Should You Completely Avoid Junk Food?

Medically Reviewed on 8/10/2022
Should You Completely Avoid Junk Food?
Junk foods, such as sodas, chips, French fries, candies, and cakes, must be avoided or eaten in a small amount.

Although junk foods are known for their immense potential to harm your health, complete abstinence from these foods may not be a practical approach. Instead of giving up eating all junk foods, it is advisable to limit their intake. Thus, an occasional cheat day is okay.

Hence, you do not need to completely avoid junk foods because this:

  • Is not sustainable.
  • Is not a practical approach.
  • Can lead to eating disorders.
  • Can cause harm to your mental health.
  • Can cause a problem with socializing including interactions at work.
  • Causes lethargy.
  • Can lead to dental caries.
  • May end with more bingeing and consequent health issues.

What are the dangers and side effects of a restrictive diet?

Complete or strict avoidance of any food group, including junk foods, can harm your mental or physical health. A restrictive and strict dietary pattern can lead to anxiety and eating disorders. It may leave you constantly worried about avoiding these foods at all costs. 

Because junk foods are almost everywhere, from grocery stores to social gatherings, you may not be able to avoid them completely.

An obsessive desire to avoid such foods may make you avoid socializing. This again can leave you depressed or unhappy. Moreover, studies suggest that complete avoidance of food groups may help you improve your health or lose some weight on a short-term basis, but in the long run, you may end up bingeing more.

This compensatory eating may do more harm than eating these foods in moderation.

What are the harmful effects of junk foods?

Junk foods contain a lot of calories and a negligible amount of nutrients. They are loaded with ingredients such as sugars, saturated fats, and salt. They may contain harmful additives or byproducts that may emerge during their processing or cooking.

Junk foods, such as sodas, chips, French fries, candies, and cakes, must be avoided or eaten in a small amount (probably only one or two times a week in limited quantities).

Some of the downsides of junk foods include:

  • A higher risk of being overweight or obese
  • An increased incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain types of cancer
  • Addictive
  • Nutritional deficiencies due to avoidance of nutrient-rich foods for junk foods
  • Eating disorders
  • Little satiety


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

How to avoid binging on junk foods

Now when we know that junk foods are harmful and avoiding them completely may not be a safe approach either, it is important to know how to limit your junk food consumption.

  1. Know what is junk: The first step toward avoiding junk foods is knowing that all foods contain hidden sugars and fats and are high in calories. Although we all know that a fried patty or doughnut is not healthy, many seemingly healthy foods may be junk as well.
    • This includes:
      • Fruit juices with added sugar
      • Whole-grain cakes and pastries
      • Gluten-free snacks such as ice creams, chocolates, or fries
      • Grain-free fried snacks and sweets
  2. Replace junk food with healthier options: The best defense against unhealthy eating is preparedness. Keep healthy snacks handy if you wish to avoid eating unhealthy foods.
    • Some of the examples of healthy snacking and meal options include:
      • Nuts and berries
      • Grilled or steamed vegetables
      • Salads without sugary or fatty dressings
      • Skimmed milk and granola
      • Oatmeal
      • Whole-grain crackers
      • Fruits 
      • Grilled fish, tofu, or lean meat
      • Boiled eggs
  3. Stay hydrated: Water is essential for keeping cravings under control. Drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day helps you stay full and hydrated. Several studies suggest that including sufficient water along with fiber-rich foods such as vegetables and fruits helps reduce cravings and overeating.
  4. Store your snacks intelligently: They say that out of sight is out of mind. If you need to keep some junk food at home, keep it in places where you are less likely to see them frequently. Thus, you may keep the bag of chips in a cabinet higher up in your kitchen rather than on your dining table. Similarly, keep the chocolates inside the main body of the refrigerator behind milk or bread rather than right in front or at the door of the refrigerator. Moreover, keep healthy snacks such as fruits and salads handy. Keep them where you are more likely to see them so that you prefer eating them when hungry.
  5. Know your triggers: Unhealthy foods are often preferred in situations such as stress, anxiety, or feeling low or depressed. Many people tend to eat junk food when they are bored or angry. Thus, knowing your triggers will help you practice mindful eating and avoid cravings.
  6. Seek professional help when needed: Do not feel bad if, despite all your efforts, you cannot stop having a lot of junk food. You may take the help of a qualified mental health professional to get rid of your unhealthy eating choices.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/10/2022
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