How to Stop Eating Junk Food: 10 Tips (2023)

Why is junk food so addictive?

It’s 3 p.m. and you’re experiencing that all-too-familiar afternoon slump. It brings on a fierce sugar (or salt or caffeine) craving. You’re not alone. Many people deal with cravings on a frequent, even daily basis.

Believe it or not, food manufacturers often create foods with the goal of igniting that cycle of addiction in consumers. They aim for the “bliss point” in a product. This is the point at which the eater experiences the ultimate pleasure, with not too much and not too little salty, sweet, and fatty flavors. These combinations are particularly hard to resist, and your brain reacts in a similar way as with cocaine and other drug addictions.

While succumbing to cravings may seem inevitable in the moment, there are a few simple things you can do to control them. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.

There’s no better way to handle cravings than planning your meals and snacks ahead of time. If you have a healthy meal and snacks packed and ready for you at lunchtime and in the afternoon, you’re far less likely to grab a leftover piece of pizza, order French fries, or eat the sweets someone brought in to the office.

In other words, you will reduce your “food cue reactivity.” This is what researchers call your susceptibility to being influenced by the food smells, advertisements, and conversations surrounding you every day.

Try to plan out each week’s meals on Sunday, or the day before your workweek starts. Go grocery shopping for what you need. Then prepare large batches of easy foods like brown rice, beans, stir-fried or roasted vegetables, or cold salads. Use food storage containers, mason jars, or foil to pack up serving sizes that you can grab in the morning on your way out the door. Fruits like apples, bananas, and oranges travel well and can be kept on your desk, making them easy afternoon snacks.

(Video) How To Stop Eating Junk Food 10 Tips To Control Your Cravings.

The perimeter of the grocery store typically includes the produce, dairy, meat, and fish sections. This is where you’ll find real foods, rather than highly processed food products. When you go shopping, try to purchase items only from these sections. If a food item has more than a few ingredients on the label (or ones you can’t pronounce), don’t buy it. This is a key step in transitioning your diet to whole foods.

Over time, your body and palate will get used to:

  • fresh vegetables
  • fruit
  • grains
  • proteins

You’ll be getting all the nutrients you need from these healthy foods, so your cravings for the fake stuff will start to diminish. It may take a few weeks, but eventually it won’t even taste good to you!

One of the most common nutrition myths is that fat makes you fat. In fact, your body needs fat! However, there are many different types of fat. You should avoid trans fats and limit saturated fats, but heart-healthy fats like nuts and avocado will help you feel full and reduce cravings.

Have a handful of mixed nuts as an afternoon snack. Or you can make a homemade salad dressing with olive oil and vinegar. Adding fresh guacamole or a fatty fish like salmon to your day is also a great way to incorporate healthy, filling fats.

Protein makes you feel full, often more so than other macronutrients like carbs. Fill your diet with healthy sources of protein including:

  • fish
  • beans
  • vegetables
  • nuts

When you’re full, there’s less room — and less desire — for junk food.

(Video) How To Stop Eating Junk Food | The 1 Thing I Did & How It Helped

Fruit has sugar, but it has a lot of vitamins, antioxidants, and water, too. It also contains fiber, which slows and balances out the effects on your blood sugar. This prevents the sugar crash. Once you wean yourself off of manufactured sugar, fruit will taste a lot sweeter and more satisfying to you. Grab a bowl of berries or a piece of watermelon if you’re craving something sweet.

Add some new and different foods to your routine. The more varied your diet, the less likely you will get bored or crave junk food. For example, add a new green to your salad (mustard greens, anyone?), or try a new type of fish this week like tuna.

(Video) Why we can't stop eating unhealthy foods

Bonus: Eating diverse foods of many colors boosts your overall health and helps with disease prevention, too. Examples include purple potatoes, red beets, orange carrots, and green kale.

A 2013 study showed that when people were trained to look at and interpret one of their most-craved junk foods in a negative light, desire for it lessened. Participants were asked to view the craved food as if:

  • they were already feeling very full
  • they just saw the food item sneezed on
  • they could save the item for later
  • they were told about negative consequences of eating the food (stomachache, weight gain)

Your mind is much more powerful than you might think. It can’t hurt to experiment!

A study in the journal Nutrients showed that focusing on the positive side of healthy eating is more effective than focusing on the need to remove junk food.

The more healthy foods you add in, the easier it will be to crowd out the unhealthy ones. Stay positive!

There’s almost always an emotional component behind cravings. Sure, you really need the brownie because you like the flavor. Or your blood sugar is low and you need an energy boost. You’re more likely to grab the Cheetos or leftover cookies when you’re upset or stressed by something.

Consider how you may be eating (or drinking) as a way to stuff feelings, distract yourself, or procrastinate. Try to be compassionate to yourself and do some gentle exploration. Practice redirecting yourself when you feel the urge to reach for food instead of doing what needs to be done, or saying what needs to be said.

Healthy stress management tools include:

  • taking a walk or run
  • yoga
  • meditating for a few minutes
  • taking some deep breaths
  • talking to a trusted friend or family member
  • doing something creative like painting
  • journaling

Experiment and find what works best for you. If your stress feels overwhelming, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. They can offer emotional support and suggest other effective, healthy, non-food coping methods.

(Video) 13 Easy Ways To Control Food Cravings To Lose Fat Faster

Most people don’t get nearly enough sleep. And while you’re probably aware of the effects on your mood or energy level, you may not know that lack of sleep is also thought to play a big role in junk food cravings. A recent study in Sleep showed that sleep restriction resulted in more hunger and less ability to control intake of “palatable snacks.”

So make the effort to turn in a little bit earlier every night. You might also want to stop eating a few hours before you intend to go to bed. A full stomach can cause indigestion and interfere with your ability to fall or stay asleep.

Although our brains are wired to eat a variety of foods, junk food may reduce this desire. This can trap you in a vicious cycle of unhealthy eating. The more you eat junk food, the more you crave it. By following the simple steps, you can break the cycle today and lead a healthier life.

(Video) Nutritionist's Tips To STOP Eating Junk Food


How to Stop Eating Junk Food: 10 Tips? ›

Dopamine is our motivation hormone; it instructs the brain to repeat a rewarding behaviour. The perfect combination sugar, salt, fat, and artificial flavourings and sweeteners in ultra-processed food leads to large dopamine spikes in the brain, making you want to continue eating them.

How do I force myself to stop eating junk food? ›

Six Ways to Eliminate Junk Food in Your Diet
  1. Eat Regular Meals so You Do Not Get Too hungry. ...
  2. Drink Water First and Eliminate Sugar Sweetened Beverages. ...
  3. Consume Snacks that are Nutritious and Low in Calories. ...
  4. Understand Your Stressors. ...
  5. Get Plenty of Sleep. ...
  6. Keep a Smile on Your Face and Realize the Downside of Marketing.

Why can't I stop eating junk? ›

Dopamine is our motivation hormone; it instructs the brain to repeat a rewarding behaviour. The perfect combination sugar, salt, fat, and artificial flavourings and sweeteners in ultra-processed food leads to large dopamine spikes in the brain, making you want to continue eating them.

What are 3 reasons to stop eating junk food? ›

Eating junk food on a regular basis can lead to an increased risk of obesity and chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and some cancers.

Why am I eating so much? ›

Aside from diabetes, chronic stress, and sleep deprivation (mentioned above), other health conditions can cause an increased appetite, as well. Hormone conditions, thyroid conditions like hyperthyroidism, genetic conditions, and even growth-hormone secreting tumors can all cause an increased appetite.

What junk food does to your brain? ›

Two recent large-scale studies suggest that eating ultra-processed foods may exacerbate age-related cognitive decline and increase the risk of developing dementia. In contrast, another recent study reported that ultra-processed food consumption was not associated with worse cognition in people over 60.

How long does junk food stay in your system? ›

The unhealthy fat which we eat followed by no physical activity gets stored in our body leading to weight gain which results in obesity. Junk food can adversely affect your metabolism: Our metabolism becomes so weak that after 5 days it takes time of 2-3 days for our body to function normally as before.

Is it OK to avoid junk food completely? ›

The combination of fat and sugar make junk foods addicting and easy to overconsume. Still, completely avoiding them may not be beneficial. Enjoying your favorite treat on occasion is a more healthful and sustainable approach for most people. If you're worried about trigger foods, talk to a healthcare professional.

How long does it take for your body to detox from junk food? ›

According to Moss, it only takes about six weeks of healthy eating to ditch your dependency on junk food, especially salt.

What can I eat instead of junk food? ›

18 Healthy Foods to Eat When Cravings Strike
  • Many people get the urge to eat unhealthy foods, especially when they're on a diet. ...
  • Fresh Fruit. ...
  • Greek Yogurt. ...
  • A Hot Drink. ...
  • Snack Bar. ...
  • Dark Chocolate. ...
  • Fruit and Nut Butter. ...
  • Cottage Cheese.
Mar 13, 2017

What should I eat if I crave junk food? ›

Healthier Snacks to Satisfy Junk Food Cravings
  • Nuts. Thanks to their pleasing combo of saltiness and crunch, nuts calm your cravings for other salty snacks. ...
  • Dried Fruit. Skip the candy and choose chewy, sweet dried fruit when you need a sugar fix. ...
  • Roasted Chickpeas. ...
  • Hummus.
Dec 28, 2021

Why am I so obsessed with junk food? ›

Eating junk food causes a release of dopamine in the brain. This reward encourages susceptible individuals to eat more unhealthy foods.

Should I eat if I'm hungry? ›

Some people skip meals when they're trying to lose weight, which is often counterproductive, as waiting too long between meals may lead to overeating. As such, it's important to eat when you're hungry — not wait until you're ravenous.

How to lose appetite? ›

5 Best Ways to Control Your Hunger
  1. Use protein as a hunger-buster. ...
  2. Fill yourself up with watery, high-fiber foods. ...
  3. Exercise can help control hunger. ...
  4. Drink fluids to help you feel less hungry. ...
  5. Eating small, frequent meals can help curb your appetite.
Oct 4, 2021

Why do I eat everyday? ›

A food is something that provides nutrients. Nutrients are substances that provide: energy for activity, growth, and all functions of the body such as breathing, digesting food, and keeping warm; materials for the growth and repair of the body, and for keeping the immune system healthy.

What vitamins stop food cravings? ›

Overall, B vitamins are regarded as essential supplements to curb sugar cravings. Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in your metabolism and energy, as well as the digestion of your food. It regulates the production of insulin. A zinc deficiency may result in sugar cravings and an increased appetite.

What happens if I don't eat junk food for a month? ›

Cutting back on junk food means you'll be receiving less amounts of fat, sugar and calories, which will naturally lead to weight loss. You'll feel more energetic. Receiving more calories from junk food doesn't mean you're obtaining enough nutritional substance.

How do I stop eating junk food at night? ›

These 5 tips help you recognize and curb mindless eating.
  1. Prioritize healthy habits. You may be overeating at night because your body is compensating for something it needs. ...
  2. Find ways to manage your emotions. ...
  3. Pre-portion snack food. ...
  4. Eat enough protein. ...
  5. Drink a glass of water.
Mar 2, 2022

Can you train your brain to hate junk food? ›

Cutting out junk food may seem like the most difficult thing, but with practice comes perfection. It is about mindset and cheating your brain into believing another pattern of thought. Just be sure of your own will, and you will be able to convert to healthy eating.

What food can cause anxiety? ›

Foods (and drinks) that are stress- and anxiety-provoking

Caffeine. Sugary drinks and foods. Processed foods, such as chips, cookies, frozen foods and ready-made meals. Foods high in trans fats and excessive saturated fats, such as fried foods, red meat, full-fat dairy, butter and baked goods.

How do you remove junk from your brain? ›

  1. Eliminate unnecessary thoughts. Identify thoughts that are not essential. ...
  2. Challenge negative thought patterns. If you find your mind ruminating, obsessing, and catastrophizing, commit to taking positive action. ...
  3. Spend time meditating. ...
  4. Leverage the power of habits. ...
  5. Fill your mind with thoughts of gratitude.
Jun 25, 2020

What is the healthiest single food? ›

Lemons. Lemons have been widely regarded in the health industry as the world's healthiest food. The sour fruit is an alkalising powerfood; they have strong anti-inflammatory qualities and can even help to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

What are the 5 foods to never eat? ›

As a nutritional psychiatrist, I always try to avoid these five types of foods that can make you tired and stressed:
  • Processed foods. ...
  • Industrial seed oils. ...
  • Added and refined sugars. ...
  • Fried foods. ...
  • Artificial sweeteners.
May 14, 2022

What foods should I never eat? ›

Foods high in salt (sodium), such as some canned foods, processed meats (e.g., lunch meats, sausages, hot dogs, ham), and frozen dinners should be avoided. Some snack foods and store-bought packaged toddler foods are high in salt. Check the Nutrition Facts Label to find foods with less salt.

Can I flush out junk food with water? ›

Water will help flush out toxins, aid digestion, and fight gas-induced bloating.

Can I reverse years of bad eating? ›

It's never too late to change

For the most part, many complications and health risk experienced from poor food choices, physical inactivity and too much stress can be quickly and effectively improved by changes in lifestyle habits.

Is pizza a junk food? ›

Pizza is not only delicious but can also be a healthy meal choice when thought is put into its preparation. Though many frozen and fast-food varieties tend to be high in calories, fat, sodium and other unhealthy ingredients, pizza can be made healthier.

Is ice cream a junk food? ›

Smith's Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food, junk food is defined as "those commercial products, including candy, bakery goods, ice cream, salty snacks and soft drinks, which have little or no nutritional value but do have plenty of calories, salt, and fats.

How much is too much junk food? ›

Remember that junk foods are okay to eat occasionally, but they should not make up more than 10% of your daily energy intake. In a day, this may be a simple treat such as a small muffin or a few squares of chocolate. On a weekly basis, this might mean no more than two fast-food meals per week.

Is it better to eat nothing or junk food? ›

The better thing to do is eat something than to fast for a little while. Even if that something isn't the healthiest option.” On the other hand, eating poorly often results in health damage. “Long term, for repeatedly eating stupidly over months and years, is decreased health,” Brown said.

How can I cleanse my system fast? ›

How To Detox Your Body
  1. Add Probiotics To Your Diet.
  2. Cut Processed Foods Out Of Your Diet.
  3. Fast regularly.
  4. Drink plenty of water.
  5. Get quality sleep.
  6. Sweat regularly.
  7. Hydrotherapy.
  8. Minimize environmental exposures.
May 21, 2023

What happens when you suddenly stop eating? ›

During the first 24 hours without food, as your glucose storage is depleted, your body will begin to convert glycogen from your liver and muscles into glucose. By the second day without food, your glucose and glycogen are depleted. Your body will begin to break down muscle tissue to provide energy.

What happens to your body when you stop eating junk food for a week? ›

"You may feel more energized, more focused, a better mood, maintain a healthy weight, even sleep better." Also good: Feeling immediately better will help motivate you to continue making healthy food choices in the future.

How long does it take to stop craving junk food? ›


According to Moss, it only takes about six weeks of healthy eating to ditch your dependency on junk food, especially salt.

Will I lose weight if I stop eating junk food? ›

Cutting back on junk food means you'll be receiving less amounts of fat, sugar and calories, which will naturally lead to weight loss. You'll feel more energetic. Receiving more calories from junk food doesn't mean you're obtaining enough nutritional substance.

What is it called when you can't stop eating junk food? ›

Binge eating disorder involves regularly eating a lot of food over a short period of time until you're uncomfortably full. Binges are often planned in advance, usually done alone, and may include "special" binge foods. You may feel guilty or ashamed after binge eating.

What can I replace junk food with? ›

Healthy Alternatives to Junk Food
  • Fresh Juice. ...
  • Dried Fruits. ...
  • Homemade Smoothies. ...
  • Sugar-Free Lemonade. ...
  • Dark Chocolate. ...
  • Healthy Granola. ...
  • Fibre-Rich Oatmeal. ...
  • Sugar-Free Sorbet.

What's the healthiest junk food? ›

These are the ideal junk food you should consider:
  • Oatmeal Cookies. ...
  • Cheese. ...
  • Popcorn. ...
  • Sweet Potato Chips. ...
  • Granola Bar. ...
  • Yogurt Pop. ...
  • Tortilla Chips. It's not just easy to prepare; it is also delicious and healthy for consumption. ...
  • Salsa. Vegetables are salsa's primary component, making it a healthy combination with chips.
Jun 23, 2022

What 10 days of clean eating actually does to your body? ›

After 10 days you will have reduced your stress levels, helping to lower the risk of slipping into depression. “As soon as you begin working out, blood flow to your brain will increase, helping your brain cells to function more efficiently. It's common to feel more alert during exercise and more focused afterwards.”

What are the symptoms of detoxing from junk food? ›

Anxiety, headaches, irritability and depression are some of those outcomes. Understanding whether withdrawal may also occur with highly processed foods was an essential next step in evaluating whether these foods might be capable of triggering similar addictive processes.


1. What Happens to Your Body When You Only Eat Junk Food Every Day
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3. REDUCE YOUR SUGAR INTAKE: 10 tips that helped me cut sugar effectively
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(Erin May Henry)
5. What Happens if You Stop Eating Fast Food for 7 Days
(Dr. Eric Berg DC)
6. How to Stop Eating Junk Food? | 4 Easy Tips
(Sheila Viers)


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