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Weight is a constant struggle for many people across the nation, especially with all the pressures of society on our shoulders. So many of us eat when we are bored or to relieve stress, and of course we don’t turn to carrots and apples. We want junk food. Things like added sugar, salt, fat and other chemicals are designed to make us crave more, so naturally those are the things we reach for when we are looking to snack. Well folks, this can be avoided if you train your brain to crave healthy food instead of the usual junk food. Here are a few tips on how to do so:
First, only eat when you are actually hungry. Realize that food is not a replacement for thirst or to take your mind off something that is bothering you. If you are really hungry and looking for a snack, practice the five-ingredient rule; if there are more than five ingredients on a food label, that’s considered to be a red flag, don’t buy it. Also, aim for three colors. Studies show that people prefer three food items of three different colors on their plate compared to more or less of each. So fill your plate with fruit slices and a small square of dark chocolate, this way you will mix a variety of colors, textures and nutrients.
If you have a favorite time of day when you usually go for that unhealthy snack, try and change your routine. If your guilty pleasure is visiting the vending machine at your 3pm break, go for a 10 minute walk around the building instead. This will leave you feeling better about yourself and you will have added some extra exercise to your day, a win-win situation! If you do like to snack, choose a healthy one, like red grapes or clementines. These are sweet fruits that may kill off your cravings. Put all the healthier items you have in your fridge near the front, this way when you are going to grab something to eat you will grab the healthy stuff.
Everyone has what is referred to as a “trigger” food, the one thing you just cannot pass up if it’s put in front of you. If you can identify what this is for you, you’re already headed down the road to success. For some its chocolate, for others is a big juicy burger from a fast food joint. Whatever your trigger food is, stay away from it. Don’t buy it, don’t go down the aisle where it lives in the grocery store, avoid it at all costs. Another tactic for avoiding the junk food you love most is to investigate where it comes from and what it’s made of - you may just gross yourself out and be better able to avoid it! Here’s one that may make you cringe: the vitamin D added to many yogurts is actually manufactured from sheep’s grease. Gross, right? Try it, you never know what you may find.
And one last simple little tip to take with you today is to chew your food more than you need to. If you chew more, you will find yourself eating less overall. The slower you eat the better because you will get fuller on smaller amounts of food rather than scarfing down what 2 people would normally eat. Remember: it takes the stomach 20 minutes to tell the brain it’s full!
Take all of these tips with you over the next few days and see how you do. Hopefully you will kick those junk food cravings, start moving more and begin eating colorful, healthy snacks. Good luck!