Ditching junk food is probably the single most important step in improving your nutrition. Most junk food is full of empty calories that have no (or very little) nutritional value. Many of these calories come from sugar and fats and they will do nothing but increase weight and body fat.
Junk food can also make you feel bloated and sluggish, sap your energy and even affect your mood. The long term effects of eating junk food can be extreme, from causing you to be overweight to contributing to serious conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Why do people love junk food? The truth is that our brains have very positive reactions to fatty and sugary foods. Junk food can be addictive, leading to regular cravings for more junk, and there’s often an emotional element to our relationship with junk food too.
Cravings for ice cream, chips, soda and cookies are common and difficult to overcome. In order to beat these potentially dangerous food addictions, you need to retrain your body, change old habits and change tastes. It takes time and effort, but, it can be done.
Removing junk food from your diet is an important way to become proactive when it comes to your health.
How To Remove Junk Food From Your Diet
It starts with some common sense.
Many people say it’s cheaper to eat junk food than it is to eat healthy food. Or they use the excuse that they just don’t like the way healthy food tastes.
First you need to reprogram your taste buds to get used to eating healthy foods. If you’ve been eating junk food all of your life, this is what your body is used to and what it will crave, but you really can retrain your body and your mind to crave healthy foods.
It is not cheaper to eat junk food
Let’s forget about the fact that you will save thousands on medical bills by eating healthy and let’s look at what you are spending right now.
Potato Chips Versus Oranges
A bag of potato chips costs about $3.99 this will usually last a family of four one day, if that long.
Now let’s look at a bag of oranges. One bag of oranges costs about $4 on average. When you buy a bag of oranges you will get 8-10 oranges. This can make as many as 16 snacks which can last up to four days for a family of four.
Potato chips are loaded with fat, salt and a lot of calories. 1 ounce of plain chips has around 160 calories, 1 grams of fat and 170 grams of sodium (7% of your daily allowance).
An orange has 0 fat, 0 salt and only 45 calories. Plus, it’s loaded with essential nutrients, like vitamin C (a whopping 85% of the daily recommended allowance), plus potassium and fiber.
When eating a bag of potato chips you may be watching television, letting all of that fat attach itself to your body, but, when you eat that orange, you are energized simply by the smell of it.
And, this is just one example of how junk food compares to healthier options. Next time you go to the market do some comparison shopping and you’ll see that the prices of healthy foods aren’t so different from junk food.
There are also plenty of healthier snack options available that can fill kids’ lunch boxes with healthier alternatives.
It may take some planning when you are removing junk food from your diet, but, it is possible to eat healthy on the same budget you have right now.
Healthier Substitutions For Junk food
When you remove junk food from your diet you will find that you suffer from cravings. Here are a few substitutions you can use to get past the cravings.
- A square of dark chocolate instead of a chocolate candy bar
- Unsalted pretzels or no butter popcorn instead of chips
- Baked vegetable strips instead of chips
- Raw nuts instead of chips for a crunchy snack
- Plain yogurt with fruit, honey, or nuts instead of ice cream
- Flavored sparkling water instead of soda
- Fresh fruit instead of cake and cookies
- Raisins instead of candy
- Cherries instead of candy
Substituting in Recipes
There are also ways that you can alter your favorite recipes to create a healthier version. For example instead of using butter in your cakes and cookies you can create a healthier version by substituting the butter with apple sauce.
You can also sometimes use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or mayonnaise. If you are a real lover of mayonnaise than try replacing it with avocado on your sandwiches. It has the same texture and you never miss the empty calories of the mayonnaise.
These are just a few things that you can do to remove the junk food from your diet. Start small and slowly replace the junk food with healthier alternatives. Here's to your good health and the health of your family.
Need more inspiration? Click here to watch the Food Matters film now.