Junk food can sometimes equal comfort food — foods that we turn to in moments of stress or depression. Had a bad day? Chips will make you feel better. Stressed about a work deadline? Chocolate doesn’t have a deadline; go ahead and have a piece… or five.
Whatever it does for you, junk food is an unhealthy lifestyle choice that will take its toll on your health over time. As parents, we want to make the best choices for ourselves, so we make better choices for our kids, and then they make better choices for themselves in the future. It’s a process and won’t always be easy, but it gets easier and becomes your go-to, natural choice sooner than you’d think.
Here at The Natural Patch Co., our goal is to live healthy, all-natural lives so we can set the best examples possible for our children. We’ve put together this list of ways to help you kick junk food to the curb and cozy up with Mother Nature in the process.
Define Junk Food
Junk food is a broad term for all processed foods, high in sugar and empty calories. If you read the labels, your favorite salty snack might seem like fewer calories than, say, a bag of nuts.
But, you will get protein and other nutrients from those cashews that junk food can’t provide. Of course, you could eat the entire bag and go straight back to the pantry for something sweet without a second thought. No shame, we’ve all done it. We know that they may taste good and satisfy a need for the moment, but those choices stick with you (and to you) for a lot longer than you’re realizing.
That perfect mixture of salty and sweet is designed to addict you to the flavors and keep you coming back for more. So it’s not you; it’s the food. Hopefully, this makes the breakup a little easier.
Mind Over Matter
The hardest part about getting rid of unhealthy eating habits? Training your mind to avoid junk food. Deciding to eat healthier doesn’t mean that your mind will just automatically snap into health mode. It’s a decision that you will have to consciously make every time you’re hungry or grocery shopping.
Start by raiding your pantry. You can’t make a choice to live a healthier life without throwing out all the bad choices you bought last week. It won’t be easy; obviously, they’ll be calling.
For some extra support, try one of our CravePatch stickers to help. Stick a few CravePatches on your shirt. With the helpful powers of all-natural essential oils, including bergamont, lemon, and grapefruit, you can turn your nose up at those tempting treats. Plus, the CravePatch is also kid-friendly (and environmentally-friendly) so that you can help your little ones make healthier decisions too.
Minimize and Moderation
If clearing out everything is too much and too drastic, throw a few things out at a time. Get rid of one or two snacks, maybe not even your favorites, that you can for sure get rid of and never buy or eat again.
Once those are gone, and you’ve gone a week or two, and the cravings are gone, and you’re able to live without them easily, pick a few more. At this point, pick out another one that you don’t eat as often and one that you love. It’s time to do the hard thing and get rid of one of your go-to snacks.
However, remember that you can still enjoy sweets and desserts in moderation. Eating in moderation can be key to keeping balance in your life.
Be Gentle and Compassionate
Training your mind one or two snacks at a time will make it easier to reach your goal. Trying to go cold turkey could shock your body, and you could have a bigger chance of falling back into old patterns. Getting rid of unhealthy snacks slowly helps you replace those items in your diet with better choices, making it easier to stick to healthy eating habits for the long haul.
Ok, so you’ve thrown out all your food. Time for shopping. Even if you only started with a few items, don’t leave your cupboards, or at least the space from the snacks, empty. This is where that replacement idea comes in.
Leaving that space empty will only make it worse when you do get hungry and need a snack. You’ll go to get something out of the cupboard and see the shelf bare. Then, in your mind, you’ll stress about the fact that the food you used to love is gone. It’ll be hard to keep from reaching for those bad foods.
Stick To the Plan
It’s time to head to the grocery store but do so with a plan and positive mindset in place. If you haven’t done so before, reach for one of our FocusPatch stickers to help keep your eye on the prize.
It might seem challenging but keep a positive attitude. Making these steps toward a healthier lifestyle might seem difficult at first, but everything is hard in the beginning. Remind yourself over and over again that you can do this, and you’re doing it for the right reasons.
So make a list. Don’t go to the grocery store blind. It might have worked in the past when you weren’t always making the right choices, but now it’s essential to make a list and stick to it.
Think of salty and sweet. You’ll crave both at some point, so find healthy alternatives for those bad foods you’ve made the decision to leave behind.
Time To Be a Master Chef
If you haven’t done so in the past, now is a good time to try your hand at meal prepping. These are just snacks we are talking about, but having containers ready with healthy munchies makes it easier when you want to grab something out of the fridge.
Having fruits and veggies ready to pick up and eat means there won’t be any additional work involved, which sometimes keeps us from making less than healthy choices.
Prepare To Meal Prep
It may seem a little obvious, but meal prep is great for, well, meals and snacks. Make snack bags you can throw in your bag or leave in your car (non-perishables, obviously). This way, you won’t be tempted to stop for fast food at any point because you’ll have the right choices at your fingertips. Faster than fast food, right?
Dinnertime can be tricky sometimes. Even if you want to cook, many times, families don’t get home in time to cook a full meal, or parents would rather spend more time with their kids after a long day.
Meal prepping your dinners on the weekends will give you the ease of taking out a ready-to-cook meal from the fridge and popping it in the oven for a while. This way, your family eats a well-balanced meal, and you don't have to sacrifice any family time after work for it.
It might seem like more work on the weekends, but it’s a great time and way to get your kids interested in healthy meals. Giving them a hand in preparing dinners makes them naturally curious and will have them trying healthier foods without a big fight.
Clear Your Mind
Everyone tells us this, but a clear and level head is the best way to avoid those nasty junk foods. When we get enough sleep, we aren’t so tired throughout the day that we have to grab unhealthy foods for a midday sugar rush.
We make unhealthy choices throughout the day because they’re easier right; fast food is faster than cooking because you’re tired from the day. You need an energy drink or soda cause you didn’t get a full eight hours last night and need a pick me up to make it till bedtime.
Analyze Your Choices
We aren’t saying that you won’t still need a little extra fuel after 3 pm. But, we are saying that with better sleep habits, your mind will be in a better place to make the right choices. Being more consistent with your sleep habits can help you stay on the right path long term.
If you need some help, check out the SleepyPatch that can help you get to sleep faster and get that REM cycle down. Nod off to sleep with the calming fragrances of mandarin, lavender, vetiver, and sweet marjoram essential oils.
Relax and Bid Goodbye to Stress
You know we’re going to say it: you need to relax. Stress is one of the major causes of unhealthy eating habits, and we have all fallen victim to it and one point or another. For many, junk food is a coping mechanism.
If we find ways to reduce our stress levels, we have a clearer mind to make it easier to focus on the important things, like making better food choices.
If you need some help, our ZenPatch works wonders for keeping you in a calming state. The mix of lavender and sweet orange essential oils works great for keeping your mind calm and clear to help you stay on a healthier path.
This Not That
As we said before, you need to replace unhealthy foods with healthy options to make this a long-term lifestyle change. Start with your protein and fat intake. Everyone thinks cutting out fats is a great way to live a healthier life. Yet, there are healthy fats out there that are not only good for you but keep your body going all day.
What Are Trans and Saturated Fats?
Trans and saturated fats are the types that you want to avoid. These are the fats that you find in junk foods and cause belly bloat and fill you up fast but cause a crash more quickly. This snacking causes you to be hungry faster but also crave more of the foods you just ate.
Indulge In the Good Stuff
Instead, go for healthy full fats, like nuts and avocado. Nuts are a great alternative to unhealthy snacks and keep you fuller for longer. Avocado is an excellent additive to any meal; it is full of all the healthy fats your body needs to stay full all day and burn the calories you take in.
Plus, what doesn’t go with guacamole? Literally nothing. Guacamole is perfect, and we are telling you it’s ok to grab a bowl full of this delicious green stuff.
You also need to ensure that you’re getting adequate amounts of proteins. This can come from meats and fish, but it can also come from beans as well as nuts and vegetables. Ensuring you have enough protein in your diet not only keeps you full throughout the day but it gives you a healthy stream of energy to keep you feeling great all day.
We can’t stress enough that fruits have enough sweetness and natural sugar in them to replace any candy craving you might have. Prepping fresh strawberries for the week will satisfy those sugar cravings you have after dinner without sacrificing your health.
We Know You Can Do It!
We sincerely hope these tips and steps have helped you today realize that junk food isn’t helping; it’s holding you back from living a healthier and fuller life. As parents, we always complain we don’t have enough energy to keep up with our children. But, these healthier food choices will help keep us going, so they might have trouble keeping up with us one day!