It can be tough to eat healthy when you're on the go. Between work, social events, and trying to find time for yourself, it's easy to slip into bad habits. One of the most common bad habits is eating junk food. This can quickly lead to weight gain and other health problems. In this blog post, we will discuss 10 ways that you can avoid eating junk food and eat healthier alternatives instead!
Let's Explore The Health Risks Of Eating Junk Food
Unhealthy eating patterns have multiple pillars and one of them is simply over consumption but eating the wrong foods is just as important when it comes to eating more healthy. While most people would agree that so called, "Junk Food" is a bad thing to eat, the reason is more than just a sheer number of excess calories.
What is Junk Food?
While there is no official definition of junk food, most health experts agree that it is highly processed, high in calories and fat, and often low in nutrients. Common examples of junk foods include fast food, fried foods like French fries or chicken nuggets, chips, candy bars or other sugary snacks, carbonated beverages, and packaged baked goods like cookies or cakes.
Some people may think that eating these types of foods on occasion isn't a big deal – and they might be right. However, as we eat more junk food over time our body begins to become accustomed to these types of foods which can lead to overeating later on down the road. Additionally, depending on how junk food are prepared (fried vs baked), the added ingredients can make them even more fattening and detrimental to our health.
The Health Risks of Eating Junk Food
So what are the health risks associated with eating junk food? While many would think that the biggest risk is the consumption of excess calories, there are actually other far more serious impacts on our body when we eat too much junk food. These include:
Increased obesity risk – Because most junk foods contain large amounts of fat and added sugars which quickly cause weight gain, one of the biggest risks for those who regularly consume these types of foods is an increased obesity risk. In fact, according to recent studies done by Harvard University, children who ate fast food two or more times each week had a higher chance of becoming obese than those who never had fast food.
Increased risk of diabetes – Junk foods are generally high in sugar, carbs and processed ingredients that elevate your blood sugar levels which can lead to diabetes over time. In fact, according to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, children who ate fast food at least twice per week were more likely to develop insulin resistance, pre-diabetes or full-blown type 2 diabetes later on in life compared to those who never ate fast food.
Higher risk of heart disease – Many junk foods like deep fried foods, packaged baked goods and sugary beverages have a high content of saturated fat or trans fat which has been linked to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes. According to a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who ate fried foods 3 or more times per week had a higher risk of developing high LDL cholesterol levels compared to those who rarely consumed fried foods.
Digestive issues – Eating too much junk food can cause all sorts of digestive problems, including constipation, cramps, bloating, flatulence and diarrhea. This is because many junk foods like fast food burgers are usually deep-fried and contain various additives that disrupt our digestive processes in different ways which can make it harder for us to absorb nutrients from our food.
What Are Your Junk Food Triggers?
As we have seen, there are many health risks associated with eating too much junk food. However, this doesn't mean that you can never eat these foods again! The key is to just be aware of your eating patterns and triggers so that you can easily eliminate unhealthy habits and replace them with healthier alternatives. Some common junk food triggers include:
Restaurant foods – It's easy to overeat when you're out at a restaurant. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy options available so you don't have to feel deprived while still getting the nutrition your body needs. For example, order a grilled chicken sandwich instead of a fried version or use olive oil in place of butter on pasta dishes for added flavor without added fat. Also consider ordering smaller portions to reduce your calorie intake.
Convenient foods – It can be difficult to avoid the unhealthy convenience foods that are always readily available, but it is possible! Just try to plan ahead and stock up on healthy snacks like nuts, carrots, fruits and veggies when you're at the grocery store so that you don't have to resort to chips if you get a sudden hunger craving between meals. Also remember that portion control is essential for weight maintenance.
Celebrations – Sure, birthdays and weddings are all about having fun with food, but they don't have to be all about junk food! You can still indulge in some of your favorite treats while enjoying a healthier lifestyle by trying out healthier versions of sweets like protein bars or energy balls made with natural sweeteners instead of refined sugar. Also, try to have just one small treat so that you don't feel deprived and end up over-indulging in something unhealthy.
How To Find Success With Healthier Eating Options
If you are looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle, it can be difficult to find the motivation and willpower to stick with your goals. However, there are plenty of strategies that you can use to ensure your success. Here are some tips for finding success with healthier eating options:
Have healthy snacks on hand
It's much easier to resist the urge to reach for unhealthy foods when you have healthy snacks readily available. Stock up on nutritious options like fruits, nuts, seeds and veggies that can help keep your energy levels up and satisfy hunger cravings without derailing your health goals.
Drink plenty of water
Many people tend to mistake hunger for dehydration, which can lead them to overeat. To avoid this problem, make sure that you are drinking enough water throughout the day so that your body is properly hydrated. This will also help keep your digestive system running smoothly and may even help you lose some extra weight!
Avoid eating out at fast-food restaurants
If you are at a restaurant where you have no control over the menu, it can be tempting to just order whatever appeals to you in the moment. However, by preparing ahead of time and bringing your own food with you or cooking meals at home, you'll be able to avoid junk foods that contain high levels of sodium and other additives.
Choose healthier options when you do eat out
Even when you are eating at a restaurant, there are still plenty of healthier options available to you. Just make sure that you choose foods that contain whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats rather than junk foods like pizza or fried chicken.
Avoid "Freezer Meals"
The convenience of freezer meals can be appealing, but it is important to remember that most frozen foods are high in sodium and other additives like preservatives and artificial colors. Instead, try cooking a few healthy meals ahead of time so that you always have healthy meal options ready when you need them.
Cook more meals at home
Cooking at home is a great way to ensure that you are eating healthy, nutritious foods. It can be helpful to cook in batches so that you have meals ready to go for the week ahead. Whether you decide to learn how to make Salisbury steak or master the art of nutritious yet mouth watering salads, you’ll be able to monitor and control every ingredient that goes into your body if you make it yourself! Stick with lots of fresh fruit and veg, lean protein, complex carbohydrates and small portions of healthy fats if you want to thrive.
Not only will this help keep your energy levels up and prevent unhealthy snacking, but it can also save you money in the long run.
Make a list before you go grocery shopping
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to adopting healthier eating habits is navigating the supermarket and making sure that you are only buying healthy foods. To make this process easier, take some time before you go to the store to create a list of all the foods that you need based
Get moving! Exercise is a key part of a healthy lifestyle
Make sure that you are getting enough physical activity each day. Whether it's taking a walk after dinner, going for a jog or lifting weights at the gym, find ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine to help you stay on track with your health goals and avoid junk foods.
Stay positive and don't give up!
Finally, remember that adopting a healthier lifestyle is a process and will take time. If you fall off track or slip up from time to time, don't get discouraged. Just keep moving forward and stay focused on your long-term goals. With the right mindset and strategies, you can find success with your healthier eating habits in no time!