5 ways to overcome fast food addiction

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5 ways to overcome fast food addiction
5 ways to overcome fast food addiction

Fast food has become a staple in many people's diets. The recent controversy over how unhealthy it is has led many people to start looking for effective ways to kick these eating habits and make healthier options. Regardless of your reasons for choosing fast food, it's important to understand that you can kick this habit. Following these steps can help you decrease your consumption of fast food and can guide you towards a healthier way of eating.


Method 1 of 5: Understanding Food Addiction

Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 1
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 1

Step 1. Get resources on food addiction

If you really feel like you have a food addiction, it will help to fully understand what this addiction is and how it affects your life.

  • Addiction can be a serious problem. Foods high in sugar and fat are extremely appetizing. When you eat them, they activate the release of dopamine into the brain's mesolimbic pathway. This triggers the desire to eat more of that food and return to it.
  • People with binge eating disorders feel a compulsion to eat unusually large amounts of food in a short period of time. They may dislike their eating habits but be unable to control them. If you feel compelled to eat large amounts of fast food, even if you feel unwell after doing so, consider consulting a healthcare professional about the possibility of binge-eating disorder. It is very treatable.
  • Spend some time researching food addiction online. There are a variety of sources online that could help you learn more about your eating habits.
  • Buy or check out a book on food addiction. Spend some time reading it and researching food addictions.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 2
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 2

Step 2. Write down your problems with food

Seeing your problems with food addiction in writing can make them more real to you. Include how often you eat fast food, your feelings or cravings for fast food, and how difficult you think it will be to give up.

  • To help you understand the severity of your food addiction, ask yourself if you feel helpless in the presence of fast food or what emotions or situations make you crave it.
  • Also rate your addiction feelings from 1 to 10 (1 being weak and 10 immensely strong). The rating may change with your emotions, but it can give you insights into the moments, events, or people that influence the rating.
  • Write down all the specific types of food that you are addicted to. Is it just fast food? Or does your addiction include "junk foods" like candy, potato chips, or soda?
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 3
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 3

Step 3. Make a lifestyle change instead of going on a diet

Diets in the traditional sense are not sustainable long-term plans, especially for a food addiction.

  • People give up, stop buying diet products, or get bored and stop. Aim to make a lifestyle change around your food addiction and not just go on a diet.
  • Make an eating plan that doesn't include fast food or junk food. Make sure to plan appropriate portion and snack sizes so that you don't feel too hungry at any time of the day.
  • Eliminate "trigger" foods from your home if your addiction includes other types of junk food in addition to fast food. If you continue to eat a lot of fats and sugars (key ingredients in fast food) at home, it will be more difficult to kick your addiction to fast food.

Method 2 of 5: Eliminate Fast Food

Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 4
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 4

Step 1. Pack healthy meals and snacks

Having a healthy meal or snack at your disposal is a great way to cut down on the amount of fast food you eat. Instead of going out to eat, you already have your healthy food ready.

  • Buy a small lunch box or cooler if necessary. This is a great way to avoid stopping at a fast food joint. Keeping this lunch box full of healthy options, like yogurt, fresh fruits, or carrots with hummus, can help you stick to your planned meals or control your hunger until you can get home to eat.
  • Keep healthy and convenient snacks in your purse, briefcase, or car, like nuts or chunks of fruit.
  • Make sure you eat throughout the day. Don't skip meals. Eat a healthy snack if you are hungry. When you are very hungry, you are more likely to make poor food choices.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 5
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 5

Step 2. Stop drinking soda

For many people, this can turn out to be the biggest challenge. Try to avoid all sodas. You should even minimize your consumption of diet sodas. These can confuse your body and make you hungry when you don't have to eat.

  • Aim for 64 ounces (1.8 liters) of clear, sugar-free liquids daily. You can try water, water flavored with herbs and fruit, unsweetened iced tea, or unsweetened decaffeinated coffee.
  • If this step is difficult for you, start slowly. Start by reducing the amount of soda you consume by replacing a few drinks here and there with a healthier option (like water or unsweetened tea). Keep replacing the sodas with other drinks until you can eliminate them completely.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 6
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 6

Step 3. Drive a different route

Sometimes just stopping by (or knowing you will be stopping by) your favorite fast food joint is enough to make you stop. Driving a different route to work or home can help you break out of the routine of stopping for fast food.

  • Consult an online map. Many programs allow you to enter your starting location and destination and give you a variety of route options.
  • If you can't avoid stopping by a fast food joint, try leaving a note in your car with an upbeat prayer. "You can!" or "Focus on your goal!" They are very good phrases that can keep you driving without stopping you.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 7
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 7

Step 4. Write down the benefits of eliminating fast food

Giving up fast food may not be easy. However, having a list of positive thoughts to review when you have a strong craving can be a useful resource to help you overcome the urge to stop at a fast food joint.

  • Take an hour (this can be a part of your journaling exercises) to list all the benefits of giving up fast food. Positive thoughts can include losing weight, saving money, increasing energy, or better health.
  • Keep a copy of your positive thoughts in your purse or wallet, your car, or your work. Check it out when you have a fast food craving.
  • As you continue to stay away from fast food, write about your progress and add any positive aspects you have noticed about your lifestyle, your health, and your diet. This will help you expand the list.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 8
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 8

Step 5. Go to healthier restaurants

Eating out is a common activity at work. It allows you to take a break and enjoy 30-60 minutes away from your desk. If you and your colleagues normally go to a fast food restaurant, suggest something healthier.

  • Research restaurants that are close to your workplace. Review their menus and see if they would be a better option for you and your colleagues.
  • Let your colleagues know that you are trying to kick your fast food habit. You never know and they might come together. Letting people around you know your goals allows them to support you instead of being a bad influence.
  • Agree to go out for lunch only once a week. If your friends aren't willing to compromise on lunch options, only go out once a week. This can help minimize your temptations.

Method 3 of 5: Plan a Strategy

Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 9
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 9

Step 1. Write down realistic goals

Setting yourself a long-term goal that you can work toward can help you kick your fast food habit. Make sure you set yourself a realistic and specific goal that you can achieve over time.

  • Set smaller goals on the way to your long-term goal. You can start by stopping stopping at a fast food joint on Mondays or planning to eat breakfast at home. Trying to tackle multiple goals at once can be difficult.
  • It is important to be realistic when setting your goals. If you feel like never eating fast food again is unrealistic, set a limit on how much you can eat. Maybe you can afford fast food once a month.
  • Monitor the progress of your goal over time. This can help motivate you and keep you on track toward your long-term goal.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 10
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 10

Step 2. Buy a journal or notebook

Use the journal to keep track of your meals and snacks for a few days (ideally a few days a week and a few weekends). This will give you insights on how much and how often you eat fast food.

  • Also take note of the situations that cause you to choose fast food most often. For example, are you going to a fast food joint for breakfast on the way to work? Or do you have a long commute home from work and stop for a quick and easy dinner?
  • Take note of any moods or emotions that may cause you to eat or have fast food cravings. You may notice that you don't eat fast food for several days. It can happen more often when you are stressed, angry, or frustrated. Understanding the connection between food and your mood can help give you insight into your fast food habits.
  • Don't have time to write in a journal? Download a food diary app to get an on-the-go version of your diary. Having the app accessible on your cell phone can make it a bit easier for you.
  • Think about why you stop to buy fast food. Trying to identify the underlying cause of your fast food addiction is an important step in kicking the habit.
  • Take note of how you feel after consuming fast food. You may feel sorry, guilty, or ashamed. If you notice negative feelings and write them down, you can refer to them in the future before deciding to eat fast food. Remembering how bad you feel after eating it can help you avoid it.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 11
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 11

Step 3. Count the calories

If you have not taken into account the calories you consume with fast food, you will be surprised how much you actually consume. Take a day to calculate all the calories in a regular fast food. The amount may be enough to give you the motivation to quit.

  • Try calculating how much you would have to run or bike to burn those calories. It usually takes a considerable amount of exercise to burn off the calories from a fast meal. For example, you have to ride your bike for a full hour at high speed to burn about 800 calories, which is half a pizza.
  • Compare the calories in fast food with those in similar foods that you could make at home. This will help you figure out how many extra calories you are getting from fast food.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 12
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 12

Step 4. Monitor the costs of your fast food habit

One of the benefits of fast food is that it can be quite cheap, especially with items on the menu that are worth $ 1.00 or less. However, even with these low prices, the cost can add up.

  • Keep your receipts and add up how much money you spend in a week. It could be more than you think.
  • Allow yourself between $ 10 and $ 20 in cash (or the equivalent) and see how long they last in a week. It's easy to pay with a credit or debit card. It's harder to get rid of cash.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 13
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 13

Step 5. Make a weekly meal plan

Having a set meal plan can help keep you organized and focused throughout the week. You will not wonder what to do for dinner or take lunch to work because it will already be determined.

  • Take an hour or two during your free time to make your meal plan. Make sure to include breakfast and snacks for each day.
  • Consider including quick and easy recipes or meal ideas to help with your busy lifestyle.
  • After finishing your meal plan, make the corresponding shopping list. You can buy only what you need.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 14
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 14

Step 6. Go shopping at the supermarket

Having healthy foods on hand is key to ditching fast food. Buy meals and snacks weekly so you always have another healthier option ready.

  • Stock up on lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.
  • Buy ready-to-eat products that require very little preparation and can be eaten on the go. Examples include whole fruits (like an apple or banana), individual yogurts, washed and cut salads or vegetables, or precooked lean proteins (like grilled chicken strips).

Method 4 of 5: Implement Coping Strategies

Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 15
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 15

Step 1. Develop a support network

Any change in your diet can be difficult, especially if you are going to kick a habit that feels like a food addiction. Having a support group can help motivate and stimulate you as you make difficult changes. Studies have shown that many people stick with positive changes longer if they have a support group.

  • Ask family members, friends, or colleagues for support. Plus, you can see if anyone would like to join your fast food ditching journey.
  • Research support groups and online forums that you can access throughout the day. It's a great way to have support at any time of the day.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 16
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 16

Step 2. Talk to a licensed nutritionist and therapist

These health and nutrition experts can play a key role in helping you understand and overcome your fast food habit. They are trained to help you kick the habit and plan healthier meals as well as provide you with coping mechanisms to deal with your food addiction.

  • Ask a nutritionist for help with meal planning, cooking skills, or basic nutrition knowledge so that you have the skills to kick the habit.
  • Discuss your food addiction and any emotionally-motivated eating problems with a licensed therapist.
  • Check with your GP or other doctor for a recommendation from a licensed nutritionist or therapist. They may meet or work locally with someone.
  • If you live in the US, take a look at EatRight.org and use the "Find an Expert" button to search for nutritionists in your area.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 17
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 17

Step 3. Make a list of calming activities

When you're stressed or have a strong fast food craving, it's important to have a list of activities that you can do to distract and calm yourself. Have this list handy when you have a craving.

  • Try doing things physically and mentally active (for example, taking a walk, cleaning your drawers, calling a friend or family member, keeping a journal, or reading a good book).
  • Sleeping longer or immersing yourself in a TV show might not make you feel better. That way you don't tackle the problem. Instead, you ignore it or sleep to forget it.
  • Try to avoid alcoholic beverages. Drinking alcohol is never an appropriate coping mechanism for addiction.
  • Write down your feelings. Take your notebook or journal and write down your feelings and how they affect your cravings or feelings of hunger.
  • Keeping a journal can help you clearly identify your situation and spot the difference between emotional eating and physical hunger.
  • A journal can also act as a mental release that allows you to put all your emotions and feelings on paper.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 18
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 18

Step 4. Meditate

Studies have shown that even a few minutes of meditation can calm your mind and help you feel more centered and overcome your addiction. This can be an easy way to help relax your mind.

  • Start with as little as 5-10 minutes a day, especially if you've never tried meditation before.
  • Search online for free guided meditations with audio. These can help you start your meditation slowly by following the gentle commands of a guide.
  • Try active meditation, which helps you focus on a small object (a stone, a fruit, or a jewel). This can help give your mind something to occupy itself with while you try to stay present.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 19
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 19

Step 5. Stock your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer with healthy foods

Always keep a large number of healthy products at home. This will allow you to cook nutritious meals without having to stop at the grocery store on the way home.

  • Having your home well stocked can help relieve stress around cooking or having food on the table as you will be prepared with the basics of a meal.
  • Pantry essentials include beans, canned vegetables without added salt, canned fish, whole grains (such as whole grain rice or pasta), and nuts.
  • Freezer essentials include frozen proteins (such as chicken or fish), frozen vegetables and fruits, frozen cooked wholegrain products (such as brown rice or quinoa), and low-calorie frozen meals (for an overnight stay). cooking is not an option).
  • Refrigerator essentials may include washed and cut fruits and vegetables, low-fat dressings and sauces, low-fat eggs, yogurt, and cheese, and cooked proteins (such as grilled chicken breast).
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 20
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 20

Step 6. Prepare new recipes

Whether you're stuck over what recipes to make or need help coming up with healthy meals, trying new recipes is a great way to explore different healthy foods. Try one or two new recipes every week.

  • Do you need recipe ideas? Try buying a healthy cookbook, searching for healthy food blogs online, or asking your friends and family for new recipes to try.
  • If you're short on time, look for recipes that have minimal cooking and prep time. Many times, you can simply assemble your food instead of preparing everything from scratch.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 21
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 21

Step 7. Recreate your favorite fast foods at home

Burgers and fries or chicken nuggets are delicious, which is why it's so hard to kick the habit. Try to prepare your favorite foods at home with healthier cooking techniques. This will help you "indulge yourself" but with a much healthier option.

  • If you love French fries, try baking them at home. Sweet potato slices are a great alternative to French fries. In addition, they have many vitamins and minerals.
  • Bread the chicken with corn flakes or ground crackers and bake for a lower calorie version of fried chicken or chicken nuggets.
  • Research some recipes for your favorite foods online. You'll find great ideas and a variety of recipes for healthier versions of common fast foods. Try searching for "fast food exchanges" for your favorite fast food options.

Method 5 of 5: Eat healthy at fast food restaurants

Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 22
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 22

Step 1. Read the menus online

Any restaurant that has more than 20 locations legally must have an online menu and an on-site menu that contains all of the nutritional information. Check out the menu options that are lower in calories and fat.

  • Plan your options before eating out. This will help prevent you from being tempted by browsing the menu or hearing what others will be ordering.
  • Some locations even have "meal calculators" that allow you to choose different options for your food and provide you with calories and other nutritional information.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 23
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 23

Step 2. Choose grilled options over fried options

Fried foods usually contain more calories and fat compared to grilled products.

Opt for a grilled chicken sandwich or grilled chicken nuggets instead of fried chicken

Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 24
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 24

Step 3. Avoid combo meals

The calorie count can be quite high when you order a combo meal (fries, a sandwich, and a drink). Just buy the sandwich instead to cut the calorie count.

  • Choose items from the "a la carte" menu (one after the other) to avoid the option of a combo meal.
  • Decline the option to enlarge the combo or upgrade to a larger portion.
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 25
Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food Step 25

Step 4. Buy a healthier option

Many fast food restaurants have responded to consumer desires for healthier options. They even have special "healthy" menus that can guide you to a lower calorie meal.

  • Try a grilled chicken salad or a grilled chicken wrap. Use a small portion of low-calorie dressing or sauce to help reduce the number of calories you consume.
  • If you're stopping for breakfast, try oatmeal, yogurt with fruit, or a sandwich with egg white and cheese.
  • Choose a sandwich that has a fruit garnish or a vegetable garnish instead of the typical French fries.


  • Slowly eliminating one unhealthy meal at a time is a gentle way to start eliminating junk food from your diet. Slamming all the unhealthy items out of your diet can lead to unpleasant symptoms, such as headaches and irritability, and make you less likely to stick to your plan.
  • Consider setting rules for yourself that make fast food less convenient. For example, if your favorite fast food outlet is far away, only allow yourself to buy food by walking there instead of driving. Not only will you get a healthy walk if you end up succumbing to the craving but this will also make cooking your own food seem easier than the fast and greasy alternative.
  • Associating numbers with your habit of consuming fast food can make it easier for you to assimilate reality. Estimate or monitor how much money you spend and how many calories you consume each week or month with fast food. You'll be surprised.
  • Make the switch quickly, one step at a time (for example, start by avoiding a mall food court at lunchtime or avoiding snacks between meals). Make small but real changes and then move on to something more ambitious. Remember that you want this to be a whole new lifestyle.
  • If you and your friends are addicted to fast food, you can all quit together. In this way, you will have less temptation than if your friends eat hamburgers in front of you.
  • Look for groups or networks of healthy people to surround yourself with to support you through this important stage of your life.
  • The Eat This, Not That books compare fast food options and recommend the ones that are "best" for you.

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