When it comes to having a fast food addiction, I know first hand how hard it can be to break it. Let’s start with my childhood, when McDonald’s was a regular thing. Burger King’s number 6 combo ( chicken sandwich of course), was also a regular favorite. In high school, Baskin Robbins was a weekly treat for the Mocha Blast shake, and my go-to lunch was Chick-Fil-A with a fry, shake and sandwich. Pizza Hut’s personal pan pizza ( pepperoni, of course), Wendy’s Frosty and fries, McDonald’s Butterfinger Blast, Sonic’s Birthday Cake Shake and Little Caesar’s pepperoni pizza were all favorites of mine, and ones I indulged in regularly. I mean, by the time I was 18, it was abnormal for me not to visit one of these places at least three or four times a week. I grew up thinking this was natural, until my health took a serious toll at age 19. I had to fight off a fast food addiction, along with a mad sugar addiction, all for my health. I gave it up all cold turkey, and I’m here to tell you, you can too. The trick is, you have to really want to. Dieting won’t get you there. The will to be healthy, no matter what it takes for your body, mind and future’s sake must be the real motivator. If you’re suffering a fast food addiction, try these simple tips that worked for me. It wasn’t easy, but it did work, and I’ve been 13 years without one fast food meal. Trust me, I can’t even stand the smell of those places now, and I’m pretty sure if you felt as great as I do, you’d be the same way!
Your body can develop an addiction to fast food, but not a dependency, so don’t think that just because you have a fast food addiction you need to wean yourself off of it. Yet, fast food is laced with hormones and opiates that trick your mind into thinking you have to have them. It's the reason the fast food industry makes billions of dollars per year, while we get more obese every single year. People just can't say no. So, in order to quit, you've got to go cold turkey. Weaning yourself away will only make things harder, I promise. Your body will adjust and before long, it won't crave it. After all, not smelling it, seeing it and thinking about it all week just makes things 100% easier.
This was my favorite trick that worked for me. I started baking my own chicken by coating skinless strips in egg whites, then sprinkled them with sea salt, black pepper, onion powder and ground flaxseeds to mimic the breaded chicken from fast food places. It is actually really good if you’re a meat eater. I no longer am, but loved this meal at the time. I also used to take non-fat plain yogurt, stir in some zero calorie sweetener, and freeze it for an hour. Come back to it, drizzle with sugar free chocolate syrup, and it’s like ice cream! Plus, it’s totally low calorie. For pizza, I took portabella mushrooms, added tomato sauce (plain - not the kind with sugar), and sprinkled it with more mushrooms, fat free mozzarella and baked it for a pizza-like treat. Try what you can to make healthy versions of your fast food favorites at first; for example cut up sweet potatoes likes fries and bake in your own oven. It works like a dream in the beginning and it makes you excited to cook!
Even though cooking up your favorite versions of fast food meals is one of the best ways to get rid of a fast food addiction, you should also eat plain old healthy foods like raw veggies, low sugar fruits such as berries and apples, and plenty of lean protein from clean sources. Snack on raw carrots and grape tomatoes, which are naturally sweet, and even let yourself have a square of pure dark chocolate a day. For your carbs, keep it simple to things like whole oats or quinoa cooked in almond milk with stevia and cinnamon, and try sweet potatoes roasted or baked. Getting your tongue used to healthy, natural foods is key to turning your taste buds around.
My favorite seasoning is Mrs. Dash and when I quit eating fast food, I used it on everything to make healthy foods taste better. I wasn’t used to eating regular, natural foods, so I needed something to jazz it up without tons of sodium like my tongue was used to. Sodium is incredibly high in fast foods of all kinds, even those that seem healthy. You need to get your taste buds used to not having so much processed sodium, which contains the addictive MSG. Mrs. Dash offers an intense flavor that does a great job of helping you transition. It’s just made of really potent herbs and spices and my favorite flavor is the original. It’s also MSG fee.
If you know you can’t resist driving by your favorite fast food joint at first, then don’t! Don’t tempt yourself. Take another route so you don’t risk driving by right when they’re cooking something and the scent is dispersed through the air, causing you to smell it and crave it. If you know there’s a place at the mall you can’t turn down, then don’t go near it. Do whatever it takes in the beginning to avoid the places that tempt you most.
If you’re out with a friend who wants something from your favorite fast food joint, or perhaps you’re just addicted to Starbucks, try choosing something healthy to drink and bring your own snack with you. For instance, order water with lemon at fast food joints, or even plain coffee that you can sweeten with stevia. At Starbucks, opt for their skinny versions of drinks, which you can get for any drink off their menu. They have no added sugar in the skinny versions, and if you get non-fat milk, you’re set to go! The Skinny Mocha is my personal favorite! Or, be really healthy and order some green tea and add some stevia if you want it sweet. I always keep healthy snacks with me in my purse too like almonds, baby carrots, homemade energy bites or bars, or Larabars. They’re easy to pull out and you can munch on something healthy while your friend orders something else.
My favorite trick for success in the beginning was my calendar. Every night before I went to bed, I made a slash through the day on the calendar if I made it through the day without reverting to my unhealthy habits. After a week of solid success, I knew I didn’t want to mess up at all. I believed in myself and had a visual to prove I could do it. Before I knew it, two months had passed with consistent slashes and I never had to use the calendar again. This is similar to a food journal, but helped me be less focused on writing everything down, and just concentrating on making it another day without eating unhealthy. I didn’t want anything too rigid, just something that would influence me to keep going. The calendar trick worked! Knowing you have to go to bed every night and either mark through the day or start all over was a real motivator in times of the worst temptations.
I know having a fast food addiction is real, and our country markets to people who have them. We’re told it’s normal, while we’re the most obese nation on the planet. That’s not normal if you ask me, nor is food laced with chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, MSG and who knows what else. Stop your fast food addiction now, and don’t let society in this country tell you it’s normal. It’s not, and your body is trying to tell you that. Have you ever gave up a fast food addiction? What worked for you?
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