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Why do we crave unhealthy food? Part One

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

“Why do I crave unhealthy food?” This is a common question from individuals that attend my clinic who find it difficult at first to avoid unhealthy food. After time these cravings subside. Every once in a while it’s okay to have a treat food to enjoy but the issue with “junk food” is the amount of salt, sugar, fat and additives they hold. Additives are the main reason that we crave junk food so much. Research and practice have shown that the less unhealthy food you eat, the less you crave it. Try some of these tips to help reduce junk eating:

  1. The rule of three

We eat with our eyes, and the aesthetic of food is important to our enjoyment of that food. Studies have shown that meals are more attractive when there are three different food items and three different colours on the plate. Try and include 2-3 different coloured vegetables on your plate at dinner time or brighten up your porridge in the morning with berries. The bright colours make foods more attractive to us, as well as being full of nutrition. Textures are also important, try and include crunchy vegetables (cooked el dante) with tender meat like chicken or fish and some soft carbohydrates like rice or pasta. All these different textures encourage us to eat healthy. 


  1. Break the habit

The majority of the time unhealthy eating is down to laziness, lack of nutritional education and habit. Generally, unhealthy food is convenient, taking little or no time to prepare and can contain a lot of additives. In order to reduce eating unhealthy foods you need to first break the habit. If you associate a certain time of the day with an unhealthy food then you need to break this habit, for example, chocolate when you get home from work every day can be replaced by an apple or yoghurt instead. Break the habit altogether or replace the food with something more nutritious.


  1. More does not mean merrier

If a food has more than five or six ingredients then chances are it is highly processed which should ring alarm bells for you to avoid it. If you do buy it, it should be considered a treat food and only eaten in moderation, this will help you curb impulse purchases.


Whelehans Nutrition Service

Whelehans nutritional service is a private one to one advice service with our nutritionist Aisling Murray. Aisling’s areas of interest include weight loss management, nutrition education and food intolerance. Our nutrition service offers you the chance to change your life in a positive way by focusing on your overall wellbeing as well as the chance to follow up on your progress.

To be week


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