Page Description: Do you crave chocolate or ice cream like your life depends on it? It’s understandable. Junks are sweet but their effect on our health is harmful. Junk addiction works like food addiction. People know of its effect on our health but sometimes can’t help themselves. If you are part of the people looking for ways to curb their junk addiction, then this is for you. The article highlights the causes and symptoms of junk food addiction, and how to counter it.
What is junk food addiction?
Junk food addiction refers to the constant urge to eat foods that are very rich in sugar but lack nutritional value. Not that they don’t contain protein, fiber, or other nutrients, but they do so in little insignificant quantities that are not beneficial to human health. Examples of junk foods include cakes, chocolates, sweets, biscuits, bacon, chips, doughnuts, soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, hot chips, pizzas, meat pies, cereals, fried foods, cheese sticks, sandwiches, and soda.
We can’t completely blame people who are addicted to junk food. These foods are sweet and flavored with fatty flavors that’ll make you want some more. Junk foods have the same effect on the brain as drug addiction. They give a pleasurable sensation that the brain is unable to resist. Most junk foods have high calories and are part of the major causes of weight gain. Junk foods also contribute to the development of other diseases like arthritis, stroke, diabetes, headaches, lethargy, depression, sleeping disorders, and heart diseases.
Symptoms of junk food addiction
- Overeating: Eating more junk than is required is a major symptom of junk food. You can see someone eating cookies, drinking carbonated drinks, or taking ice cream more than once a day. For some, no day goes by without them taking their favorite junk. That’s part of addiction.
- Frequent cravings on a full stomach: craving for more food after you are full from eating healthy food is another sign of junk food addiction. This is because when you are full from eating healthy food and you still crave to eat something, the next option you’ll hop on is junk food.
- Craving sweet foods when you are hungry: Craving sweet food instead of eating healthy nutritious food when you are hungry is a sign that you are becoming addicted to junk food which is unhealthy for your well-being.
- Eating junk even when you are obese. This is an obvious symptom of junk food addiction. When someone is overweight and still eating sugary and fatty food instead of healthy food, it becomes obvious that all is not well with the person.
- Hiding to eat. Most people who are addicted to junk foods sometimes hide to eat. This is because they don’t want people to know what’s going on with them.
- Feeling guilty after eating. People who get addicted to junk food feel guilty after eating their time, and that’s because they know they shouldn’t be eating them, but they can’t help it.
4 reasons why people get addicted to junk food
1. It is too sweet: Have you ever tasted something for the first time and it tastes good? “Yes.” What did you do after that? “Order for some more or go back from time to time to get it.” This scenario happens to most of us often. Once we taste something sweet, we always go back for more. So you can blame people addicted to junk food. They just couldn’t control their appetite and cravings.
2. Emotional eating: Some people eat to distract themselves from negative emotions like heartbreak, depression, and anxiety. While some others eat to reward themselves when they are happy and excited. We can’t avoid our emotions, they come often and that puts the person at risk of getting addicted to junk food.
3. Secrets more dopamine: Biologically, the more something triggers the release of dopamine (a pleasure hormone), the more the person wants more of it. Junk food triggers the secretion of dopamine, and that makes the brain and the body want more of it.
4. Habit: A habit is a behavior that becomes part of a person after consistent practice. It’s normal for people to crave things, but when you satisfy your cravings to the point where it becomes a habit, it turns into an addiction. So, people who have the habit of always eating junk food, get addicted to them.
Ways to counter junk food addiction
1. Work on your mind
The place of mindset in whatever we do cannot be overemphasized. Before you can successfully start or stop something, you have to give your mind a reason to cooperate with you. In this case, tell and convince yourself of the negative things that await you if you don’t counter the addiction, and what you stand to enjoy if you counter it. This might sound weird to you, but it’s the first step to take.
Once your mind/subconscious is convinced about dropping junk food addiction, you’ll notice that your brain and body are cooperating with you. This does not mean that you’d stop eating junk food at once, but it’ll go a long way in helping you; your body will develop a defense mechanism against junk foods.
2. Be intentional
Nothing beats intentionality. Until you are intentional about countering junk food addiction, you’ll keep being addicted to them. Intentionality brings about a conscious effort to counter addiction. Such efforts include avoiding fast foods and eating homemade foods.
3. Identify the food that stimulates it.
Identifying the underlying factors that trigger your cravings is a great way to counter junk food addiction. The causatives could be stress, anxiety, anger, fear, excitement, enthusiasm, and happiness, amongst others. Once you can identify them, countering them becomes easy. Once you notice that you are in the mood that triggers the cravings, you immediately engage yourself in distracting activities.
4. Alternate with healthy distractions
Instead of eating, other activities like taking a walk, exercising, seeing your favorite movie, hanging out with friends, dancing, painting, and reading interesting novels are all part of distracting activities you can engage in. These are just a few distracting activities you can add to the list.
5. Eat a balanced diet
Balanced diets are diets that contain the six classes of food in the right proportion. Even if one meal can’t make for a balanced diet, your entire meal for the day should be balanced. A good way to go about implementing this point is by creating a dietary plan.
6. Join support groups
Support groups help to provide emotional support. Addiction is addiction irrespective of its type. Hence, countering junk food addiction can cause some emotional and psychological setbacks. Support groups play an important role in ensuring that you don’t get through the withdrawal phase alone. You also get guidance, suggestions, and helpful strategies to help you counter the symptoms of withdrawal.
7. Avoid keeping junk around the house
One of the best things you can do for yourself as someone trying to break free of addiction is to keep the substance far from you. In this case, junk food is the substance. So, to avoid temptation and help yourself, avoid stocking the fridge with junk foods.
8. Seek professional help
While you can counter junk food addiction on your own, it does not always work that way. Seeking the help of a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist who has experience treating people with junk food addiction is also helpful. They’ll provide you with one-on-one support and recommend practical solutions to help you.
9. Sleep more
Some studies show that there’s a relationship between sleep and food addiction. The less amount of sleep you have, the more prone you are to junk food addiction. So, sleeping more can help during the withdrawal period.
10. Stress management
Most people turn to food as a coping mechanism for stress. However, that’s dangerous because it puts the person at risk of developing junk addiction. The best way to handle this is to look for other ways to manage stress. Sleeping, walking, seeing a movie, exercising, and talking to someone you love, amongst others, are ways to help cope with stress management.
11. Be soft on yourself
Don’t push yourself too hard, it’s not easy to stop addiction. So, give yourself kudos for every milestone achieved. You can reward yourself with material gifts or other goodies that will not tempt you. Also, consistency isn’t an everyday thing. When you miss a day or two of abstinence from junk, don’t beat yourself up. Just try your best not to skip more days.
Countering junk food is not easy just as it is with countering other forms of addiction. The withdrawal phase is a phase for anyone who cares about his or her well-being must pass through. No one says it’s going to be an easy journey. No matter how tough the going gets, don’t give up. Whenever you feel like giving up, remind yourself of all you stand to gain when everything is over and you are back to being yourself. It’ll keep you motivated, and help you get through the process.
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