How To Stop Eating Junk Food

Last week I wrote about a post on how "Food Can Be Medicine." 

In it I talked about the importance of eliminating processed, unhealthy foods. And how eating real, whole, unprocessed foods can help heal our body from ailments.

But when you’ve eaten the processed stuff for years, making any kind of dietary change can be overwhelming. In fact, it can be downright scary and confusing. And its definitely easier said than done!

Believe me, I understand. Kicking my love for potato chips is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do! And disclaimer - I still sometimes struggle with it!

One way that’s helped me stop eating junky food is a concept called “Crowding Out.”

What is “Crowding Out?

"Crowding Out" is the practice of focusing on eating unprocessed, whole, foods.

Instead of thinking about the foods that you are trying to stop eating you focus on the foods that you can! Particularly on new foods that you might have never tried before! 

You know how when we’re told we can’t do something it becomes the only thing we want to do?

I don’t know about you, but when I decide to stop eating a food that I love it becomes all that I can think about. I dream about it and sometimes feel like I will die if I don’t have it! (I’m not being dramatic or anything…)

So how did I kick junk food to the curb?

By “crowding out.”

By focusing on eating whole, unprocessed foods, I was able to "crowd out" the bad stuff. Soon, there wasn’t room on my plate (or in my kitchen) for it anymore!

How I Crowded Out

The first thing I did to “crowd out” was to keep a food journal. This helped me become more aware of the foods I needed to stop eating. Doing this was helpful because it made me be more mindful into what I was eating. And why.

Next I read through my food journal and made a list of all the foods I wanted to cut out. I  put a lot of thought into what was it about those foods that made me crave it. I felt sick after eating most of the junk food I ate, so why did I keep eating it?

With potato chips, some things I noted were:

  • I liked the crunch.
  • I liked the habit of picking up a food and munching on it.

  • I liked the salt.

So I had to find real, whole food alternatives that would still please these habits.

Here’s what I did:

To meet the need for crunch, I made homemade kale chips.

  1. To do this I washed a whole head of kale and then broke up the leaves into bite-sized pieces.

  2. Then I put it in a salad spinner to drain the excess water and let it dry out for a bit.

  3. Next I covered a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the kale out on it.

  4. I brushed the leaves with oil (coconut or hemp). 

  5. Then sprinkled it with hemp seeds. This is a tip I learned from Sarah. It added an extra nutty flavor and more crunch!

  6. After baking  I had a crunchy, healthy snack that satisfied the crunchies and munchies!

To please the need for mindless picking I ate blueberries! They are tiny and low in fructose that I could eat a bunch of them without overdoing it!

Another food I wanted to cut out was sugar. Before going cold turkey with the 8-week I Quit Sugar program I had already cut out chocolate and ice cream.

How?

I replaced chocolate with cacao. I made smoothies or other sweet treats like this one filled with cacao nibs and powder. 

Cacao doesn't taste as sweet as chocolate. But having something that looked like it had a mental effect that met any need I had for the real stuff.

As for ice cream, my good friend Roadbunner shared with me her tip. Instead of eating ice cream, I froze bananas and then blended them in my Vitamix!

Since bananas have a lot of sugar, I would use half a banana in my morning smoothie. (That was also filled with cacao nibs and powder!) 

I would put the other half of the peeled banana in a ziplock bag and throw it in the freezer. 

After a few days I accumulated enough bananas to blend in my Vitamix! Once blended, the frozen bananas had a consistency is like ice cream! With cacao nibs and nut toppings it felt like I was having a bowl of ice cream! 

Why Crowding Out Works

After making substitutions like I shared above, made my cravings for the junk stuff go away. In fact, now days I even prefer frozen banana “ice cream” to the real stuff! Now, real ice cream tastes too sweet me (and because dairy).

Crowding out changed my palate. 

It had a psychological effect that helped me not feel deprived. 

And I was able to open myself to new foods that are just as satisfying, gentler, kinder and healthier for my body.

Now its your turn!

Will you try to "crowding out?" How?

What is one new-to-you real, unprocessed food that you would like to try? And what junky food can that “crowd out?”

Be adventurous and creative! Make a list and start brainstorming!

Then send me your ideas - I’d love to try them out myself!