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How to Set and Keep a New Year Resolution to Quit Junk Food

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Updated January 03, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Junk food is the bane of food addicts -- cheap, freely available wherever you go, and if you are trying to cut down on food elsewhere, you may have to resort to junk food to deal with hunger pangs. Research also shows that junk food is specifically designed to be addictive, which might explain why some of us have a tendency to binge on it. So, can you keep your New Year's Resolution to quit junk food?
Difficulty: Hard
Time Required: A lifetime

Here's How:

  1. It's great to set a date for your resolution, such as January 1st, but remember that changing addictive behavior happens in stages. Once you have made the decision to change, you need to prepare sufficiently to make the action stage successful.
  2. Don't wait until December 31st to clear out the junk food in your kitchen. Give away any stockpiled candy or chips to kids who are trick-or-treating at Halloween, contribute to the Christmas stockings of the kids of friends or relatives, or donate unopened packs of candy, chips or other junk foods to your local food bank.
  3. Instead of replenishing your supplies with more junk food, start experimenting with more healthy snacks. For example, instead of purchasing chips, try healthier versions made from other vegetables such as yams and other root vegetables. Instead of candy, try fresh or dried fruits. If cookies are your thing, choose cookies containing essential nutrients -- for example, walnuts and macadamia nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, whereas chocolate chips do not.
  4. Prepare yourself emotionally for the change, starting well before the new year. Start to develop a positive experience with healthy foods, using the holiday period to experiment with foods that take a little longer to prepare but are worth the effort. Focus on savoring the enjoyment of healthy, home cooked food, in reasonable portions.
  5. Use affirmations to keep yourself on track. Post a sign on your fridge saying, "Every day that I eat healthy food, I am becoming more and more healthy."
  6. Don't completely deny yourself any single food. Treat yourself to an indulgent dessert or other treat once a week.
  7. Eat before heading out to the mall, so you won't be tempted at the food court. Take a small juice box and a granola bar with you in case you get hungry or thirsty.
  8. Indulge when it is really worth it -- when you are invited for a special meal, or enjoying a favorite treat. Don't "diet" all the time -- keep your calorie intake reasonable, and don't waste your calorie quota on junk food.
  9. Find alternative sources of sensory pleasure so you aren't resorting to food to feel better. Treat yourself to a massage, a cinnamon latte, or a bunch of fresh cut flowers.
  10. Keep track of your progress. Each month you stay junk-food free, treat yourself to something indulgent.

Tips:

  1. Remember that junk food is generally food that is low in nutrients other than "empty calories" -- usually in the form of sugar or fat -- and is often high in harmful ingredients such as excessive salt and chemicals used in processing the food.
  2. Find the healthy equivalent of junk food to replace it with -- replace candy with fruit, ice cream with frozen yogurt, chocolate chip cookies with oat, nut and dried fruit granola bars or cookies.
  3. Soda pop is a prevalent type of junk food. Try to replace it with water or real fruit juice. Watch out for sweet, "fruity" drinks that are high in sugar and contain little or no real fruit juice.

What You Need

  • Pen and paper -- to write affirmations, shopping lists, and to keep track.
  • Some imagination -- to think of alternatives.
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Addictions
  4. Food Addiction
  5. Quit Junk Food - How to Set and Keep a New Year Resolution to Quit Junk Food

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