Kick the Junk Food Habit
How hard is it for a young active family that lives in the city with no farm in sight, to make a clean break and do a start over on their eating habits? Is it even possible in these days to kick the junk food habit? A mother decided to find out just that when she read the book “In Defense of Food” in 2010. Lisa Leake shares her journey and has become an internet sensation at www.100DaysofRealFood.com.
I thought our family was making fairly healthy choices, but as it turned out many of our foods were actually highly processed. Fruit snacks, fish crackers, boxed mac and cheese, factory-farmed meat, and white bread were all part of our weekly staples.
We spent the 100 days avoiding all white flour, white sugar, and anything out of a package with more than five ingredients.
Here are Lisa Leake’s nine lessons she teaches us to kick the junk food habit:
- Switching to a real food lifestyle may seem intimidating and even downright overwhelming at first, especially for the busiest of families, but I promise it is totally possible. Just like with any big change it takes some getting used to — and before long, avoiding processed food will eventually became your “new normal.” Simply getting started is key!
- Reading the ingredient list and not the beefed up Nutrition Facts is the only way to determine what’s in your food and how many additives it actually contains. If it’s not something you would cook with at home then I’d think again. As a rule stick with packaged foods with five or less whole ingredients that have nothing you can’t pronounce listed.
- At the beginning of our pledge my daughter had a meltdown over a forbidden doughnut. But a few weeks later, when standing for water at a concession stand full of candy bars and flavored potato chips, my daughter announced that she was hungry. I told her we needed to wait till we got home to eat. She spotted a bowl of bananas and said, “Can I have one of those?” At that point, I realized I was teaching my child to seek out the real food in our processed food world, an important life lesson.
- Since we decided to kick the junk food habit, I feel like I have more energy, and my husband and I even lost a few pounds. Our youngest daughter, who has mild asthma, experienced a dramatic improvement in her episodes of wheezing, and her constipation struggles practically disappeared overnight. And much to my surprise my good cholesterol (the number you want to be high) went up by 50 percent!
- If you don’t have a plan for your next snack or meal, then you may get caught off-guard with starving kids begging you for the drive-thru. So it’s important to always mentally think through your next meal and be prepared — whether that’s a variety of real food snacks in the car or your slow cooker cranking away at home with a yummy dinner.
- Eating real food doesn’t have to break the bank. With a little creativity, a real food lifestyle can be done without breaking the bank. Be sure to create and stick to a meal plan, minimize food waste, maximize cheap foods (like bananas, beans and pasta) and reduce the consumption of “nice to haves” like flavored beverages and dessert —– all these things can help save some money.
- It’s OK to break the rules (sometimes). We followed strict rules for 100 days, but now that our pledge is over we don’t mind indulging in junk food every now and then. But what I prefer is the made-from-scratch sweet treat kind of junk food as opposed to the artificial, factory-made stuff. And we feel that once a week is appropriate instead of after almost every meal (like the old days)!
- Real food simply tastes better. People may think we avoid fast food, junk food or other processed stuff because we have to, but honestly that food just doesn’t taste good to us anymore! We’ve basically retrained our taste buds and feel spoiled with fresh, wholesome and homemade meals now. The real thing just tastes so much better.
- Out of sight, out of mind. Avoid the temptation to scarf down a bag of deep-fried snacks or a bag of candy by keeping it out of the house. Same with convenience foods — I just don’t buy those things anymore. It’s hard to eat a bag of mini powdered doughnuts when they’re not there.
Utilizing these 9 tips can help any family start their own 100 day challenge. After all what do you have to lose and there is so much to be gained. Let’s pass this on to those we care about and make a difference!
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