It can be easy to default to eating junk food. Once we start it can be even easier to overeat these junk foods that we don’t really need.
Why is that? Why can people be so disciplined in certain areas of their lives but still overeat junk food?
This post is going to look into some of the reasons that make it easy to overeat junk food, and what we can do to help ourselves be more aware of the choices that we are making.
As we go through this remember that junk food doesn’t have to be food that you never eat. Don’t beat yourself up anytime you eat a dessert. However, if we are trying to improve our health and bodies then we are going to want to have junk foods on the “eat less often” side of the spectrum. You may even find that the less often you have these foods, the more you actually enjoy them when you do have them.
So what are some of the reasons overeating junk food is easy?
Marketing makes the food seem better for you than it really is
Buzzwords like “Organic”, “Gluten free”, or “Vegan” can give us the impression that the food is Healthier than it really is. Sometimes there is barely any difference between an organic option and the normal one. Bright colored packaging, celebrity endorsements, or slogans can also give us positive associations with junk foods to lead us to buy them more often.
Processed foods often come in larger quantities.
Processed foods usually offer larger amounts of food (more calories). Everyone one wants to feel like they are getting a good deal, so choosing a higher quantity, less healthy option is an easy habit to develop.
Junk foods can offer a lot of variety.
Our appetite will increase the more variety that is available to us. Not only a variety of flavors but also textures. Imagine eating plain oatmeal vs. a trail mix with pretzels, nuts, and some chocolate. Which one would you be more likely to overeat?
Along with this, junk foods are designed to be intensely flavored and easy to chew to encourage you to continue to come back again and again.
Six things you can do to stop overeating junk food:
1. Be aware of your chewing
Eating more slowly allows us to be more aware of our hunger and fullness cues. So try to pay attention to how full you are feeling and if you actually want to keep eating. Sitting at a table, put utensils down periodically, and having at least 20 minutes per meal can help you listen to your body more.
2. Evaluate the food you keep at home.
If you want to be able to change the way you shop for food, you need to know how you are shopping right now. Are you buying foods because of healthy buzzwords on the packaging? A Celebrity endorsement? Take time to think about what and why you are buying and try to take a small step to improve.
3. Look for habits that lead to you overeating
People often turn to food when they aren’t hungry. This can be because of stress, a social situation, or feeling. Identifying where, when and why some situations trigger you to overeat can help you avoid unwanted overeating in the future.
4. Find Healthy Habits that support your goals
Once you’ve found areas of your life that trigger you and lead you to overeating, try to add in healthy habits you enjoy that can relieve stress. These can be a lot of different things, for example: walking, exercising, reading, or spending time with friends. There are a lot of options that could be healthy for you so give some a try!
5. Put Quality over Quantity
Look to prioritize healthy whole foods over more processed ones. If you want you can create categories of foods that you want to eat more of, some or, or less of. This can help you stay on track while shopping.
6. Give yourself grace.
Crash dieting and strict rules may work in the short term. But if you are wanting to make changes to your health understand that that takes time. Not every meal will be perfectly healthy, but if you continue to take small steps you can reach your goals.