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How to kick ultra-processed foods

Kick an addiction to ultra-processed foods with our 5 tips. 

28 May 2024
News 2 min read
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Kicking ultra-processed foods

Have you ever wondered why you crave a sweet or salty treat when you’re feeling sad, frustrated or bored?

It’s because the sugar, salt, fat and flavour in ultra-processed food like chocolates, chips and fizzy drinks have been designed by big food companies to trigger the release of dopamine, or the happy hormone, in our brain.

That's a feeling that’s hard for our bodies to resist and can lead to us getting addicted to ultra-processed foods, especially when they’re often the cheapest products on the shelf!

We need the ultra-processed food industry to come to the table and start making their products to a higher, healthier standard.

But in the meantime, here's some things you can do to cut back your intake of ultra-processed foods.

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Stock up on healthy alternatives

Replace unhealthy foods in your kitchen or lunchbox with nutritious, filling snacks like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. So, when you feel like a healthy quick snack you have a healthy option waiting for you!

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Stay hydrated

It's easy to mistake thirst for hunger. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and curb cravings. The bodies signal for thirst and hunger can sometimes be confused, so if in doubt - drink a big glass of water.

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Exercise regularly

Engaging in regular physical activity will boost your mood and reduce cravings for unhealthy foods. Exercise triggers the happy chemicals in your brain and will leave you with a sense of wellbeing and awareness, reducing random sugar cravings. 

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Practice Mindful Eating

Pay attention to what you're eating and savour each bite. This can help prevent mindless snacking on ultra-processed foods and it might make your meals feel like a mini vacation for your taste buds! You can even keep a food journal to help track your eating habits. 

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Vote with your wallet

Demand healthier options. Where it's available and affordable, try to shop locally. Foods from local producers are often less processed and fresher than those in the supermarket. You can also try growing your own fruit and vegetables - getting into the garden is great for your mental and physical health. 

Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
VicHealth acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land. We pay our respects to all Elders past, present and future.
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VicHealth acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.

Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.