For instance, when your stress levels skyrocket, so does your need for potato chips. Research suggests that downing salty foods can decrease the amount of cortisol — a stress-producing hormone — in your body. At the same time, the feel-good hormone oxytocin increases, making you feel better after you indulge.
Sugar addiction is real, too. One study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating lots of the sweet stuff can stimulate regions in your brain associated with other addictions, like gambling or drug abuse.
Your move, then, is to nix these vices from your diet, so you can make room for the good stuff. Yes, snapping bad habits is hard—if you do it cold turkey. So ease in. Follow these steps, spending a week on each, and you’ll move from hellish to healthy.
Step 1: Shrink!
Give up the big bags and buy 1.5-ounce snack bags, says Scott Isaacs, M.D., author of Beat Overeating Now! Most mini bags have about 200 calories.
Step 2: Flip the Chip
Rhythm Superfoods Kool Ranch Kale Chips have the same calories per ounce as Nacho Cheese Doritos, but they also have 4 grams of gut-filling fiber.
Step 3: Add Crunch
Carrots, celery, radishes, and jicama can satisfy the lunch crunch you love with almost no calories. Sprinkle them with sea salt if you need it.
8 Foods to Help You Eat Healthy On a Budget:
Step 1: Dial Back
Start by cutting down your usual intake. If you have two sodas a day, limit yourself to just one. This will help you gradually ease up on the sugar cravings.
Step 2: Re-Fizz
Artificial sweeteners in diet soda still make you want sugar, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D., of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Go for flavored seltzer.
Step 3: Add Fruit
Switch to plain seltzer and squeeze in some lemon, lime, or grapefruit for vitamin C, says Valerie Goldstein, R.D., coauthor of The Stubborn Fat Fix.
Step 1: Set a Limit
First, sit down and assess your alcohol intake. Then aim for or below the National Institutes of Health’s “moderate” level: two drinks a day, max.
Step 2: Pass the Bar
A typical restaurant beer glass holds 16 ounces. A can of beer is 12 ounces. Imbibe only at home to hold the line on the calories you’re drinking.
Step 3: Save It
Now cut out weekday drinks and have two, max, once the workweek is over. Then alcohol becomes a treat. Stop completely if it makes you happy.
Related: This Is Your Body On Booze
Step 1: Don’t Pump
Avoid any flavoring that probably comes from a shelf-stable bottle. These add-ins are most likely sugar-based and ratchet up the calorie count.
Step 2: Go Whole
Yes, whole milk has more calories than skim, but the fat will help you move away from the richness of indulgent coffees, says Goldstein.
Step 3: Joe It Alone
Switch to straight-up coffee—you’ll learn to love it. (Add some cinnamon or nutmeg if you want.) Or drink mellower green, black, or oolong tea.