Junk food, there no denying it, its a pleasure to eat. Even professional sports people eat Junk food as a treat, or have cheat days and binge on it.
That Pizza may look appealing but theres 3500 calories in it! Thats a lot!
Junk food is on sale everywhere, there are two 24 hours burger joints near my house. Two and I live in a village! Thats also discounting all the pizzerias, kebab shops, chip shops, fried chicken shops, and everything inbetween around where I live.
Never before in the history of man kind is food so readily available in the western world. Long gone are the days where we would have to go out and hunt or go hungry.
So why exactly is junk food so nice if its so bad for us?
This is a good question and there is not really a simple ‘because’. In order to find out we have to go back to the past and look at the life styles of our ancient ancestors. However it’s not just the life styles we need to look at but we also need to look at the cycle of the season as this also plays a huge part.
Long ago in the land that time forgot
A long time ago, before farming was a thing, let along a fast food shop being around, things were very different. This was a time when our ancestors lived in caves and hunted woolly mammoths. Men would go out and hunt animals and the woman would gather nuts and berries and the like.
The meat would feed the people and the skins of the animals would cloth the families and keep them warm. The woman would look after the children while the men were hunting. (You didn’t want 4 year old little Jimmy going with Daddy to fight sabre tooth tigers did you?) Everyone was happy. (So long as mummy found the nuts and berries and Daddy came back alive, with said sabre tooth tiger over his shoulder.
The best parts of the animal wasn’t the lean meats, but the fats of the animal, eating fat would trigger a reward in the brain and the brain would send signals out wanting more. The reason for this was because the fat was the most nutritious and calorie dense. Which means Daddy can hunt longer for Sabre tooth tigers and Mummy can spend longer gathering nuts while making sure little Jimmy doesn’t get eaten.
The seasons also played a part
Although seasons is a fairly modern term, there has also been a cycle of the weather because of the tilt of earths axis and because of the earths orbit around the star we call our sun. No the earth is not flat.
So there has always been a bit where its been colder and a bit where its been warmer, which we now call a year. as the year draws to and end the trees start bearing fruit. Fruit which are high in sugars. Which the woman would gather and in turn the people would eat. The sugars also triggered a reward signal in the brain. This would mean people would over indulge and gain a few pounds. Seeing as the cold months were coming this little ‘extra’ was Ok. Everyone was happy, unless little Jimmy wondered off and sabre tooth tigers ate him that is.
The world has changed very quickly
No longer is food a scarce commodity. However the world has changed so quickly that our biology is still the same. We still have the reward signals for sugar and fat, its hard wired into our beings. This is where the problem is. 18inch pizzas, triple stacked burgers, chips, chips with cheese. Junk food is available on nearly every corner.
Industrial farming on a mass scale has driven the cost of food production down so low a pack of doughnuts is now cheaper than a bunch of fruit. You can literally buy a burger (devoid of any real nutrition) for a pound. Worse is that these burgers are full of preservatives and additives which furthers enhances the reward signals. Which in turn increases cravings for these rich and high calorie dense foods.
On top of all this, food marketed as ‘healthy’ often contain more sugar than there ‘unhealthy’ counter parts. You might think that you are eating healthy but you actually Arn’t.
Are super foods ‘Super’?
Take for instance the ‘super food’ dried goji Berries. A 100 gram serving of these have 321 calories and 54.5Grams of sugar that’s 11 teaspoons.
A Mac Donalds cheese burger contains 301 Calories.
I’m not saying burgers are good for you, we all know they are not. The point I’m making is that the healthy ‘super food’ option isn’t good either as can be as bad for you as Junk food, though we are led to believe it is.
Imagine going to meet your partners parents for the first time and they offer to make you a cup of tea and they ask you how many sugars you have and you reply 11 spoons please!
Obesity is a crisis and there are a huge amount of diseases;
- heart disease,
- high blood pressure,
Are to name just a few, Eating foods that are packed full of sugar and fats is slowing killing us.
So how do we stop this?
Sadly there isn’t an easy option, although education on food nutrition helps but the education budgets aren’t nearly as large as the marketing budgets of the large fast food corporations.
It starts with you, making sure that you have a balance in what you eat. I feel it is ok to eat the odd burger here and there. Just look at my latest cooking blog post, Mushroom, Garlic and Cheese bread, (Link here). It would be very wrong of me to say you must eat a strict vegetable based diet blah blah blah.
I don’t and I’m not going to pretend I do either. However, I don’t visit my fast food joint four nights a week, or have a fried fried breakfast most mornings either.
Balance and Moderation
Junk food is fine once in a while, we are hard wired to enjoy it its just the way we are built but, there has to be moderation with junk food. This is something that tis down to you to control. A healthy balanced diet is key, eat enough veggies, eat lean meats, Learn how to cook, how to eat more healthy and not eating the sugar loaded ready meals. These are all little things that you can do and if you do this and you eat well with lots of fresh Vegetables five/six night out of seven then why not grab that burger or handful of goji berries and enjoy the reward from your brain!