Overcome Addiction to Junk Foods

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Anonymous, Jonathan, Lynn and 3 others

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Eating snacks during a football game or a movie is considered normal junk food consumption. That bag of delicious chips paired with the perfect dip, topped off with a thirst quenching soda sounds like the perfect combo for these scenarios. However, where can one draw the line between healthy or normal junk food consumption and junk food addiction? This article focuses on identifying junk foods, determining the different signs of junk food addiction and how to overcome addiction to junk foods.

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Ingesting snacks like chips, pizza, French fries, donuts and such has become a regular part of life for a lot of individuals. Experts are firm believers in the saying "Everything is good in moderation". Eating a slice of pizza or some ice cream once in a while is okay; however, when this is done regularly and when combined with other junk foods, it can be a problem.

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There are different reasons why individuals become addicted to junk foods. How many times have you heard about someone being so addicted to chocolate that they are called a "Chocoholic"? It might not just be a coined word after all. Recent studies have allowed experts to identify that some foods can indeed result in a cruel cycle of addiction. If it is any consolation, experts are also researching how junk food works on the human body. Some results are suggesting junk food addiction is comparable to cocaine. Individuals are not addicted to junk foods because they are weak; most of the time it is caused by the demand of the neurologic system.

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Ten Most Addictive Junk Foods and Alternatives

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  1. 1
    White Bread:
    Who would have thought that tasty treat you get in restaurants before every meal was junk? White bread has been stripped of its nutrients; these include the bran and germ among others. Desperately thinking how you can enjoy your favorite sandwich without white bread? Worry not, because you can still get your daily dose of bread by simply opting for whole grain bread instead.
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  2. 2
    Donuts:
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    Do not pretend to be surprised with this one because there's a reason why there is a stereotype for cops with huge tummies. Donuts are filled with sugar, which is very addictive. There have been tests made on rats who consumed large amounts of sugar. The test subjects were found to have increased dopamine production, which is associated with drug addiction. The real reason you are reaching for sweet food like donuts is because you are actually addicted to the release of dopamine into your brain. It's your body's natural way to reward you for consuming enough calories, but in excess, it becomes a food addiction. In nature access to so much calorie dense food is not possible on a consistent basis.
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  3. 3
    Pasta:
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    No, you do not have to clear Spaghetti Tuesdays from your calendar to get rid of this starchy memory lane favorite. This is a part of the junk food list because of the way it is prepared combined with butter, salt and cheese. You can enjoy Spaghetti Tuesdays by opting for high end pastas, cooked al dente to decrease the glycemic content, and combined with olive oil instead to increase nutritional value. Last but not least, stick to eating pasta in moderation.
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  4. 4
    Cake:
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    There is definitely something about cake, especially the frosting, that drives people crazy for it. Cake is made with great amounts of sugar, which is one of the leading causes of lifestyle related diseases like diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome.
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  5. 5
    Chips:
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    The notorious junk food high in fat and sodium is a favorite sandwich and soda partner. Even the veggie kinds of chips are found to be high in fat and sodium. For your crunchy cravings, instead of buying one from the bag, bake kale chips and add a dash of sea salt instead.
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  6. 6
    Cookies:
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    Ever wonder why the cookie jar is never full? Cookies are lethally addictive - just imagine having sugar and chocolate in the same treat! Research shows that simply seeing this addictive junk food releases dopamine; how much more when the addictive food is ingested? Bake natural oatmeal cookies instead.
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  7. 7
    Chocolate:
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    There have been studies showing that the responses chocolate addicts have towards chocolate are comparable to the responses of drug addicts to drugs. Most commercial chocolates today are combined with other junk that is very unhealthy for the body, including milk solids, sugar, fat and oil. Getting a sudden craving for chocolate? Go for dark chocolate with high levels of cocoa for maximum health benefits.
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  8. 8
    French Fries:
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    Who doesn't love a fry every once in a while? However, when ingested regularly, it can be a junk food nightmare. It has the trifecta - salty, fatty and with natural sugars the commercial fries also contain carcinogen acrylamide. A healthy way of enjoying French fries is by soaking them in water and baking instead of frying.
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  9. 9
    Candy:
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    Studies have shown that what mothers are eating while a child is in utero, as well as during childhood years contribute to an individual's food addiction. Feeding children candy and sugary treats regularly puts them at risk for acquiring an addiction for junk food. With that said, it is never too early to start eating right.
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  10. 10
    Ice Cream:
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    Yes, this is one of the most highly addictive junk foods out there. Why not? It is the go-to treat after a break up, during a celebration, or even with post dinner chatter. Eating ice cream, again, is okay as long as it is done in moderation. Over eating ice cream affects the appeal of other healthy food products which results in eating more ice cream.
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Signs and Symptoms of Junk Food Addiction

  1. 1
    Craving Junk Food Even When Full:
    Imagine eating a full meal of steak and potatoes for dinner while still craving for something sweet like ice cream or cake. Craving for junk food and hunger are not the same. Most people have cravings - this is normal - however if this happens regularly it can be a sign of food addiction.
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  2. 2
    Eating More Than Intended:
    There is not really any harm when junk food is eaten in moderation, as mentioned above. However, there are some individuals who crave chocolate cake, and instead of eating a slice, they end up eating all eight portions. This can be a sign of addiction.
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  3. 3
    Eating Until Overly Full:
    When you get a craving and you give in, one piece is enough. However, when you go for another and another, even after you are already very full, this can be a sign of food addiction.
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  4. 4
    Guilty Post Binge:
    Feeling guilty after doing something means one knows the act is not right. This is good since at least you know something is wrong and personally you acknowledge it. However, when you do it again, despite the guilty feeling you had, this can also be a sign of food addiction.
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  5. 5
    Making Excuses:
    Some people enjoy eating the food they crave at least once a week in moderation. There are days called "Cheat Saturdays" or "Cheat Sundays"; however, when it is the middle of the week and you find you want to eat something sweet there is a battle in your head. If you give in and make an excuse as to why you deserve eating that sweet treat, even if you are not hungry or have just eaten, this is another sign of food addiction.
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  6. 6
    Continuously Failing Personal Rules:
    There are individuals who set dietary rules for themselves, like only eating junk food during parties, on the weekends or once a week. However, if you continuously break these personal rules, this can be a sign of food addiction.
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  7. 7
    Feeling Ashamed and Hiding Eating:
    Most people know that their food addiction is wrong; however, they may not always acknowledge it. Instead they feed their addiction by eating junk food when nobody is around. This is a definite sign of junk food addiction.
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  8. 8
    Cannot Quit Despite Health Problems:
    Another definite sign of junk food addiction is continuously eating junk food that is bad for you despite acquiring health problems. Among the many diseases and illnesses that can be gotten from regular junk food consumption are obesity, Type II Diabetes, heart diseases, Alzheimer's as well as certain types of cancer.
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Overcome Junk Food Addiction

  1. 1
    Acknowledgement - A problem can never be solved if it is not acknowledged.
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    1. Accept that you have a problem with junk food addiction and it needs to be treated.
    2. Accept that you need to change your eating habits.
    3. Accept that you have other problems caused by junk food addiction.
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  2. 2
    Investigation – Get to the bottom of what is causing your problems.
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    1. Save the receipts when purchasing junk foods. Choose using your debit card when purchasing to easily keep track of your junk food expenses.
    2. Start counting calories of all the junk foods that you have been consuming.
    3. Identify which food products you continuously crave.
    4. Determine how often you crave these food products.
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  3. 3
    Strategy – After acknowledging and investigating, it is time to make a plan.
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    1. Consider how you will cope without your junk food items.
    2. Find alternative food products to replace your unhealthy junk food.
    3. Always check what you eat; almost always there is a healthy option for the food you are craving for.
    4. Be prepared for the physical changes of junk food withdrawal, like headaches, feeling tired, etc. Do not worry; this will only last for a couple of days.
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  4. 4
    Elimination – Not all junk food has healthy alternatives.
    This is why there is always a need to eliminate.
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    1. Remove soda beverages from your diet.
    2. Say goodbye to salty chips in a bag.
    3. If you cannot completely get rid of food cravings, enjoy a piece or a slice once in a while to satisfy the craving.
    4. Steer clear of all you can eat buffets, as you are faced with too much temptation.
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Tips, Tricks and Warnings

  • Find out the exact amount of money you have been allocating for junk foods in the past year. Having a figure can take you back to reality and can be a form of motivation for you to cut back.
  • Avoid temptation by informing your friends and the people around you that you are staying away from junk food. This way, they will know better than to invite you or offer something unhealthy.
  • Take off one junk food at a time. Getting rid of an entire lifestyle at one point can be very difficult, not to mention dangerous. Identify which junk food you are craving the most and start from there.
  • Check out supplements that can help stop junk food craving. These include chromium alpha lipoic acid, American ginseng, alginate and medicinal mushrooms. Studies have shown these supplements assist in balancing out glucose. These also reduce inflammation and other symptoms of junk food addiction.
  • Increase oral fluid intake because dehydration increases cravings for sweets and junk food drastically.
  • When a healthy diet is maintained, better nutrition is acquired. This results in balanced blood sugar and many more health benefits. There will be decreased junk food cravings resulting in overall health and vitality. Increased energy is also noted.
  • Carry healthy snacks like fruits or carrot sticks with you so when you feel the cravings or start to feel hungry, you do not have to be tempted by entering a store.

The world today has become more aware of these unhealthy foods and is going back to greener ways. This can be observed with the increased demand of veggie meals, vegan establishments, fresh produce, tea shops, as well as establishments selling organic products. With that said, it becomes easier for individuals to start living a healthy lifestyle. Overcome addiction to junk foods by getting to know what junk foods are, identifying junk food addiction symptoms and finding ways to treat the problem.

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Categories : Health & Wellness

Recent edits by: Robbi, Eng, Lynn

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