5 Ways to Reduce Junk Food Cravings
Purple is not just the colour of royalty. It's now showing up in all kind of foods such as asparagus, carrots, cauliflower, kale, even sweet potatoes. And berries, of course!!
Purple foods don't just look pretty, there's actually a science behind why foods with deep purple pigments (beetroot, black cherries, blackberries, blueberries, eggplant, elderberries, plums, pomegranate, red grapes, and red cabbage) are nutritionally dense and full of antioxidant compounds linked to brain function and improved heart health. Purple foods can also help you maintain a desirable weight and even increase longevity. (1).
But are we actually eating them?
When we’re stressed and craving comfort food, sweets and other carbs are what we reach for. There’s actually a scientific reason why we do this. The sugary carbs release dopamine, our 'happy hormone', so we’re flooded with blissful feelings while eating (2).
Have you ever been in this boat? I have, more times than I can count!
Unfortunately, that slice of cake with buttery icing washed down with an ice cold Coke provides only temporary solace. We eat them and feel a moment of sheer bliss…. which s often followed by feelings of guilt, shame and disgust (3).
When I'm stressed or busy, I'll often skip meals - sometimes for the whole day - then I get to a point where I'm RAVENOUS and want to eat everything in sight. Corn chips, guacamole, bread, treats - you name it, I wanted it!
Unfortunately, that slice of cake with buttery icing and the large ice cold Coke provides only temporary solace. We eat them, then wonder why we feel so feel crappy.
It’s totally possible to break these habits - you just gotta get over the hump! It takes your taste buds 14 days to change, so if you can stick out the first two weeks, then it gets so much easier to resist these junk food. Don’t just try to stop eating - swap it with something else. Fruits make excellent snacks - the sweetness satiates us, and the antioxidants nourish our cells.
It’s taken time, but now I habitually turn to superfoods to curb my cravings.
Smoothie bowls loaded with leafy greens and berries, quality carbs like bananas or oranges, sometimes bumped up with plant protein powder to add extra protein that keeps me satiated for much longer. These types of foods actually nourish and nurture your body. And it doesn't take long before these are the foods you CRAVE instead. I'm not kidding when I say that I'd prefer a smoothie bowl, packed out with spinach, cucumber, celery, bananas and berries, over literally anything else. They are my JAM!!
According to the National Institutes of Health, a superfood is one that goes beyond providing basic nutrients to provide additional health benefits. It's no secret that our the nutritional value of our food is decreasing, due to chemical spraying, soil depletion and the growing food export trade.
Here's my Top 5 Tips to maximise on nutrients without breaking the bank.
1) Invest in a quality Super Greens powder.
These are absolutely packed with minerals, plant protein and help to alkalise the body - without any preparation needed. Whether you opt for barley grass, wheat grass, spirulina, or a blend of many different varieties of green, start adding it into your smoothie, juice or water TODAY.
2) Buy in bulk.
It's often way cheaper to buy a box of produce rather than a bag. Don't stress about getting a massive variety every single day - change up the boxes you buy each week and there's your variety. For example, I buy 1kg boxes of baby spinach and rocket at Benara Fresh for only $10 - compared to paying $5 for 250g at Coles.
3) Think simple meals.
My favourite dinner meal at the moment takes about 5 minutes to prep and 15 minutes to cook. Going into winter, I like something warm for dinner so I add a cooked portion to my raw dinner. Slicing up a few sweet potatoes and either baking them (without oil) or boiling them until soft, I put them in a giant 'taco' made with a few large lettuce leaves, packed out with salad veggies (baby spinach, rocket, tomato, cucumber etc). Drizzled with tahini mixed with lemon and a dash of maple syrup. It's nutritious, cheap and totally delish.
4) Shop local.
Local produce generally contains more nutrients, simply because it hasn't sat in storage for ages, travelling across the country. Local growers at farmers markets offer fresh produce at good prices, for seasonal foods.
If you don't know what's in season, just look for what is cheapest and buy lots of that. For example, oranges come into season in the winter time (hello vitamin C), and I bought a 3kg bag from IGA yesterday for only $4.99!
5) When you can't buy fresh, supplement.
There are so many amazing plants (like berries) that are either super expensive, or super sprayed with chemical toxins and preservatives. We need their antioxidants, minerals and enzymes for vibrant health - so what can we do?
I supplement my plant based diet with a whole food product called Juice Plus. It's 27 different vine ripened fruits and vegetables, grown in quality soils and free from all chemical spraying, which is then juiced, dehydrated and encapsulated. Put simply, it's the nutritional equivalent of raw fruits and vegetables without the hassle of trying to buy them organic. Supplements ARE NOT a replacement for eating fresh produce - we need that too! Supplementing just gives our cells the goodness they need, but only if it's in a format the body can actually absorb.
Which brings me to my last point.
NOT ALL SUPPLEMENTS ARE CREATED EQUAL.
The local chemist houses endless shelves of 'supplements', promising longevity and health. And they are quite cheap too - but do they actually deliver what they promise?
I remember watching that documentary on port-a-loos, 'Kenny', where he tells the public that the number one thing blocking up our toilets isn't actually poo - or toilet paper - it's undigested nutritional supplements. This has massive ramifications - what is the point of taking supplements that go straight through our bodies and into the toilet?
It's a complete waste of money. Look for a quality supplement that the body can actually utilise. I chose Juice Plus due to the quality of research that supports it, with many gold standard studies conducted by some of the most reputable universities in the world (4). It's clinically proven to improve heart health, boost the immune system, reduce oxidative stress, promotes healthy skin and gums and reduces inflammation.
Whatever you choose to supplement with, just make sure it's of a high quality and preferably from a whole food source. And ask to see the research!
Kate Brookie, a PhD candidate in nutritional psychology at the Otago in New Zealand, states, "Whole foods, especially fruit and vegetables, provide your brain with the nutrients necessary for key processes involved in mood and well-being.” (5).
Put simply: Fruits and veggies totally ROCK!!
Give your body what it's actually craving and eat a rainbow of fresh produce. Over time, you'll feel your energy increase, cravings and belly fat reduce and best of all, your vibrancy return!