Close up image of a young woman with eating disorder, having a midnight snack - eating donuts, in front of the refrigerator.

Fast food may not always be so fast, but unfortunately, it’s quicker than preparing a nutritious meal. Some people visit fast food restaurants every day and although it may feel satisfying, fast food leads to obesity and high cholesterol, putting you at risk for heart disease. If you’re having trouble staying away from the drive-through, here are several tips to break your fast food addiction beginning today.

Plan Meals Ahead of Time

The reason fast food joints are so popular is that no thought is involved. You can easily grab a meal during your lunch hour or order take-out on the way home. A lack of meal planning can have dire consequences on your health when it drives you to fast food. Fortunately, you can change all of that with a little brainstorming.

Make a list of nutritious snacks you can store at work such as nuts, fruit or yogurt. Research food prepping one day a week so you always have healthy meals ready for lunch or dinner. Giving yourself choices will stop you from buying fast food because it won’t feel like the only option.

Cook Healthy Dupes at Home

If never enjoying fast food again is unthinkable, create healthy dupes at home. For example, if you miss your favorite cheeseburger, make your own using lean ground beef, real cheese and a whole wheat bun. If you miss Chinese take-out, research Chinese food recipes online for a homemade alternative. Want fries? Make them without oil in an air fryer. Cooking at home allows you to control portions and select healthier ingredients.

Take a Different Route to Work

Driving past a fast food restaurant is sometimes too much to handle, especially if you get a whiff of burgers on the grill. Many unhealthy choices are made on the spur of the moment, so think seriously about taking a different route. Eliminating the temptation altogether might be just what you need to keep yourself on a healthy diet.

Add More Protein to Your Diet

Some dieters often complain about feeling hungry, leading them to make that dreaded trip to a fast food restaurant. If you’re getting pangs of hunger during the day, try adding more protein to your diet. Not only does protein help you lose weight and build muscle, but it also keeps you feeling full. Opt for healthy protein sources such as eggs, nuts, lean beef, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt.

Keep a Food Journal

How can keeping a food journal help break a fast food addiction? Journaling your daily consumption of calories and fat can be a huge wake-up call. You probably won’t realize how much you’re really consuming until it’s all down on paper. Also, make a note of how you feel after each meal. Fast food usually results in feeling bloated, sluggish and greasy. The next time you crave fast food, look at your journal first.

If it feels like fast food is running your life, take control! By planning your meals and cooking healthy versions of your favorites at home, you’ll add years to your life.