Avoiding Junk Food Without Being Miserable

Oh, junk food, you amazing, terrible thing…

I have never had the determination to eat as healthy as I would like, but I do try to at least pretend to be healthy. The problem is, getting your own apartment is a lot like going off to college for the first time–the freedom to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, tends to make people go a little crazy with power. Here are four tips to try to offset some of the junk food madness you may face during your first months in your new apartment.

Buy foods you’re excited to eat.

The best grocery shopping tip I’ve ever received came from this MFA post, so I wanted to reiterate it here. Don’t buy foods because you think you should eat them, buy foods because you want to eat them. This doesn’t mean you should only buy Lunchables and Ramen because those are your favorite things; it means that you should make sure to include a package or two of Ramen to mix with that week’s veggies.

If you have foods you’re excited about, even if it’s just a microwaveable pizza, you’re a lot less likely to want to supplement each meal with a box of Cheez-Its or a tub of ice-cream.

Don’t forbid junk food.

When I first moved into my new apartment, I figured, new place, new me. I would start eating healthy, and finally lose that freshman fifteen (and the sophomore several more, and the junior junk in the trunk, and the senior seventeen). My strategy was to only buy healthy, meal-making foods. No snacks, no junk food. I figured, if I just didn’t keep it in the house, I wouldn’t be able to indulge, and I would have to cut out my snacking habit, whether I wanted to or not.

This plan worked really well. For about three weeks, anyway. Then, one evening, desperate for sugar and grease, I ran into the grocery store and bought $30 dollars worth of potato chips, cookies, and chocolate bars. I ended up spending way more money and eating way less healthy than I would have if I had simply been allowing myself the junk food in the first place.

The moral here is: moderation. Don’t set outrageous limits for yourself. Instead, allow yourself your vices, but remember that they are vices and keep them under control.

Set realistic limits.

After the night I splurged on the things I was craving, I developed a much more reasonable plan for myself. I am allowed $5 a week to spend of junk food and treats. Whether this means that I get to buy 5 bags of dollar store potato chips or a single box of Fudge Pops, I get to have treats in my life without going overboard. Usually, I use my budget to buy a can of Pringles and a box of cookies from the dollar store. This only comes to about $2.50, so if I find myself going crazy for a chocolate bar later in the week, I still have some funds left. But $5 is my limit, and I don’t go over it. If I pig out on Monday night and have no snacks left for the rest of the week, well, that’s a learning experience, and I’ll have to do better next week.

Portion your snacks.

The easiest way to make sure that you don’t accidentally eat a whole bag of chips in one sitting is to make sure that the whole bag isn’t sitting right next to you, waiting to be devoured. Stop eating junk food directly out of the container it came in, and actually pour your servings onto a plate or bowl, then seal that chip bag back up and put it away. If there’s less junk food sitting in front of you, you’re going to eat less. Sure, you can always just get up and pour yourself another bowl-full, but the act of having to get up to do so will hopefully be a deterrent of its own. At the very least, actually seeing the amount of food you’re eating will help you be more aware of how quickly you’re going through that bag of chips.

What is your trick for cutting back on your snack habit? Please share in the comments below!

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Author My First Apartment

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Taylor LaSon is a recent Hamilton College graduate who is currently living in Memphis while seeking her Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology. She and her cat prefer a quiet, introverted lifestyle full of Netflix binges and arts and crafts, but when she does go out, she enjoys rock climbing and making silly faces at small children.

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Comments (2)

  1. Sarah Sarah

    Love your advice on setting a dollar limit on snack or junk food! This helps quantify your goals and set strict limits while still giving freedom of choice that doesn’t feel as restrictive. I’d be curious if you could start to stretch that to $5 every two weeks or longer. Thanks for sharing!

    • Taylor Taylor

      I imagine people with more willpower than me could totally make that five dollars last two weeks, but on high-stress days, I find myself very glad for the buffer money so I can get myself some dark chocolate!