I started writing this blog to educate people on how to eat and live a healthy life. During the course of my research and while talking to people about the subject I realized many people already know the basics, yet they continue practicing unhealthy habits. Here are two articles addressing why that happens.
by Erin Doherty
Most people understand the fundamentals of a healthy diet, which includes plenty of whole grains, fruit, fish, and limited meat. Unfortunately, many people who need to improve their diets continue to eat junk food, or food high in simple carbohydrates, preservatives, fat and salt, even though they know it is most likely harming their health. This self-sabotage happens for three reasons convenience, habit or comfort, and cost.
Junk food is widely available in vending machines, convenience stores, cafeterias, and grocery stores. Most of it is already prepared and portable. Many people pick up a small bag of chips or a candy bar as an afternoon snack and eat it at their desk without thinking about the consequences. Others may run errands and stop at a drive-through for a meal that is primarily junk food. Comparatively, a healthy meal may take an hour or more to shop for, prepare, and clean up.
Lifelong habits and traditions surrounding a variety of junk foods can be hard to recognize and break. Many people associate a trip to the movies with a bucket of buttered popcorn and a box of candy. Most people eat chips with sandwiches without questioning the nutritional value of deep-fried potatoes. Thanksgiving, Halloween, birthdays, and Christmas are all excuses to overindulge. The typical western diet has dozens of examples of associating unhealthy food with a healthier food or a social event. Without healthy options, most people will continue to eat what is available.
Comfort is another reason people continue to eat junk food. Foods high in carbohydrates, salt, sugar, or fat taste good and can be soothing. After a hard day, many people settle down with a bag of chips, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, or tub of ice cream. All of these foods taste good and can make people feel better in the short term, but the long-term effects can be severe. Sometimes people are able to avoid comfort food, but this is extremely unlikely unless the healthy alternative is already prepared in an appetizing or comforting way.
Finally, prepackaged snack food and fast food producers have driven down their costs to the point that most value meals are less expensive than healthier options. It would be difficult to prepare a complete, healthy meal with plenty of organic vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean meat for less than the cost of a burger, fries, and soft drink. Although healthy fast food options are improving, without planning, it is difficult to bring the cost of healthy eating down to the cost of eating fast food.
Encouraging people to adopt a healthier diet is not enough. Most people will not change their diets unless the underlying reasons for eating junk are addressed.
Here’s another article that adds the fact that people eat what they know, and how they were trained to eat as a child.
by Michelle Wilkinson
One of the problems with today’s society is that everybody is so busy rushing around that they don’t take the time to look after themselves by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. Too often food is eaten on the go and is chosen because it is quick and easy to prepare rather than for its nutritional content. Junk food has become a part of most people’s life, and the evidence is plain to see as more people are becoming obese and their health suffering as a result of their weight. Despite the fact that junk food is bad for people’s health most continue to eat junk food, but why?
People who consume large quantities of junk food – food which is high in calories, but low in nutritional value – are more likely to become obese, to develop diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Their mental health may also suffer, as if they have a weight problem they could also have low self-esteem, whilst junk food tends to contain a lot of sugar which can be addictive. It is not unusual for people to suffer mood swings and cravings for sugar-laden foods when they have not had a sugar-fix. This may be one reason why people eat junk food even though they know it’s bad for them, as they have a compulsion to.
How do they get hooked in the first place, though? It is usually family and friends who introduce them to junk food, and parents have a particular responsibility to ensure their children eat well. It seems that they may well be failing, though, as childhood obesity levels rise, and since adults seem to be having such a hard time controlling their own weight it is not surprising that they hand their bad habits on to their children. If parents eat a lot of junk food, the chances are their children will, too, and children can’t be accused of knowing that junk food is bad for them if they are simply emulating their elders.
Parents, however, lead busy lives and find stopping off at McDonald’s or Burger King for some fries and burger less burdensome than having to cook a meal from scratch. There is also the added bonus that fast food usually tastes pretty good, and isn’t all that expensive. It is not unusual to enter a supermarket and see convenience meals, chocolate bars, cakes, biscuits, sweets, and crisps on special offer, and they generally look more appetizing than the apples and oranges on display.
Indeed, advertising can play a role in getting people to buy junk food and fast food in the first place if they see an advertisement for a new product, particularly if it is cheap, and may want to try it as a result. Once they’ve tried it, they may find themselves going back for it again and again. This can be a particular problem for those who have a habit of comfort eating – they don’t usually reach for healthy options, but rather junk food, since it tastes good and makes them feel good for a short time, and so stocking up on junk food is simply asking for trouble if they are unable to control their urges.
There are a number of reasons why people continue to eat junk food despite knowing it’s bad for them, which isn’t a problem when they are able to moderate their intake. The trouble is that most people seem to be eating too much junk food which is affecting their weight and their health. It is these individuals who have to learn to control whatever it is that makes them want to eat junk food all the time, so they can find a way to resist the constant temptation of it.
There are many reasons we continue to eat unhealthy foods and do other things we know are unhealthy. One big reason is habit. It takes 21 days to break a habit. Start one new healthy habit today to replace an unhealthy one, and in 21 days when it becomes a habit, change another one. You will be surprised how quickly your habits – and health! – improve.
Wishing you a healthy life!