How to Stop Eating Junk Food

Three Methods:Changing Your EnvironmentChanging Your Eating HabitsChanging Other Habits

Junk foods like potato chips, candy, cookies, and soda may make you feel momentarily happy, but they are not so good for your health. Kicking the junk food habit is easier said than done for many people, but there are some steps that will move you along the path to better eating habits.

Method 1
Changing Your Environment

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    Stop buying junk food. Keeping junk food around when you are trying to avoid it is a recipe for failure. If you have lots of junk food on hand, you will be much more likely to eat it. Stop buying junk food and keep it out of your house, car, and office.[1]
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    Buy healthy food only. Buy whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, milk, eggs, and whole grains.
    • Selecting foods on the outer ring of the grocery store or foods with five ingredients or less is an easy way to make sure that you are making healthy choices.[2]
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    Keep plenty of healthy snacks on hand. The more healthy food that is readily available for you to choose from, the easier it will be for you to keep yourself from chowing down on junk.
    • Keep granola bars, fresh fruit, almonds, and low-fat yogurt in your refrigerator and always stash a couple of snacks in your car or purse.[3]
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    Keep healthy convenience foods on hand. Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables. Stock your pantry with canned beans, tomatoes, whole grain pasta, brown rice, and other healthy staples so that you can easily throw together a pasta primavera or pot of rice and beans. Cooking dinner at home will save you money and it will take about the same amount of time as going through a drive through.[4]

Method 2
Changing Your Eating Habits

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    Avoid snacking in settings that cause you to make bad choices. Some environments have been shown to increase your likelihood for turning to junk food.
    • For example, if you know that you are more likely to turn to junk food while watching television, have your snack in the kitchen instead.[5]
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    Eat plenty of healthy food early in the day. The more healthy food you eat early on in the day, the less chance you will binge on junk food later on in the day when your willpower is lower. Start your day with a big healthy breakfast, have a healthy snack like fruit and yogurt mid-morning, and eat a healthy, hearty lunch.[6]
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    Chew sugar-free mint gum when you get a craving for junk food. Chewing on a piece of mint gum will distract you from your craving. As an added bonus, chewing a piece of mint gum will also make anything that you eat after chewing the gum taste kind of weird, so you will be less likely to continue eating it.[7]
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    Vary your food choices. Having plenty of variety in your diet will help to keep you satisfied so that you will be less likely to seek out junk food.
    • Pair crunchy items like carrots with something creamy like hummus or peanut butter to add variety into your snacks.[8]
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    Drink plenty of water. Water helps you to feel full and helps balance your blood sugar. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself from reaching for junk food. Staying hydrated with water will also make you less likely to reach for a can of soda or some other type of unhealthy sugary beverage.[9]
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    Buy a cookbook with easy healthy recipes. Knowing how to cook healthy food that you actually want to eat will help keep you from turning to junk food at meal times. If you are new to healthy cooking, buy yourself a cookbook with easy to follow, appetizing healthy recipes.[10]

Method 3
Changing Other Habits

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    Distract yourself when a craving hits. Developing other ways to deal with your junk food cravings is also important to kicking your habit. Go for a walk, play with your pet, call a friend, or work on a creative project. Cravings will usually go away if you distract yourself for about 20-30 minutes.[11]
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    Analyze your desire for junk food when cravings strike. Take a moment to ask why you are craving a specific food. Are you actually hungry or are you bored? Other emotions can make you want to reach for junk food as well. Examine how you are feeling and talk to someone or write about how you are feeling to deal with your emotions rather than burying them in food.[12]
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    Treat yourself on special occasions. Just because you want to stop eating junk food, does not mean that you won’t be placed in situations where you may want to allow yourself to indulge. If you attend a wedding or birthday party, let yourself have a piece of cake. It’s okay to give yourself a treat now and then!
    • You might even consider designating one day of each week as a “cheat day” so that you can eat some of your favorite foods on that day. Just make sure that you don’t overdo it or you may not feel so great the next day.[13]
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    Practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques. Many people reach for potato chips or candy bars when they are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed. If you tend to turn to junk food when you are feeling stressed, figure out some alternatives that you can use to help yourself relax. Deep breathing exercises and yoga are great ways to relax. [14]

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