Junk Food Day

What is junk food?

According to Merriam-Webster - “1. Food that is high in calories but low in nutritional content. 2. something that is appealing or enjoyable but of little or no real value.”

According to https://www.definitions.net/definition/junk+foodJunk food is a derisive slang term for food that is of little nutritional value and often high in fat, sugar, salt, and calories. ... Despite being labeled as "junk" consuming such foods usually does not pose any immediate health concerns and is generally safe when integrated into a well balanced diet.”

I like that both resources give the definition with an “out”. The Merriam-Webster version says junk food is something appealing or enjoyable. The Definitions.net version says junk food doesn’t pose any immediate health concerns. Junk food, just like fast food, has such a bad wrap these days. People are embarrassed to admit that they eat junk food or fast food because people will judge them for being…what? In my opinion, both junk food and fast food HAVE to exist in the world we live in. I’ve said this many times before and I’ll say it again: we all live like we’re running out of time - we’re busy - our schedules are filled to the hilt. Fast food exists so that one can feed themselves when they are in a hurry and need to eat a meal. It becomes a problem when people rely on fast food more than once a week because the bigger picture is - why are you that busy that you can’t feed yourself a meal that isn’t fast?

As for junk food. There is absolutely no nutritional value in junk food. Fast food and junk food are not the same thing. Fast food has nutritional value - all menu items may not be 100% nutritional or of highest quality but there is at least some value in the calories consumed. Junk food is purely an enjoyable food that will bring no value to your body whatsoever. No one should think or expect otherwise of junk food. So why should this type of food be around? Simply put, the answer is ENJOYMENT. It becomes a problem when one needs to “enjoy” themselves more than they need to give their body valuable nutrition.

Recently, I did some unofficial research via FaceBook and it was interesting to see what people considered junk food. Some people listed pizza, tacos, popcorn, breakfast burritos, burgers, fried chicken and guacamole as junk food. The comments were general - meaning there were no specifics mentioned like popcorn covered in caramel and chocolate or a breakfast burrito that came out of a gas station vending machine. The assumption is that these foods are listed as junk even though there is nutritional value in all of them.

I’m bringing up junk food because on July 21st it is National Junk Food Day. Quoting Nationaldaycalendar.com, “By the 1970s, junk foods were given a name and a bad one, too. Michael Jacobson, a microbiologist, is credited with coining the phrase and set out to curb our appetite for the high sugar, high salt, high preservative foods Americans were consuming at an alarming rate.”

My question is, why were Americans consuming so much junk food at an alarming rate back in the day? My only guess would be BOREDOM. They were bored with the healthy, wholesome meals that were prepared for them three times a day in their very own kitchens. They were excited to try NEW things and open their minds to have DIFFERENT flavors. That would be my guess. Maybe combine it with more disposable income to spend on processed foods. Whatever the reason(s) was back in the day, there is a movement of people taking charge of their own health nowadays, going back to healthy choices and wholesome, home cooked meals. It is such a positive movement! I’m very proud of Americans for educating themselves and eating better these days. However, eating junk food is now very embarrassing for one to admit these days. I’d even go so far as to say that someone would rather admit that they have a shop lifting addiction than to admit that they enjoy eating junk food.

Gimme a break! {insert 80’s commercial here: Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar). We can’t all eat perfectly every single day or else we’d be bored to death. And I promise you - worse things could happen then splurging on a deep fried Twinkie once a year at the state fair. Enjoyment thru food is NOT a bad thing - especially if bonding moments occur. When I learned that National Junk Food Day existed, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to give someone a thoughtful pinch ! We all know a person who needs to feel less embarrassed about enjoying junk food. For one day, let them feel OK with the food choice that they made because you gave them a pinch - the permission to enjoy a guilty pleasure.

I received plenty of responses when I conducted my junk food research on Facebook. Here are the specifics when friends were asked to name their junk food of choice: Candy - Kit Kat, Butterfinger, Twix, Snickers, Milky Way, Mounds, Reese Pieces, Reese PB Cups, Jolly Ranchers, caramel, chocolate anything and dark chocolate with hazelnuts. Salty Stuff - salt and vinegar anything, Chili Lime Fritos, Gardettos, Jalapeno Fritos, Spicy Cheetos, potato chips, Tostitos dipped in processed cheese, Takis, salt and vinegar potato chips, pretzels, cheese doodles, Fritos, David sunflower seeds, Baked Lays, Nacho Cheese Doritos (one likes to dip in chili cheese dip), sour cream and cheddar potato chips and chips (w/guacamole). Bake Goods - walnut caramel brownies, chocolate chip cookies and white birthday cake. Ice Cream - Haagen Daz coffee, any Baskin and Robins flavor, Snickers and in general - ice cream. Yes, to all of the above! I have specific junk food situations. For road trips my go-to is Chili Cheese Fritos. For parties I love potato chips dipped in French onion dip and when I eat sweets, my choice these days is anything caramel although I’ve been known to eat a lot of white cake and sugar cookies (both with lots of frosting).

I’m so proud of and grateful for all the folks who shared their favorite junk food with me on Facebook! I hope my friends stay brave enough to admit that they like certain junk foods and that they remember this: One isn’t weak just because they eat junk food. I’d be more worried about the person who either doesn’t eat junk food or won’t admit that they do. Something’s gotta give at some point.



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