Why do people prefer Junk food?
Have you ever wondered why junk food tastes "better" than healthier foods in salads, soups, stews, fruits, etc. In my opinion, I think this is a matter of preference but from research made, it has been observed that many people turn to fast, convenient, junk foods rather than eat a healthier and more wholesome meal. Ever cared to know why? Here's your answer.
The brain. Our brains naturally convey messages to our entire makeup that plant based foods may be bitter and poisonous. Junk foods on the other hand, appear more appealing because of these three basic factors. Salt, sugar and fat. The human being cannot do away with these. These three factors are the pinnacle of tastiness in many foods and for this reason, people tend to prefer junk foods. Nowadays, healthier foods are being incorporated with these. So you have a sweet, spicy vinaigrette being added to a salad.
Secondly, junk foods although with little or no nutritional value are more convenient. Most Ghanaians spend their days working an eight to five job, and as such the only time they have on them is that which is spent in coffee shops, drinking bars, fast food restaurants, and the like.
A balanced diet should contain the necessary ingredients for optimum growth and development. Many a time, people consider balanced diets to mainly be for children but adults are inclusive. How you spend your youthful days, the mid period of your life is greatly determined by how you spent your childhood and is also a great determinant of how your old age will look like. As such, the source of your daily calories are important. Foods that provide mainly calories have very little nutrition and are known as “empty calories.” These foods are a "no go" area. You can eat them but I advise not too frequently as these could affect your health.
Examples of foods that provide empty calories include:
- Cakes, cookies, and donuts
- Processed meats
- Energy drinks and sodas
- Ice cream
- Fried rice
However, it’s not only the type of food but the ingredients that make it nutritious. To maintain good health, limit your consumption of empty calories and instead try to get your calories from foods that are rich in other nutrients.
Homemade fried rice and chicken with plenty of fresh veggies on top may be a healthy choice. In contrast, restaurant made fried rice and chicken, and other highly processed foods often contain lesser vegetables and more often excessive amount of empty calories.
Creating the balance between fast foods and wholesome foods
Fast food is a huge problem these days. We eat too much of it. Many parents and caretakers think it’s easier to take children to a famous fast food joint instead of dragging them to a more expensive restaurant or figuring out something to cook at home that everyone will enjoy. Fast food tastes great and appealing. That's a fact and companies that make them also know how to catch one's attention with their succulent mouth watering food. But eating that way becomes a habit and a hard habit to break. I think it's OK to eat fast food once a week or twice a month on the average. That's the way to promote healthy living and longer life span. For adults it will take self discipline to control bad eating habits, whilst for children, parents can help purge that insatiable but deadly appetite for fast foods. If a kid wants kelewele, he could equally have a roasted plantain, or if he/she craves ice cream, you can procure less sugary and more natural and fruity ice creams. Homemade foods, if done properly are always healthier and more often tastier so I will encourage homemade cooking, then once a while, you can go in for fast foods. Afterall one way to break a bad eating habit is to gradually reduce the intake until you can do away with the craving.
Putting everything together
A healthy diet will incorporate all the necessary nutrients and foods groups but you need to balance them too.
A handy way to remember how much of each food group to eat is the plate method. The USDA’s “ChooseMyPlate” initiative recommends:
- filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables
- filling just over one quarter with grains
- filling just under one quarter with protein foods
- adding dairy on the side (or a nondairy replacement)
But individual needs will vary, so the USDA also provides an interactive tool, “MyPlate Plan” where you can enter your own details to find out your personal needs.
Long-term effects of eating junk foods
Eating a poor quality diet could result in a higher risk of depression, digestive issues, obesity, heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and early death. And as you might expect, frequency matters when it comes to the impact of junk food on your health.
A review of studies on fast food and heart health found having fast food more than once a week was linked to a higher risk of obesity, while eating fast food more than twice a week was associated with a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and death from coronary heart disease.
Another effect of just a couple of days of junk food is poor digestion. Because junk food lacks fiber, eating too much of it could lead to constipation.
That single fast food meal can narrow your arteries, leading to an increase in blood pressure. And the quick spike in your blood sugar from eating junk foods high in refined carbohydrates and added sugars can cause a surge in insulin, leading to a quick drop in blood sugar. That leaves you feeling tired, cranky and hungry for more.
In conclusion, junk foods don't taste better but they are rather more readily available and convenient, but can be very dangerous and harmful if taken without scruples. This generation has gotten more used to the paradigm shift and food may get more fast and less healthier. Isn't that crazy? Let's leave that for another day.
So the next time you find yourself desiring a pizza, craving for ice cream, or a chilled bottle of soda, consider the health effects of these in a prolonged situation. Choose to walk away; your health matters.
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