Transitioning from junk food to healthy food (almost) painlessly

From junk food queen to healthy and lean, we show you how to make the transition (almost) painless!

Let’s not lie to ourselves: junk food is delicious. In moderation, it’s also absolutely compatible with a healthy lifestyle, but it’s way too easy to fall into the trap of eating junk food on a regular basis because it’s both tasty and convenient, and we are all so busy nowadays. No matter how tasty junk is though, there are undeniable benefits to switching to a healthier eating lifestyle– better skin, more energy, a leaner body, better sleep, better mood, just to name a few!

So how to make the switch without feeling deprived? Here are a few ideas:

KISS – KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID!

Many eating plans fail because they are just so damn complicated. Anything that requires eating specific things at specific, strict times, that requires extensive preparation, hard to find ingredients or difficult periods of fasting might work ok in the short term but it will be really, really hard to stick to for any considerable length of time and when you fall off the wagon, you’ll fall HARD!

Get a diet plan from a reputable nutritionist, or follow something simple, easy and wholesome like the Mediterranean diet. Personally I like Micheal Pollan’s mantra: Eat real food. Mostly plants.

It really is that simple.

BABY STEPS

Change one habit at a time. It can be tempting to dive right in and cut all sugars, red meat, saturated fat, soda, alcohol, dairy and god knows what else from your diet in a bid to be healthy, and to add a gruelling exercise regime to top it all off. This very rarely works. Humans are creatures of habit, and the psyche rebels against changing too much at once. Instead, try changing one thing at a time – for example, cutting out soda – and keeping that up for a few weeks. Once that becomes easier, choose a second healthy habit to adopt and so on. Little by little you will find yourself adopting a healthy lifestyle in a way that seems like second nature.

SUBSTITUTION, MODERATION

If I tell you not to think about rainbow unicorns, I can bet you will start to think about rainbow unicorns even if they had never once crossed your mind before. One of the reasons diet plans fail is that we try to deprive ourselves of our favourite foods, declaring them “bad” and banning them from our diets. All this does is make us want them more, make us think about them and crave them. The solution? Either substitute for similar “healthy” alternatives, or allow yourself a small amount of the food you are craving every now and again.

The key is portion control – it’s much easier to keep portions down if you don’t let cravings get out of control in the first place.

EXERCISE

Hang on, you say, this is about healthy eating, not exercise! True, but taking up a sport can make you think twice before picking up that donut. You quickly notice a difference in how you feel during training depending on what you ate that day, and desire to improve performance (or just to avoid pain!) soon pushes you to eat more mindfully on days you work out.

Switching to a healthier eating plan doesn’t have to be painful – in fact it should make you feel unstoppable, not deprived! Remember, it’s a lifestyle not a diet, and if you fall off the wagon then dust yourself off and get right back on again. We all have moments where we eat too much ice-cream or drink too much wine, but those moments don’t define you. You can do it!

Written by Paula Clarke

Paula Clarke
Paula Clarke

Paula is a Scottish expat living in Italy. Between her work as a marketing coordinator and consultant she runs marathons (slowly) and enjoys cooking, travelling, photography and art.

5 Comments
  1. Excellent advice! Very true about removing one bad habit at a time until it is completely normal for you, I did this about 2 years ago and never looked back. I’m now two stone lighter, not smoking, not addicted to caffeine, less sickly and pizza is a rare treat!

  2. Looks yummy and the tips you provided simple by so valuable. I’m transitioning to partial vegan/gluten free lifestyle and I sometimes overthink meal planning that I end up messing up bug time. I have to remember to take baby steps.

  3. These strict diet never works ! I know that from experience 🙂 workout is just an amazing way to be stronger not only physically but mentally also. I use to hate it because it was all about weight loss but now that my mindset changed I really enjoy it

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