Defeating the Desire for Junk Food

Let’s talk about that dreaded moment. The moment there’s a tray of cookies available to you, for free, that your friends and family are encouraging you to enjoy. You know how good they will taste and it’s literally all you can think about!

So you eat one. Then you think, “well I’ve ruined my diet for today. I’ll start fresh tomorrow.” But, since you won’t be able to have cookies tomorrow and you’re going to start eating healthy tomorrow- you justify that you better eat five more cookies right now. And, when you get home, you eat more junk food, alone, in shame. You will feel guilty and bloated, but the negative feelings and self doubt just make you want to eat more, for comfort. 

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Maybe you do start fresh the next day, or maybe you give up and the binge continues until you’ve gained back all the weight you lost.

Does this sound familiar?

Let’s go back to that moment. The moment when you had been on track and you were tempted by delicious cookies. How can we change what happens in that moment so you don’t lose progress and feel defeated? 

First, we need to understand what is happening. Long ago our species needed to gain weight and store fat to survive long, cold Winters. When our ancestors found fruit in the warmer months, their brains would tell them “yes that’s good, you need more of that.”

Now sugar is always available to us. We have this endless supply of super sweet foods and our brains just light up and demand more so we can feel that dopamine rush that sugar provides. 

The cravings can feel completely overpowering, and with such easy access to the junk foods we crave, it’s no wonder that over 70% of Americans are overweight or obese. 

Once you’re aware of why you’re experiencing this intense craving, the next step is to accept it. You’re not weak, or a bad person because you want a delicious looking cookie. Even if you’ve given in a thousand times before, you’re still an amazing, bad ass person who deserves love! You’re a bad ass who is ready to change now.

The third step you have to take in that moment is living with the discomfort. The first few times you turn down food you’re used to enjoying, it feels uncomfortable. One side of your brain is begging for the cookie while the other side is reminding you that it’s a direct conflict to your goals. You’ll be fighting with yourself and the whole time you just want a damn cookie to make it all stop!

This is when you have to choose discomfort in the moment, so you can have long term comfort in your body. Your goal is long term health, long term energy, and long term happiness. The part of your brain that’s telling you “this is bad, don’t eat the cookie” understands that the little dopamine rush you get from the cookie is not worth sacrificing your important goals.  

My hope for you is that you will be able to strengthen the voice that tells you that the cookie is not worth it. Most likely, if you’re reading this, you’re not there yet. You still have the desire for high sugar, processed food, and the inner conflict. 

 The more you are able to experience the discomfort of not having the cookie in the difficult moments,  the stronger the voice in your brain of confidence and dedication will become. 

Allow yourself to experience the discomfort in that moment, remind yourself of your long term goals. If it feels difficult, write down your goals in that moment. Even if you know them, the process of writing them will give you a strong enough reminder to dim the desire for junk food. Why do you want to lose weight? How will your life be better if you do? Write it down.

Continue to practice being uncomfortable in those moments, and you will get to a point where you can enjoy just one cookie, occasionally, or say no thank you with ease. Don’t forget, you are a bad ass.