals throughout the week to avoid being hungry.It’s easy to opt for convenient fast food when you’re hungry and out of healthy options to eat. To avoid putting yourself in this position, make a meal plan and prepare all of your meals for the coming week ahead of time.
- Do as much of the prep work for your meals as you can. If the meals include multi-step preparations, such as marinating meat before cooking it, do these preparations at the start of the week and freeze or refrigerate the ingredients until it’s time to cook.
- Bring healthy snacks you can eat at school or work during your meal breaks to avoid falling back on fast food when you’re hungry. If the snacks are non-perishable, leave some in your office for future use.
Recognize when stress triggers you to eat fast food.Fast food is unfortunately very appealing as a comfort food during times of great stress. Thus, you can greatly reduce the temptation to eat fast food by avoiding stress or by dealing with stress in more healthy ways.
- Some healthy ways of dealing with stress include doing yoga, meditating, or speaking to a therapist.
- If you’re stressed out about work or some other task, remind yourself before doing anything else that eating fast food won’t reduce the amount of work you need to do.
- In stressful situations, reach out to other people for help or camaraderie before turning to fast food. Talking with other people is a great way to alleviate stress in a healthy way.
Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night to keep your willpower strong.Studies have shown that when you don’t get enough sleep, you tend to crave junk food more. Aim for around 8 hours of restful sleep each night to stay energized and avoid craving fast food.
- Try to go to bed at a reasonable hour every night. This will not only help you to get enough sleep each night, but will also help prevent late night cravings for fast food.
Find healthy ways to deal with emotional issues without comfort food.Like when we’re stressed, we often turn to fast food when we’re sad, lonely, or experiencing some other negative emotion. Instead of using fast food to deal with these issues, find healthy alternatives you can use to grapple with your negative emotions.
- Good examples of healthy means of dealing with your emotions include journaling, exercising, or expressing yourself creatively.
- If you’re experiencing serious emotional issues, you may need to seek professional help to treat them.
Eat a variety of healthy foods to avoid feeling bored with your diet.One of the more common complaints from people who switch from fast food to healthy food is that the healthy food is bland or boring. To avoid falling into a rut, experiment with a wide variety of ingredients and recipes that are healthy but also exciting.
- Examples of exciting but healthy foods might include BBQ chicken chopped salad, sriracha fish tacos, or cinnamon baked sweet potatoes.
- There are a lot of cookbooks and websites dedicated to healthy cooking, such as EatingWell and Whole Heartedly Healthy, that you can use to find new recipes to try out in the kitchen.
- For even more excitement, try adding new spices and sauces to recipes you’ve cooked before. For example, add sriracha sauce to fried rice or Asian noodles for a spicy kick.
Use fruits, vegetables, and nuts in lieu of fast food as a snack.Nuts are great sources of protein which will help you feel full when you’re hungry and give you energy throughout the day. Fruits and vegetables, meanwhile, are chock full of the nutrients your body needs every day.
- Eating fruits like apples and bananas will also help to satisfy your sweet tooth, if you ever crave fast food desserts.
- Consider carrying around nuts in a plastic jar or small baggie wherever you go so you can have them with you at all times.
Replace soda with water to help manage your cravings.Drinking enough water each day will help you stay hydrated and thus prevent misplaced feelings of hunger. Men should drink roughly 3.7 litres (130 fl oz) of water per day and women should drink 2.7 litres (91 fl oz) per day. Replacing soda with water will also limit your sugar intake and reduce your cravings for sugary foods like fast food desserts.
- You should avoid diet sodas as well, if possible. Although they don’t contain sugar, evidence suggests they can still reinforce an addiction to sugar.
- Carry a refillable water bottle with you wherever you go to be able to drink water no matter where you are.
Allow yourself a little fast food from time to time to make quitting easier.It’s perfectly normal to have trouble quitting fast food cold turkey. If this is the case, be willing to have “cheat meals” every once in a while to wean yourself off fast food more gradually.
- Limit yourself to 1-2 cheat meals each week, eating small portions at each meal. You should try to limit your intake of fast food as much as possible.
- Try cooking healthier versions of your favorite fast foods at home. You may find this allows you to still get the taste of fast food without suffering the health consequences of eating it!
Choose healthier fast food options if you can’t give it up entirely.Although almost no fast food option is entirely healthy, there are some options that are healthier than others. Opt for salads and grilled foods instead of fried and breaded items to minimize the impact of fast food on your health.
- If you choose salad, be wary of putting a lot of dressing or cheese on it, as these can add a lot of hidden calories and sugar to your otherwise healthy meal.
- If you don’t see any healthy options on the menu, don’t be afraid to ask for healthier options or substitutions. Restaurant staff may be willing to accommodate you if you ask nicely.
- Beating a fast food addiction, like getting over any other addiction, is a lot easier when you’re not going it alone. Talk to friends and family about your goals for your diet and ask if you can rely on them for support when you need it.
Video: How to Stop Eating Junk Food: 10 Tips
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