Kick the Junk Food Habit
by Tammie (http://SimpleHealthyTasty.com)
Growing up I had a Great-Grandma that would frequently say, "Oh... I cannot eat more than a bite of that, it's just too sweet." I never understood what on earth she was talking about. Too sweet? Unheard of! In fact, by my standards, the sweeter the better!
I remember scavenging the house searching for the treats Mom tried to hide from us. And on that rare occasion when I didn't find them…? Well, a wet finger and the sugar bowl would suffice in a pinch. Or if that wasn't enough I could always lift the bowl & dump sugar directly into my mouth. The source was insignificant but I needed my fix. Besides, I was normal right? Everyone enjoyed a "spoonful of sugar!" Grandma must simply have been putting on a show. I was certain that she too went home and succumbed to a banana dipped in Jell-O powder straight from the box. After all, bananas could not be sweet enough on their own, could they?! It took me years and years to realize that I had a sugar and junk food addiction. And even more years to realize that it was not only physical but emotional also.
Apparently my story is not all that far removed from many others. A common theme for inquiries of the School of Natural Healing is something similar to, "I eat very little meat, I have given up dairy and soda and I am trying to eat more raw food, but I can't give up my M&M's, chips, hot tamales, cookies, snickers etc. etc. etc.!!! How do I give up the junk?
Ten years ago this was the VERY place I was at! I seriously didn't think I would EVER totally give up my junk food. Funny thing though, I was no longer ignorant! I was starting to understand better about nutrition and the role it plays in health (thanks to The School of Natural Healing). I also began to understand the addictive qualities of junk food and started to wonder if maybe, just maybe, Grandma hadn't been fooling. Maybe everyone didn't have sweets calling them like I did. I would limit my consumption but it was just so hard for me to abstain and I felt sooo deprived without it. However I also had my own children growing fast and I was determined not to be the one to cause them a similar addiction. I knew that sweets (while not the exclusive source) and the associated weight problems were something I fought most of my life. I wanted better for my children. It's amazing the things you can do for your kids that you would never do for yourself!
Then it hit me! I was focusing on the bad, and what you focus on you get more of. My blinders were on and all I could see was the things I couldn't have, on what I was giving up. I was focusing on my weight, (which ironically would only give me more of it, talk about a backfire. Just one of many reasons that diets simply don't work, but that's a topic for another day) I was trying to use will power alone and "white knuckle" my way to health.
At this point everything changed, not all at once, but little by little I noticed a shift in my outlook. I began to focus on all the AMAZING wonderful WHOLE foods we have available to us. Instead of feeling like I had to give up my ice cream and cookies I started finding ways to make them healthier. I knew that my little family and I shouldn't feel like food couldn't be fun. Family Mealtime (a big part of which is the meal) can be enjoyable.
So we started new traditions and again focused on the good. It was a slow transition at first and I know I ate a lot more "healthified" sweets then I probably should have, but it was a very freeing feeling. We were eating lots and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and I knew our treats were much healthier than the ones I had been gorging on before. By taking our favorite recipes (not bananas & Jell-O!) and reworking them I didn't have the guilt because I knew they contained good nutrients. I could have my cake and eat it too!
Then slowly I noticed something interesting begin to happen. I started to lose any longing for the old treats. They simply didn't fit into my lifestyle any longer. They seemed so hollow, tasteless, and well..., devoid! I found even when I would go somewhere without my healthy treats and the other kind were offered me I could easily say, "No thanks, I'm not hungry for that" and REALLY mean it. I wasn't using will power, I simply didn't want it. Before long I realized that I was becoming more and more satisfied with fewer healthy treats. Why? What caused my tastes to change? I had long since lost the excess weight, even while consuming lots of "healthified" treats and I found this interesting. The conclusion I came to was that I had filled myself with so many good things that my physical, emotional, or even spiritual didn't have room for overindulgence and gluttony. I found I respected the amazing gift that my body was and I wanted to treat it as such. I started to pay attention to the signals my body gave me. I think that all those years of junk food had turned that off in me somehow. Maybe I wasn't listening, or more likely, I just didn't know what to listen for.
The more nourished I became the less and less I craved even "healthified" sweets. I do still enjoy a good healthified treat once in a while but I now feel a whole new sense of freedom. Grandma was right, amazingly enough I've said it myself, that's "just too sweet." I no longer feel like I'm living to eat but I can truly say I eat to live. Life is not only good but it is Simple, Healthy, and Tasty.
To make it easy I have listed some keys that I think will help anyone struggling to give up their favorite junk food and become more consistent in a healthy lifestyle!
1. Do NOT try White Knuckle Depravation. It isn't lasting and causes unneeded stress (which can be worse for your health then the junk food). Go ahead and have plenty of treats around. Just be sure they are healthified. For lots of yummy healthified treat recipes go to my blog www.SimpleHealthyTasty.blogspot.com.
2. Get all food out of your house with the following ingredients in the top 5. Then quit buying "foods" with these ingredients in them AT ALL. If it has it in it then don't buy it!
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Any Artificial Sweeteners (check my ingredient list (http://simplehealthytasty.blogspot.com/2008/04/ingredients-what-to-look-for-when.html) to see how these are labeled)
Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Artificial Colors (Red 40, yellow, lake blue, etc.)
Partially Hydrogenated Oils of ANY kind (also known as trans-fats)
3. Follow my Ingredient List: http://simplehealthytasty.blogspot.com/2008/04/ingredients-what-to-look-for-when.html. This will make it easy, especially if you choose to purchase a treat instead of making one. I do still have times when I eat more of the good and okay lists then I do on the better and best but I have found as long as I am focusing on the best I keep a pretty good balance. For over eight years now I have been able to steer clear of the bad, ugly, and other unwanted ingredients. Print that page and take it with you to the store! I never worry about calories, fat grams etc. I just read ingredients. Again this was a new found freedom for me. I spent so much of my teenage and young adult years counting calories and being afraid of anything with fat in it. I found it is just more simple then that!
4. Always remember that what you focus on you get more of. Focus on health and all the good things (most of which probably are not things.) Spend time strengthening relationship with those you love and care about the most. Focus not only on good foods but find things you love and are interested in. Discover a new skill you didn't know you had. Take that course or study that subject you have always found interesting. (Don't forget that now is a great time to further your studies with The School of Natural Healing with their by one class get the second one free!) Be sure though not to overdo too MANY good things because that is NOT good!
5. Above all, give yourself time. It doesn't happen overnight, tastes do change but it is slow. Be patient with yourself and others. If you are addicted you WILL have withdrawals and cravings for a little while until it is out of your system. Six weeks is just about enough time to let your body know that you mean business and that you are serious about getting rid of those junk food cravings.
When it comes to taking care of our bodies learn to listen to them. They do try to let us know what they need and want especially when we move toward wholeness. Follow that instinct and down the road when your hear yourself say, it's "just too sweet!" Remember that Great-Grandma was probably less affected by advertising and was actually right!
6. Understand up-front that people are going to question you. Many people called me crazy and radical when I started to give up meat, processed foods and dairy. I wondered how come trying to go back to the way they were originally intended was radical! To me it seemed radical to, in effect, poison our bodies with overly processed foods and then drug them with more toxins to try to feel better. Anyway it was amazing the difference it made once I quit worrying about appearances and decided I wanted to truly be healthy and have a healthy family!
Editor's Note: A key factor is support of like-minded people! We are starting a group on Facebook where you can post your struggles, successes, recipes, cravings and even slip-ups. Tammie says that it takes about 6 weeks for the toxins to leave your body if you are addicted, so we are going to support each other through the 6 weeks. We will begin January 1, 2011 and continue through mid-February. Join the group now to prepare for January 1!