At the library recently I overheard the woman who runs the little coffee shop talking to a patron. She was talking about her kids and in a totally exasperated voice said, "Every night as soon as the dishes are put away, OUT come the chips, AND the cookies, AND the pretzels...!" And I thought to myself, But who is buying all of that? If you're so exasperated, just quit buying that junk. Seriously. We can't control what our kids are eating when they're out with friends, but at home we certainly can. If there are no chips and cookies and pretzels to be found at home, guess what? You're kids aren't going to be eating them. It's amazing how that works.
Now I can't totally sit on a high-horse here and lecture. I don't buy junk food, but I do bake sweets. So there's junk in the house. It's free of chemicals and artificial ingredients but still loaded with too much sugar and refined flour. So yes, I'm feeling all superior to this woman because I don't have store-bought junk in my house, but I can't ignore what I do have here.
At least with savory snacks we're in good shape. We've always got nuts, seeds and fruit for snacks (okay, so fruit isn't savory), sometimes popcorn, and I personally like to cook a big batch of chickpeas and snack on those at times. Collin has never complained that we don't buy junk food. And frankly, we don't do all that much snacking. When you eat nutrient-dense foods at mealtimes you just don't get very hungry between meals.
There was a time, back when Collin was small, when I did buy junk food--Goldfish and Cheez-Its and pretzels and so on. I'm not sure how we made the transition. We just shifted slowly away from that habit. And that's the thing, it is a habit. If you try to give it up suddenly, you're going to miss it and have cravings. You'd probably have better luck making gradual changes, slipping in a few substitutions here and there, and working up to a total change of habits over time.
As I've said before, Collin is allowed to buy junk food with his own money. Mostly he buys soda, the cheap two-liter bottles at the dollar store. Recently he made an interesting discovery. For awhile he'd been having issues when he was at my house. Intestinal issues, shall we say, after mealtimes. We kept trying to figure out what food might be causing it, but could never come up with one ingredient that was common to every meal. Plus he wasn't having any issues at his dad's house. For awhile I was getting paranoid that it might be my cooking! But then he figured it out--it was the cola. Every time he had a glass of cola he would have problems. I think it's awesome that he worked this out on his own. He's at that age now where kids seem to start having a degree of body-awareness and health-consciousness (he's thirteen) and have enough self-discipline to make positive changes. I'm so impressed that he figured this out. In order for change to be lasting it has to come from within. He's now planning to have a finite soda budget for 2010--once it's used up, no more soda, even if it's only May. I'd rather he just give up soda entirely, but at least he's moving in the right direction.
P.S.--If drinking soda causes the same troubles for you as it does for my son, check out my post on Corn Syrup. It covers fructose malabsorption syndrome, which is most likely what you're suffering from (scroll about a third of the way down the post to reach the part about fructose malabsorption).