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When it comes to convenient and budget-friendly meals, fast food often appears the most appealing option. While many know that fast food is unhealthy, people actually crave junk food. Though theories for these cravings are multifaceted, scientists point to an evolutionary perspective that suggests high-calorie foods feel crucial to human success. While a high-calorie meal helped support a larger brain and its functions in prehistoric times, for the majority of people, an excessive amount of calories is no longer helpful for development, and in fact, proves dangerous for consumer health.

As a result of this, it’s recommended people refrain from eating fast food too frequently. Due to these cravings, however, it’s often easier said than done. Here are some tips to help you cut out fast food for a healthier diet.

Set Boundaries

The first step to cutting out fast food is to determine foods that are off limit. If you frequent a local fast food chain, blacklist that chain until further notice. If you crave particular foods, set boundaries to ensure you don’t seek them out. Consider writing a tangible list to help you hold yourself accountable. If you have a weaker will, enlist the help of family members or friends to help you keep on course and ensure you don’t break the boundaries you had set up for yourself.

Meal Prep

Fast food meals are convenient, and after a long day at the office, it’s tempting to stop for fast food on the way home than cook your own meal. Consider meal prepping to create an alternative meal that is just as easy to reach for, but healthier. Make your meals on the weekend and either freeze or refrigerate until use later in the week.

If you don’t like the idea of cooking meals ahead of time and storing them for later use, create a comprehensive shopping guide that’ll account for all meals of the week. Go shopping on the weekend to stock up for the coming days. You will feel more inclined to stick to your meal plan if you have already gone out to the store to purchase all of the necessary ingredients. If you know you’re going to be having a particularly busy day during the week and won’t have the energy to cook an intensive meal, opt for easier recipes that can be thrown together in a few minutes, such as stir-frys or salads.

Healthier Alternatives

Arguably the most difficult part of refraining from eating fast food is dealing with the cravings. Instead of entirely cutting out cravings entirely, develop healthy alternatives. If you’re craving chicken, instead of going out to buy chicken nuggets, bread a chicken breast with breadcrumbs and bake it. Look into alternative french fry options, such as zucchini fries or cauliflower fries that you can also bake in the oven.

Stock Up on Snacking Alternatives

If you notice you’re craving fast food at 11 p.m. or other odd times during the night, consider reaching for healthier snacking alternatives such as fruit or raw vegetables that are low in calories but still work to fill your stomach. If you can do without, try not to eat late. Try drinking tea or water, take a warm shower, or meditate to avoid eating late at night.

While it may prove difficult to cut fast food out of your diet at first, making simple lifestyle changes such as meal prepping and establishing junk food alternatives can help you wean yourself from fast food.