Nutritional and Lifestyle Strategies to Combat Junk Food Cravings

How can we stop the cycle of craving junk foods? What can we do to stick a wrench in that wheel and pause the roller coaster of heavy and unhealthy foods?

The truth is, much of our desire for unhealthy foods is actually emotionally related: we often want heavy food to suppress feelings.

However, to some extent our cravings can be attributed to physical conditions, and so there are a number of things you can do to change the physical component of your cravings.

Here are some things to try:

  1. Eat or drink leafy greens every single day

Leafy greens are any vegetable that is leafy. This would include the usual players like spinach, lettuce and kale, but also includes others like dandelion greens and arugula, as well as some leafy herbs like basil, cilantro and parsley. Additionally, certain leafy components of vegetables would also count, such as beet greens and radish greens.

Leafy greens are chock-full of alkaline minerals and vitamins. They can seriously influence your body’s chemistry to lean more towards healthy physical cravings.

Get them through green juices, smoothies, salads, soups, or any other kind of cooked or raw method.

  • Stay hydrated

Many of us mistakenly think we are hungry when we are actually thirsty, so keeping well-hydrated is absolutely key.

Many people go by the recommendation of ½ your body’s weight in ounces per day, however for some people they actually need more than that.

Remember that anything with caffeine will dehydrate you and does not count towards your hydration goal. Fizzy drinks and sodas also do not count. The only beverages that should count in this calculation is plain water and non-caffeinated herbal tea (such as peppermint tea, chamomile tea).

Your body is the most dehydrated when you wake up in the morning, so this is a perfect time to down a large portion of your daily water.

  • Eat more plant-based protein

Plant-based protein is far lighter than animal-based protein and will be easier for your body to digest. This means your body can utilize the protein from plant-based sources without draining anywhere near as much energy as it does when it tries to utilize protein from animal sources.

Incorporate protein such as lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh, edamame, vegan protein powder, and protein rich seeds such as chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds.

A higher plant-based protein intake means you’ll feel more full and satisfied, get lots of fiber into your system and reduce your physical cravings.

  • Get enough sleep, and get productive sleep

A lack of sleep, and/or a lack of productive sleep, is attributed to increased junk food cravings. A good measure of thumb to determine whether you’re getting enough sleep is, “Do I wake abruptly when the alarm goes off or have I already started to wake up by that point?”

If you’re getting enough sleep, your alarm is more of a backup and a mental reassurance that you won’t sleep in, but in practicality, 95% of the time you’d be awake or waking up naturally before the alarm went off. This indicates your body’s sleep cycle has finished and whatever amount of hours you had was the right amount for you. If the alarm jolts you awake, you are not getting enough hours by that point for your particular body.

Productive sleep is also important. It needs to be dark, quiet, and fairly cool in your bedroom to get the best sleep. Consider also getting a mattress which won’t move too much if your partner gets up and down.

Try these strategies and see how your physical cravings improve!

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