5 Ways to Reduce “Junk Food” & Eat a More Whole Foods Diet
- Evaluate your emotional connection to junk food. Are you addicted? It might feel dramatic to be talking about being “addicted” to junk food, but hear me out: How do you feel when that first crunchy, delicious potato chip hits your mouth? How about as you lick the chocolate frosting off the top of your favorite cupcake? You know that kind of joy I’m talking about. It’s HEAVENLY. It’s why we grab the salty snacks when we’re stressed and the ice cream when we’re sad… for that dopamine hit! There’s a reason they call it comfort food… Ok, so maybe it isn’t the food itself we’re addicted to; maybe it’s the comfort? The pleasure? The feeling of control? The energy boost? However we look at it, there’s something about that processed food that makes us keep coming back for more. It’s THAT that we need to tackle first. What else can we do when we’re stressed? What else can make us feel better when we’re sad? What else can we do, or even eat, when we need energy that isn’t full of sugar/salt/fat. Let’s start there. <3 Share with us – what’s something you can do that brings you joy when you’re sad/stressed that is NOT related to food?
- Start assessing snacks. First, let’s clean up the definition of a snack. What it doesn’t need to be: Something in a single serve package; something that isn’t eaten at a meal time; something special. What it does need to be: a typically smaller portion of food eaten between two meals; something nourishing to give your body energy. How does this change your definition of a snack? Now, a less processed snack could be: a piece of fruit & some almonds some raw vegetables & guacamole, hummus & whole grain crackers… but it could ALSO be: leftover pasta salad, half a PB sandwich, a small veggie wrap, a cup of soup, etc. Focus on eating more than one food group to give yourself lasting energy and a good balance of nutrients.
- Start swapping! When it comes to meals, start to incorporate more whole food swaps into your favorite dishes you already make: canned soup –> vegetable broth and frozen vegetables, sour cream –> cashew cheese, white rice –> brown rice, apple juice –> the whole apple, sausage –> beans & spices Swap one thing at a time and your meals will transform before your eyes! This is one kind of thing I help clients do: take a look at what they’re already eating and find ways to swap/adapt/adjust in order to provide nourishment and meet health goals (while still staying tasty!)
- Avoid additives. (Sugar and sodium and oils, oh my!) I love the saying, “Food doesn’t have ingredients; food IS ingredients!” A simple way to eat healthier is to eat food with fewer additives. Many ingredients are added to packaged foods for “flavor” or preservation that our bodies simply don’t need – or that may even be quite harmful! I encourage you to stick to as many foods in their whole form as possible. If you are buying packaged foods (which we all do sometimes, for fun, flavor, or convenience!) try to minimize the amount of added sugar, salt, and oils, in all their varying forms. Remember, what matters the most is what we do the most, so make the bulk of what you eat be just plain FOOD! Finding the place for packaged favorites among a mostly whole foods diet is something I help clients with all the time. (If you’d like to share your processed food battles and see if working together might be a good fit, go ahead and book a free 30 minute discovery call.)
- Focus on eating for HEALTH. We’re not torturing ourselves, here; we’re eating foods that will protect our health. Think about it as “crowding out” processed foods, not eliminating them. When we fill up on whole foods, focusing on eating a wide variety of whole plant foods every day, we have less room for the processed stuff. Try putting your veggies on your plate first, then your proteins and whole grains, then adding whatever else makes you happy! Think of using highly processed foods kind of how you’d use condiments in general – sparingly for flavor, not as the center of the meal.
Food has the power to help us fight chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, dementia, chronic inflammation, digestive disorders, hormone imbalances…. you name it! In addition, it offers us fuel for our long days and energy to tackle all our goals & dreams. Powerful stuff, huh?!
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