5 ways to avoid a junk food binge

19 September 2014 by
First published: 20 September 2014

Unless you’re super human you’ll suffer from less-than-virtuous cravings like the rest of us! Try these 5 ways to avoid a junk food binge next time the munchies strike.

No matter how healthy your diet is, we all experience junk food cravings, and although it’s fine to treat yourself occasionally, once you start indulging, it can be very difficult to stop. Nutritionist, Louise Pyne explains, ‘Eating junk food can be addictive as it triggers certain parts of the brain which are associated with pleasure, reward and cravings, in fact the same areas of the brain that are stimulated by drugs like cocaine and heroin according to 2013 research by Harvard Medical School.’

If you’re one of the lucky few who knows when to stop – and you actually follow those instincts – great! But if, like many of us, you let your junk food binges get out of hand, these tips will be invaluable.

Magnesium deficiency has been linked to chocolate cravings

1. Eat a well balanced diet

Don’t allow hunger to lead you in the direction of junk food – stay full with healthy meals. Louise explains the easiest way to achieve this: ‘It’s best to follow a balanced diet of lean protein (poultry, eggs, legumes), complex carbohydrates (brown rice, wholemeal bread), good fats (oily fish like salmon, nuts and seeds and avocados) and lots of fruits and vegetables, aiming for around 7 portions daily.’

2. Eat little and often

A great way to stave off those junk food cravings is to eat small meals throughout the day. Louise says, ‘You should aim to eat three meals plus two snacks daily. Eating little and often will help to keep blood sugar levels stable, which will minimise the risk of cravings.’

3. Don’t keep it in the house

A great way to avoid bingeing on junk food is to not have any in your cupboards – if it’s not there you can’t eat it. Louise recommends ‘Filling your fridge with healthy, yet tasty food which you can reach for when a craving strikes and try to make your own healthy versions of comfort food – swap chips for baked sweet potato wedges, make homemade burgers out of grilled lean turkey mince served on a wholegrain bun, and ditch standard crisps for baked vegetable crisps made from root vegetables.’ Just thinking about these delicious alternatives makes us hungry!

4. Eat your greens

Ok, we know that you probably spent most of your childhood being told to do just that, but it was for good reason – leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach are high in magnesium. Louise explains why it’s important to stock up on the green stuff: ‘Magnesium deficiency has been linked to chocolate cravings.’ Admittedly it won’t give you the same taste that chocolate gives you, but it also won’t give you the guilt either!

5. Stock up on vitamins and minerals

Most of us have no idea if we have any vitamin or mineral deficiencies, but regularly taking supplements can help to prevent this from happening. Louise says, ‘Low blood glucose levels can often cause cravings. Chromium is a mineral that helps to balance blood glucose levels by making sure your body’s cells use insulin effectively.’