Why do I love junk food so much?

4 03 2013

Sam Zizzi

I was raised in WV. I grew up with fond memories of consuming vast quantities of pepperoni rolls, Doritos, and Mountain Dew. Usually not all in the same sitting, but sometimes. And I still enjoy potato chips more the normal person. Why is this I wonder? What is it about the tastes of these “junk” foods (my mother’s homemade pepperoni rolls obviously excluded) that are so appealing?

Recently, a couple new books on the junk food industry have come out and they are receiving some interesting media attention. I have included links below, but allow me to give you the cliffnote version, or the Wiki version, for those of you in younger generations.

1) The food industry has continued to avoid scrutiny by arguing they “provide consumers with a choice” and “that any/all foods can be part of a healthy diet”
2) Junk foods, specifically referring to processed snack foods and fast-food products at restaurants, have been engineered to please your palate. In some instances, they actually remove the natural flavor so they can put back in the exact combination of sugar, salt, and fat to make it taste “just like you want.”
3) As our tongues have become accustomed to the excessive quantities of salt and sugar in processed foods, sometimes products without these added ingredients may be less satisfying.

So, now comes the hard part. This new information can be your excuse why you can’t ever eat better (e.g., “its just too hard”), or it can serve as fuel to your quest to find healthy options for you and your family. It is a battle, after all, to find good options in an environment that promotes many unhealthy alternatives. But there are alternatives, and most of you already know to “eat this vs. that.” After reading the compelling book “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser about 10 years ago, I swore off fast food for more than 5 years. Sometime understanding the true lack of nutritional quality that is being packaged and marketed to us can be a game changer. I hope it is for you.

Truth be told, I still have an occasional Mountain Dew (1-2 times per month), and I usually go for Throwback, which does not have high fructose corn syrup. And I still love potato chips, but I try to eat out of a bowl instead of the entire bag! Sometimes I succeed. I hope you find the articles useful, and can find a way for them to be inspirational for you and your family. Keep fighting the good fight, and stick with it!

http://www.alternet.org/food/weaponizing-salt-sugar-and-fat-secrets-how-big-food-got-us-hooked-junk
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1&

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