Eating habits have changed drastically since the beginning of time. Fast life demands fast food. The concept of a home-cooked meal is slowly fading. Take-outs and online ordering have taken their toll on our lives. All of these places serve junk food. The more we eat, the more we crave. So, let’s talk about one of the most important problems that Gen Alpha is facing:
What Is Junk Food?
Junk food refers to the high-calorie group of foods that contain high amounts of fat and sugar and very little protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This food contains high calories ideal for gaining weight. Pizza, burgers, fries, cakes, candy, carbonated drinks, etc fall under this category.
What Causes The Craving?
This is basically how the food feels in your mouth. It is not just the taste but also the smell which gets you addicted to junk food.
2. Dynamic contrast
This refers to the combination of different sensations in the same food. How something with an edible shell has a soft creamy thing inside. It is a perfect combination of a crackle with something soft. For example, a pizza has a thick slightly crispy crust with soft melted cheese on top. A perfect combination.
3. Salivary response
Emulsified foods like butter, sauce, and chocolate lead to an increase in salivary levels which in turn heightens the taste perceived by your taste buds.
Your brain might not remember anything you study a night before an exam but it will surely remember the wonderful taste of these junk foods. Once you eat a particularly tasty food, the brain remembers the response that it created, and the next time you see, smell or even think about that particular food, those past memories are triggered.
5. Food that melts rapidly
Some foodstuffs just melt in your mouth. Although that sensation might be one of the best sensations that you have experienced, it will never give you a sensation of being full. So you will go on eating more and more.
6. Sugar rush
Food containing a high sugar content triggers the “pleasure center” of the brain, which leaves it asking for more.
7. Looks pleasing
Imagine there’s a plate of roti and gavar sabzi and another plate of pizza kept in front of you. Which would look more appealing? Obviously pizza. Nobody in their right mind would choose Gavar over Pizza, right?
Major companies appoint special people and invest a lot of money in researching human responses to junk foods. They know exactly where to hit and how to market their products to make them look even more interesting. One should not feel guilty about hogging junk once in a while. But making it a habit is definitely not good for one’s health.
Harmful Effects Of Junk Food
Daily binging, over a period of time, will lead to obesity. And along with it, will come hundreds of other ailments like cardiac problems, increased cholesterol, polycystic ovarian syndrome and many more. The salt content in these foods is also high which is another risk factor for heart diseases. Research also says that there may be a connection to depression.
Behavior problems like hyperactivity can be seen in young children. Usually, these types of food are often so filling that there is no room for healthy food. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies, especially in kids.
How To Avoid Junk Food?
Now, this needs mutual efforts from our side as well as the government. In some countries, the government levies a heavy tax on these junk foods which makes it a bit difficult to afford. And secondly, the advertisements should be reduced. Kids are hooked on to television, which is the main source of advertisements. The ads are so attractive that children can’t help but demand the product.
At the individual level, the less we eat, the less we crave. It will be difficult to control in the beginning. But as you form the habit of eating healthy, it will get easier and easier. Avoid buying packaged foods. Buy yourself a nice dress or a day at the spa when you avoid junk food for a particular period of time. The reward method does help.
And the most important: learn to deal with your stress. Most of us turn to food for comfort every time we feel sad or angry. Find an alternative. Go jogging or dancing or read a book. Whatever helps.