Hot chips. Mmm. Hotdogs. MMM. Chocolate. Ugh!

Fast food is delicious, and it’s all so tempting. Unfortunately it’s all kinda bad for you as well. If you’re trying to lose weight there are no great big Nutritional Secrets that everyone is keeping from you; it’s actually very simple. You need to expend more energy than you consume, and the food that you eat needs to be healthy, nutritious and filling for its size.

Exercising self-control in the battle against junk food

Of course, losing weight isn’t as simple as just deciding to stop eating bad things, because if it was there wouldn’t be the huge amounts of weight loss aids and industries that exist today. These industries exist because human willpower is fairly terrible. Why? It’s all because of our monkey brains that evolved to keep us alive. Damn monkey brains…

We are hardwired to want to eat lots of salty and fatty foods as much as we can, because way back when we were still cave dwellers, salty and fatty foods were incredibly rare, and so when we did stumble across them, we had a far better chance of survival if we ate as much of these foods as we could while the going was good. Fast forward to today and we’re all safe and snug in our houses, but there’s a plethora of fast food chains all selling the fatty, the salty and the oh-so-tasty. This means that while the monkey brain is still working hard and fast and telling us to eat all those onion rings (with a side of fries), the reality of it is a bit different than the times of cave dwelling, mammoths and sabre toothed tigers.

Also see: The Top 10 healthy eating habits

Junk food offers a quick, sharp jolt to the brain – a reinforcement if you will – and a congratulations on finding the high energy and high fat food that will keep us warm and keep us alive. We need to be able to manage the irresistible lure of salty snacks in the face of our ever-more-sedentary lifestyles, because the kicker of it is obesity and heart disease. Damn junk food! There are a number of issues and problems with junk food, not least of all is the fact that the high from eating junk food is short, sharp and over all too soon. How many of us have crumbled like so many sugary cakes after a whole week of ‘being good’ and bought a tasty burger, only to have the high of enjoying that food disappear before you’ve even licked the last morsels of grease from your fingertips?

It’s a curse of the modern age, but there are ways to manage junk food cravings, though, so not all hope is lost! You can actually retrain your brain to get a very similar reward from eating far healthier foods, which will then work to make your overall lifestyle healthier. You need to begin by identifying what your major cravings and your major triggers are. If you can figure out when you’re at your weakest, and then work to make sure you have something to manage the cravings when they come, then you’ll be a whole lot more likely to be able to avoid the call of the donuts.

Here’s a couple of simple steps to make it easier:

  1. Figure out your weak spots. If you know you’re always after something salty at 3pm, then keep some hummus and some celery on your desk at work or in the fridge all cut up and ready for you to snack on.
  2. Get a buddy to help you to control your cravings. If you know you always have burgers with a certain friend, then perhaps suggest trying a new restaurant or a healthy spot instead.
  3. Stay away from the booze, because there’s nothing that makes you feel more like junk food than one too many wines, or a staggering hangover.

Reward yourself with things that aren’t food. If you usually congratulate yourself on a job well done with a chocolate or two, think about doing something like going to a new movie, or buying a new dress for yourself. This will steer the emphasis off food and on to you.