When looking to make improvements to your health what you eat does make a difference. And working to change how you eat means removing factory processed foods and junk foods from your diet. But even after giving your diet a makeover you may still struggle to overcome junk food cravings. These foods contain little nutritional value, are filled with refined sugar, white flour, and additives that are detrimental to the body. The biggest downfall however is that these “foods” cause people to become addicted to them.
But it may be more than meets the eye. There may be underlying dysfunction happening in your body that may be contributing to your cravings. Here are some things you can do that may help you overcome them.
Check your metabolic type
Every person requires a different balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. But if you are eating the wrong balance of macronutrients for your body, you could wind up struggling with cravings for foods that aren’t so good for you. And giving in to the cravings regularly can derail any progress you’ve made on the road to getting healthy. Discovering your metabolic type and eating the right balance of foods for your body can help you to feel more satiated and keep you from reaching for junk foods.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep
In studies, sleep deprivation has been shown to reduce the activity of important areas of the brain that guide complex decision-making. while increasing the areas of the brain that control desire and motivation. This leads to cravings for junk food and reduces cravings for healthier options. Be sure your clients are getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep nightly, and this will help to prevent cravings caused by sleep deprivation.
Make stress management a priority
When people face stress, their bodies release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. When cortisol levels are elevated, appetite is increased. So, for many who deal with chronic stress, appetite levels may stay increased. This causes overall calorie consumption to increase as well. In times of stress, people tend to crave foods that are high in fat and high in sugar. Making sure you are managing stress daily through exercise, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can help to reduce stress-related junk food cravings.
Make sure you eat meals regularly
It can be tempting for you to skip a meal to get more done. But it is important that you eat meals regularly throughout the day. If you don’t, you might be tempted to indulge in fast foods and convenient junk foods. If you allow yourself to get too hungry, reaching for junk food snacks to tide you over until the next meal can become very tempting. But you can counteract this by planning ahead and eating regular, healthy meals throughout the day. You can also keep healthy snack options close by in case they do find yourself unexpectedly getting hungry before mealtime! A small, healthy snack can keep you on track and subdue your hunger.
Don’t go to the grocery store hungry
If you are experiencing cravings, a grocery store is the worst place to be. This is because you then have access to a large variety of foods…including foods that are better left in the store! And grocery stores typically put the least healthy foods at eye level. This makes them much more tempting, and easy to add to your shopping cart. It is not uncommon to bring home more junk food after shopping while hungry than you would when shopping after eating. Therefore, it is best to plan grocery shopping trips after eating a satisfying meal to help you resist junk food temptation.
Check your emotions
Many people eat in response to specific emotions, even though they may be unaware that they are doing it. Certain foods can act as a form of comfort when you are feeling sad, lonely, or bored. In response to these emotions, it is not uncommon to eat junk food mindlessly. And you may not realize how much is being eaten. When emotions come up, it is better for you to distract yourself with other healthier activities, instead of reaching for junk food. Call a friend, go for a walk, enjoy a hobby, do some yoga, or read a book. Any of these options are much healthier than resorting to junk food to fill the emotional void. And ultimately, choosing a healthier option will help you feel better about yourself in the long run!
Get tested to see if there is HPA axis dysfunction
One common test that FDNThrive coaches run for clients gives clues as to the state of the HPA axis function. The HPA axis is the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands. This test looks at cortisol, DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, melatonin, estradiol, and estriol levels. If tests show that the levels of these hormones are out of balance it can indicate that the HPA axis is not functioning properly. If the HPA axis is in a state of dysfunction and cortisol levels are high, then it can throw blood sugar levels out of balance. When that happens, it is common for people to experience intense cravings for sugary, highly processed carbohydrates. If you are in perimenopause or menopause and experience lower estrogen and progesterone levels, it can also cause increased cravings for sugary snacks.
The good news is that testing can show you which areas need the most supportive care. And with proper dietary and holistic support, HPA axis function can be normalized, and hormones can be brought into balance. This in turn can reduce overall stress levels and reduce cravings.
Don’t beat yourself up!
Junk food cravings do not need to run your life or derail the progress you’ve already made. You can combat them easily by following any of these healthy tips. If you do slip and have a day where you reach for junk food, don’t beat yourself up over the slip. Mentally punishing yourself for the slip will create additional stress in your body. That can quickly become chronic and cause more problems than when you slipped. Just begin again making healthier choices with the next meal. That will help get you back on track and on the road towards optimal health!
If you are interested in working with an FDNThrive coach who can get you the right testing and get you back on track more quickly, contact us for more information!