How I Ditched Junk Food with the Mediterranean Diet

If you have become addicted to junk food, fast food, foods fried in unhealthy fats and full of empty calories– you are not alone. I’ve been there. Unfortunately, unhealthy eating is a way of life for a lot of us. One of the hardest parts of restructuring your diet is eliminating the junk food addiction.

Developing better habits takes patience and effort. I found the answer in eating a healthy Mediterranean diet. I learned that there are many options for replacing worthless foods with healthy, nourishing ones that do a better job of managing hunger.

The Insulin Trap

There are several triggers that may cause us to reach for unhealthy snacks. A common one is the low-quality carbs craving. These carbs can spike blood sugar quickly, causing a large release of insulin. As the insulin does its job, glucose levels can drop quickly; this triggers carbohydrate cravings. It becomes a vicious circle that leaves you wanting more and more snacks. Over time, the overload of insulin can tax the pancreas and diabetes may eventually develop.

A Superior Solution

The Mediterranean way of snacking can reduce the chances of this scenario quite dramatically. If you reach for a snack like fresh fruit instead of fruit-flavored cookies, you are getting a slower release of carbohydrates and a filling dose of natural fiber. Most importantly, you are getting food that your body needs.

Fruits contain powerful antioxidants. They help prevent heart disease and other chronic diseases by reducing inflammation. If you crave salty, crunchy snacks, eat a small amount of nuts. I keep a few in my purse for emergencies like having to walk past an evil vending machine at work.

Hunger Prevention Strategies

Another trigger for snacking is genuine hunger. If you have recently reduced the amount of food you are eating in order to lose weight, it may take time for your body to adjust. This was a big challenge for me when I first started the diet. The best way to reduce hunger between meals is to eat slow digesting foods, like complex carbohydrates.

These are the “good carbs” we’ve all heard about. They include whole-wheat pastas, brown rice, beans and fiber-rich grain products. Incorporating these and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables into your meals will make you feel fuller, and the feeling will last longer. I found that following my meal with a little red wine helps curb sweet cravings while providing heart-healthy benefits.

Taste Buds Survive Junk Food De-tox

It can be difficult to make major changes in your diet. The good news is that even when you get accustomed to eating junk food and can’t imagine ever not wanting it, your tastes will readjust after eating healthier foods for a while. It may happen more quickly than you expect.

Just as bad habits can form, so can good habits. If you’ve been eating junk food for years, you have been missing out on some of the finest flavors nature has to offer. Rediscover them like I did and live longer and healthier as a bonus.