Fast food undoubtedly holds a strong grip on society.
With the convenience of pulling into a drive-through on the way home, the dreaded thought of preparing a meal after a long day of work, and the natural desire for quick, tasty comfort foods, millions of Americans succumb to the temptation of fast food daily. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that as many as 1 in 3 adults consume fast food on any given day.
Unfortunately, despite its convenience, low cost, and satisfying taste, consuming too much fast food can be detrimental to your health.
Fan-favorite fast foods—such as pizza, cheeseburgers, and French fries—often include significant amounts of sodium, saturated fats, and hidden sugars. Plus, they’re high in calories and lack many of the nutrients that make up a balanced diet.
Consuming too much of these ingredients can lead to harmful effects, including bloating and weight gain, an increase in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and a decline in your mood and energy.
Your body deserves better.
Kicking fast food to the curb in favor of healthier options is a great start to achieving a balanced diet, but we understand it can be difficult to let go of comfort foods that your body has learned to crave.
If you’re ready to develop a healthier diet, here are 7 tips to help you ease away from fast food!
1. Plan your meals!
If you turn to fast food after forgetting to pack a lunch or buy groceries for dinner, try meal planning to save yourself from the drive-through!
Over the weekend, dedicate time to planning your meals for the coming week. Whether you spent ten minutes making a grocery list or an hour preparing and storing dishes, any time spent planning helps!
Planning meals ahead of time can limit the appeal of fast food’s convenience. Instead of heading to a fast-food chain for lunch, pack a meal the night before work. Rather than coming home to cook after a long day at work, pull a container out of the fridge to heat up food that you’ve prepared in advance.
The adage frequently used by parents—“We have food at home”—holds true. Avoid the temptation of fast food by keeping your kitchen stocked with meals that are ready to go!
2. Find joy in cooking.
If a busy schedule prevents you from preparing meals in advance, cooking can feel like a drag. But really, cooking is an art. Look at it as a new hobby that produces delicious creations for your enjoyment. Find recipes you’ve never tried before and enjoy the act of creating something new!
If you’re looking for some quick, easy recipes to start with, we’ve got you. Through The 15 Day Challenge, we offer a free eGuide packed with delicious and nutritious recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus a shopping list to streamline your trip to the grocery store!
Experimenting with new recipes frequently can keep your diet from feeling bland or repetitive. Try prioritizing food groups that you’ve neglected in the past, introducing more variety to your diet, or finding new, more appealing ways to prepare your fruits and vegetables!
3. Try alternatives!
If you’re drawn to the drive-through by the taste of fast food, look for alternatives to satisfy your cravings! There are plenty of options that mimic the meals you love without so many calories and preservatives.
The internet has no shortage of mock recipes that replicate fast food, with some even putting a healthier twist on your favorite indulgences. (For example, check out this alternative to a greasy slice of pizza!)
And if you’re struggling to let go of soda, check out these two alternatives to help you ease away from pop!
4. Consider using supplements!
If you’re having trouble controlling your desires for fast food, consider trying one of TLC’s products!
Looking to limit your cravings for junk food? Resolution Drops may help!*
If hunger pangs drive you to eat fast food, Iaso® Instant Tea contains a soluble dextrin corn fiber that may help you feel fuller!*
These products may help you regulate your appetite and knock fast food to the back of your mind. Just be sure to consult your healthcare professional before taking any supplements!*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Not intended for use by children. If you are pregnant, nursing, or taking medications, consult your physician prior to use.
5. Identify your triggers.
Determine what draws you to crave fast food. Is it the taste? Convenience? Stress relief?
Before The 15 Day Challenge, Casandra Wright struggled to resist the temptation of fast food when she received notifications from her favorite chain’s app. During her challenge, she deleted the app and found that removing the constant reminders throughout her day decreased her desire to hit the drive-through.
Additionally, many people who joined The 15 Day Challenge told us that stress caused them to overeat and indulge in fast food. If your cravings increase when you feel stressed, consider other ways of relieving your mind, such as journaling, yoga, or exercise!
What is your trigger? Can you avoid it by shaking up your routine or placing temptations out of sight, out of mind?
6. Keep a food journal!
Practice intentional and mindful eating by logging your meals in a food journal!
Journaling can help you stay accountable to a healthy diet! Note what is going into your body on a daily basis as a visual reminder of how much you consume, how many calories you take in, and how often you eat junk food.
Throughout his 15 Day Challenge, Mark Smith kept a detailed food journal to monitor every meal and track his progress. He now refers to his journal to see how far he’s come. Writing down your goals and tracking the steps you take to achieve them can help keep you motivated, especially when it comes to a change in your diet!
7. Do your research.
Read about fast food’s effects. Learn about the ingredients in your favorite takeout meals and remind yourself that while these foods may provide immediate satisfaction, their overconsumption can have a negative impact on your body!
Research the foods your body needs, as well as the daily recommended calories based on your age and weight. Compare that number to the calories found in your go-to meal at a fast-food chain. Taking the time to understand what you’re putting in your body can shift your perspective!
Eat to fuel your body!
When Kasandra Balbuena shared her 15 Day Challenge journey, she told us that she made a breakthrough in her diet by learning to eat for fuel, not to feel full.
If you’re completing The 15 Day Challenge—or you simply have a goal to eat healthier—remember that food’s true purpose is to nurture your body. It’s meant to provide you with energy, not make you feel bloated and sluggish. Food was never meant to draw you into unhealthy patterns that feel difficult to quit.
If you’re eating healthy and still struggling to lose weight, be sure to consult your doctor. But if you simply need help kicking your cravings for fast food, The 15 Day Challenge is here to keep you accountable. Remember these seven tips to free yourself from fast food’s grip. Your body will thank you!
By Morgan Brown, Creative Content Writer