Cheat days, or 1 day each week when you essentially eat any foods you want including junk food, are included in many people’s weight loss diet programs – however, this can be a big problem if they are starting their diet as a junk food addict.
I understand the cheat day concept, and also have a lot of respect for nutritionist Joel Marion, who includes cheat days in his fat burning program:
“The week begins with a Cheat Day to boost levels of your body’s primary fat burning hormone, leptin, and prime the body for optimal fat burning over the course of the next 7 days.
Eat liberally throughout the day without stuffing yourself. This is a critical part of the science of the program so do not skip it.”
However, I could not eat cookies, pizza, pasta, bread, and ice cream one day each week. I wouldn’t want those foods from a nutritional health standpoint.
But predominantly, I would be afraid to do it and what it might do to me ‘mentally’. I was the guy that Lay’s Potato Chips loves – I couldn’t eat just 1…or 2 or 3 or 4
I know how much trouble I got into originally from these foods – with the quantity and frequency I ate them, I could certainly understand if I had a junk food addiction.
I now have to count on my discipline and avoid these foods altogether, which I have done for the last 5 years.
So, on my cheat days I eat some extra calories and carbohydrates. I might eat protein pancakes, oatmeal and a sweet potato, along with 4 pieces of fruit – I know, real brave.
Below is an excellent article by XtendLife Natural Products that discusses junk food – in the context of what is does to your nutritional health, as well as how people can actually become junk food addicts.
Did you know that junk food and smoking are very similar? Although they differ in how they’re used, eating junk food and smoking are both highly addictive lifestyle choices
Tobacco companies around the world have been heavily fined for producing cigarettes and other tobacco products while knowing of the dangers they pose for the end user.
When it comes to junk food companies however, they continue to produce ‘food’ that is not only detrimental to your health in the long term, but the food itself is laden with addictive ingredients like sugar, sodium and trans fats…triggering the release of a ‘feel good’ hormone in the brain called dopamine.
Over time, some people may become addicted to this ‘feel good’ factor and crave the foods that triggered it in the first place. Like cocaine, nicotine and alcohol, some people believe that sugar is just as addictive.
Some people may argue that eating junk food is entirely up to the person, and that it’s his/her choice to constantly eat pizzas, hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, fried chicken and loads of other fast food options.
This argument does have some merits…although influencing a person’s decision-making abilities by adding excessive amounts of ingredients proven to contribute to one’s risk of becoming addicted is where the argument starts to break down.
Fast food companies use this addictive strategy in conjunction with various other issues that affect society on a daily basis. Stress, nutrient-deficient foods and other factors compound the problem as people tend to use junk food as a coping mechanism, therefore increasing their use as well as the risk of addiction.
As mentioned earlier, stress is one of the main reasons why people resort to junk food. When someone is stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released, which increases the amount of sugar in the blood to help increase the body’s production of energy.
Leptin (a hormone that plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure, including appetite and metabolism) and insulin also get blocked in times of stress which in turn makes you feel more hungry and prone to eating quick convenient meals that are packed with sodium, preservatives and additives.
Emotional eating is another contributing factor and occurs when a person resorts to junk food in order to help them cope with emotional distress. Unhappiness, rejection, a demanding work life, negative frame of mind, challenging circumstances, constant worry, fatigue, and depression may help trigger one’s psychological ‘need’ for comfort food in the form of trans fat laden take-out meals.
Another factor that can increase the risk of overeating is if you have not eaten certain foods for a long time then you are likely to develop a strong craving for them…especially junk food. A protein deficient diet can also set off cravings for this comfort food. Especially, if you are eating foods that are low in protein, and even more so if your breakfast lacks protein.
Furthermore, such cravings can also occur when your daily diet is lacking in essential nutrients and minerals.
It’s important to remember that many cravings are usually for meals containing high levels of sodium, sugar or fat. Instead of giving into junk food, you can easily opt for healthier foods. So swap the donuts for a plate of fresh fruit drizzled with natural honey.
Having some Mediterranean bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with fresh olives is a great alternative to a greasy burger. Fresh and wholesome foods that do not contain any artificial chemicals or harmful additives are a much better choice than junk food and these can easily stave off your food cravings.
One of the biggest weapons in the junk food arsenal is convenience. There are many establishments dishing up cheap, poor quality food that is quick and easy to prepare. If people don’t buy them from the local restaurant or take-away, they can easily buy their favorite ‘meal-in-a-box’ from their local supermarket.
In the 80s, cigarette brands were everywhere. The amount of advertisements seemed comparable with the amount of people smoking. These days, the same seems to be true with junk food brands. Some people have sub-consciously adopted the mindset that “if everyone else is doing it, it must be ok”.
Despite the sudden surge in food programs on TV and the popularity of celebrity chefs, the trend of trying to get more people cooking healthy nutritious meals for themselves hasn’t taken off…the line of cars and people queuing outside junk food franchises is only getting longer.
Cook your own meals from scratch by making the time to prepare them like previous ‘slimmer’ generations used to…with a few simple recipes and fresh ingredients.
Most of the time, junk food addiction is due to a lack of nutrients, minerals, amino acids and vitamins in your everyday diet. You can boost your body’s supply of these nutrients by eating a balanced diet and daily servings of fresh fruit and vegetables.
However due to modern farming methods, pesticides and other factors, the amount of nutrients & vitamins etc. in fresh produce is not what it used to be just a few decades ago. This means that in order to ensure your body is getting the optimum amount of the ingredients it needs to not only maintain healthy function but also reduce the risk of junk food addiction; you could consider taking supplements like Total Balance and Omega 3 DHA Fish Oil.
Having a healthy digestive system can also help your body absorb these nutrients while boosting the presence of good bacteria in your gut. You can help support the health of your digestive system by taking Kiwi-Klenz.
In a world filled with cheap, convenient, poor quality junk food, it’s difficult to completely avoid it. Like the tobacco industry, fast food companies know their product is bad for the public as well as even addictive for some people. By taking a stand and focusing on improving your health and well being through diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes, you could help inspire those around you to follow in your footsteps and become ‘addicted’ to healthy living instead.