10 reasons why you’re craving junk food

20 April 2017 by
First published: 29 August 2016

Step away from the nachos and read these 10 reasons why you’re craving junk food. As we all know what it’s like to crave something naughty (but nice). That feeling of almost losing the will to live if we don’t give in to that contagious craving! Why do we feel the need to crave junk food so badly and what is this telling us about our lifestyle? It’s time to put down that tub of ice cream, throw away those packets of crisps and read our 10 reasons why you’re craving junk food.

Lack of sleep

Yes, you heard it right. Lack of sleep can cause you to crave junk food. In fact, Lily Soutter, a nutritionist and weight loss expert says: ‘spending an extra hour in bed can increase leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite.’ With that in mind, best to fit in an early night and catch up on those precious zzzs!

Not enough protein

It’s important to start your day right with food that’s packed full of healthy nutritional benefits. Eggs are great for curing cravings. ‘Try boiling them in advance, and keeping them in the fridge as an easy, snack to enjoy on-the-go. They will last up to a week,’ says Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist for superfood.uk

Having a small breakfast

If snacking on eggs for breakfast doesn’t tickle your tastebuds, perhaps a glorious bowl of oats will do the trick? ‘Oats are brilliant for keeping hunger pangs at bay. They are nutritious and contain a good amount of fibre. They’ve been shown to help balance blood sugar levels, keeping sugar cravings and hunger pains at bay.’ Shona assures us that: ‘a small bowl of porridge is a quick and easy snack and much better than reaching for that chocolate bar.’

Saying no to starters

It might sound daunting to eat more food in order to stop craving junk food, however Dr Marilyn Glenville, a leading nutritionist, explains: “if you have soup before a meal you will end up eating less calories during the meal. The soup gives you the sensation of being fuller because it remains in the stomach for longer and makes you feel more satisfied.’ Dr Glenville also explains: ‘the soup remaining in the stomach stops the cells in the stomach producing your hunger hormone ghrelin and turns off your appetite.’

 Are you thirsty or hungry?

Next time you think about opening the biscuit tin, simply ask yourself: ‘am I actually hungry or thirsty?’ If it’s only been a few hours since you’d last eaten, then it’s most likely that you are confusing hunger for thirst. Dr Glenville says: ‘try drinking a large glass of water when you are feeling those hunger pains and wait to see if they dissipate.’

Little willpower

Not having willpower can make you more vulnerable to giving into cravings. However, by tricking your brain to feeling full, this helps with putting a stop to wanting junk food. Also, Dr Glenville advises to choose plates that consist of the colour blue, as: “research shows that blue is a natural appetite suppressant. The colour is almost never found in natural foods, so our bodies have no natural appetite response to blue.’

Overthinking portion sizes

It’s not only colour that matters though, portion size is important too. Dr Glenville explains: ‘we tend to put larger portions on larger plates and end up eating more food. If you can’t fit as much on a plate, you will automatically be eating less.’ Try sticking to smaller-sized plates to reconstruct your portion size and cut back on those junk food cravings.

Not eating enough of good fats

‘Foods high in ‘good’ fats – such as oily fish, avocados, raw nuts, seeds and cold-pressed oils made from seeds can help slow the release of sugar into the blood and make us feel fuller, preventing cravings,’ says Dr Glenville.

Avoiding your greens

Not having a sufficient amount of important vitamins and minerals in your diet can make your body crave the unhealthy stuff more. Nutritionist Cassandra Barns suggests: ‘adding in a teaspoon of a super greens mixture to your water or juice can help keep hunger at bay.’ She also says: ‘It’s a great way to boost your nutritional intake with greens such as spirulina, chlorella and barley or wheatgrass. These superfoods contain fibre, helping you to feel fuller for longer, as well as supplying you with many energy-giving nutrients such as B vitamins to help you get through the day.”

You are easily distracted

Do you eat your meals in front of a screen? Dr Glenville explains: ‘you can eat up to 70 per cent more if distracted by watching the TV or in a cinema. Research has shown that eating lunch in front of your computer makes it harder to remember what you have eaten and then you don’t feel as full. As a result, you will then be looking for something else to eat.’ In fact, one study shows: ‘computer users ate twice as many biscuits half an hour later than the non-computer users eating lunch,’ says Dr Glenville.