Why We Eat Junk Food

Why do we eat junk food so much?  It’s fast, convenient and comforting. It fills us up. But we weren’t born craving Taco Bell or M&Ms. We’re actually born craving simple foods, like vegetables and proteins.  So what happened?

Turns out, it’s literally our environment, where everyone gives in to wants instead of needs when it comes to food and that changes our cravings.  Those desires, which are most certainly learned behaviors, become habits, causing us to eat way more calories than we need and to choose fast food over a more nutritious home cooked meal.

Once we realize that a lot of what we eat is because of habit, not some innate need, and realize that it’s actually easier, and can be cheaper, to eat a more simple, more pure, more natural diet.  And it can make a MASSIVE difference in your overall wellness.

What is “junk food”?

In general, junk food gets its name because it contains many ingredients that are complex and hard to digest and metabolize. That means it’s essentially waste, which goes right to your waist.

Many fast food restaurants also serve fried food that contains lots of trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils), and probably a lot more salt than you need.  One fast food meal can contain as much as 1,500 calories, which is well over 50% of the daily calories required for a healthy adult. As well, within these empty calories you will find up to 75 grams of fat, and little to no vitamin content. In addition, food quantity is tougher to control and you might feel compelled to eat the WHOLE super burger or all dozen chicken nuggets because of the “clean your plate and don’t waste money” feeling.

How to kick the habit

You can start changing eating habits literally one bite at a time.  Try to include at least one simple, raw fruit or vegetable with every meal.  Then work toward identifying two or three means a week that you can make at home, NOT in the microwave, but on the grill or in a pot on the stove–containing tasty greens, proteins (fish, seafood, dark veggies).  And while you’re at it, back off the salt a little.

You can also try backing off of things that contain gluten from wheat flour.  Many things that contain gluten are also packed with sugar, so staying away from gluten-containing foods helps you wean yourself away from sweets too.

Just a part of overall wellness

While you’re reducing your fast food intake, user this as an opportunity to think about your overall health.  You know you should exercise more, or at least “smarter”, and you know that increasing stamina makes workouts more productive and less painful. A good massage helps, too.  You’ll get the benefit of “recharging” tired muscles, relaxation that increases blood flow, which can aid in digestion, and you’ll just feel a lot better.


Fast Food Alternatives for Children

Fast Food Nutrition Data

Chef Jamie Oliver and the Food Revolution