When You Want to Eat Junk, Do This


Most wellness coaches, I would argue, will tell you not to eat junk food. And that is what my functional medicine doctor (who also is my wellness coach) recently told me. He told me to cut out everything I love!

Ok, he didn’t do that. He didn’t actually say those words.

He wants me to be healthy, so he’s encouraging me to eat healthy. That’s sort of why I went to him in the first place. When he does encourage me to eat healthy, I tell myself that means letting go of my bad habits – avoiding the foods and drinks I love.

Whenever I talk to my coach, I’m reminded how crazy our society is about food and health. We support companies that produce junk foods with added sugar, salt, caffeine, etc., and then we suffer with the results of this truly addictive fare.

In addition, some of us are predisposed to love that kind of food. There is a little-discussed genetic component to food preferences. I’ll be sharing more about that in future articles, but these processed foods affect brain chemistry, and so food can improve your mood, but only for a time.  Then the cravings set in.

So, what can you do when you are wanting – craving – junk food, but you’re trying to change your ways?

Make a Disaster Plan

I encourage you to make a disaster plan that you can pull out whenever you are tempted to eat things you know you will regret. My plan includes all the things I will do before eating those things. Here are my first five items from the list I made 17 years ago, to give you some ideas:

  1. Go outside and connect with nature.
  2. Call a bariatric friend and take myself outside (or sit in my car, if it’s raining) to talk.
  3. Make an appointment with my therapist.
  4. Eat a healthy meal (solid protein, veggies, a small amount of a whole grain carb), even if it’s not mealtime.
  5. Use my feelings & needs cards to sort out what’s happening and what will help me. When I do this, I almost always find a way to get my needs met without eating junk.

Work Your Way Down the List

Once I made my disaster-plan list, I resolved to use it whenever I started to get into trouble with food. It has become my way of life. Often when I want to overeat, I skim and pick something from my list that I feel drawn to.

Mitigate the “Damage”

There have been times when I’ve not been able to talk myself into using the list. If that situation arises, I have a plan for that, too. I focus on mitigating the damage. In other words, I intentionally eat what I’m craving – mindfully. I savor it, take small bites, chew slowly, and pause often. If I’m going to have it, I make sure I fully experience it.

Often, I measure out a small portion and tell myself I can go back for more if I really want it. That is how I lessen the mindless handfuls. For example, I’ll put five olives in a little bowl, take them to another room, sit and eat them mindfully, and then check in with myself. Was that enough, I ask myself? If not, I get five more olives and go through the process again.

I also have had success mitigating with a “good enough” food. The healthiest food that will feel like a treat. Sometimes it’s dark chocolate, three squares at a time. Sometimes, it’s almonds. Sometimes it’s cold, roasted veggies from the fridge (LOVE these).

It’s amazing how different some foods taste when I make the effort to actually taste them, notice how my stomach feels after eating each bite, and notice how pleasurable (or not) the experience is.

Being fully present for it allows me to learn what is truly worth it.

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From Katie Jay’s Small Bites newsletter. Subscribe and get your complimentary report: The 21 Most Common Mistakes People Make after Bariatric Surgery at www.BariSupport.com. © 2022, Katie Jay. All rights reserved.