This article aims to highlight how junk food consumption has increased among people. How many people have become addicted to junk food, and what are the reasons behind this addiction? We will also take a look at how its consumption affects us in the long run and how we can reduce its consumption and lead a healthier lifestyle.
These days, we can see every other person ordering takeout from food delivery apps like Zomato, Swiggy, etc. People nowadays order food from restaurants on a weekly basis. People of all age groups, especially Gen Z, often eat outside with friends, but they do not keep track of how these unhealthy food choices are affecting them, especially in the long run.
We cannot justify unhealthy food habits at all, eating junk food once in a while is okay, but its regular consumption is extremely detrimental to our health. Its regular consumption can cause problems like digestive issues, skin issues, obesity, depression, memory issues, heart attacks, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and many other health problems.
Eating junk food not only affects our body’s physical functions but also affects our mental health. Many studies have found that eating sugary foods is linked to memory loss. And consuming junk food can also affect the brain, as certain parts of the brain can become inflamed, which can lead to mood disorders like anxiety, depression, etc.
But we still eat junk food, and we still crave it. But what causes us to have such cravings? There are many reasons behind this, one of the reasons being that we think healthy and nutritious food items like fruits and vegetables aren’t tasty.
We get picky about certain ingredients, and we don’t like homemade food because many of the dishes weren’t liked by us during our childhood. But it isn’t always true, it is not necessary that you would still not like the dish which you did not like as a child.
Our taste buds change every 5-6 years, and it takes time for people to develop a taste for certain food items. We can make home-cooked food delicious by trying different recipes, making the food more flavourful using spices and herbs, and including variety in your daily diet.
Another reason for craving junk food is not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation makes us crave more junk food, as lack of sleep suppresses the hormone leptin, which is responsible for regulating fat storage and calories burned, and triggers ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger. Thus causing unhealthy food cravings.
Stress is also another reason behind cravings. During stressful situations, the body releases the stress hormone cortisol, and various studies have found that cortisol levels lower when we consume sugar. That is the reason why we crave fats and sugars when we are stressed out, and we end up consuming junk food like ice creams, candies, chocolates, cakes, etc.
Hormonal imbalance can also be a reason behind cravings. During periods and pregnancy, women experience drops and rise in hormones, which can cause a lot of chaos physically and mentally. Hence, causing them to experience extremely strong cravings during this time.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause cravings too. Many times individuals are suffering from certain nutritional deficiencies due to not having proper food intake and a balanced diet. These nutritional deficiencies cause them to crave certain food items, for example, people who suffer from magnesium deficiency often crave chocolates, nuts, and beans, whereas people suffering from sodium deficiency crave chips and salty food items.
However, sometimes we just misinterpret thirst signals as hunger signals. Due to insufficient water intake, our body sends thirst signals but our mind misinterprets it as us being hungry. That makes us crave junk food, and we end up eating unhealthy snacks.
Furthermore, it also happens that when someone near us like our friends, family members, or colleagues, is craving or ordering some junk food, we also start craving that junk food. And end up wanting to eat it. But we can reduce our junk food intake and overcome junk food addiction. We just need to ensure that we get adequate sleep and lower our stress levels by walking, doing yoga, pilates, etc.
We need to eat more healthy food, and if you find homemade dishes bland and boring, you can turn healthy food into flavourful dishes by trying new recipes and options. It is a good idea to plan your meals ahead of time and keep ingredients ready so that you don’t end up eating junk food just because you were too hungry and had nothing planned for your meal.
Therefore, when you go grocery shopping, don’t buy too many chocolates, potato chips, soft drinks, and other unhealthy snacks but it's okay to buy some snacks, just see that you don’t buy too much. Look out for nutrient deficiencies, and get yourself checked if you suspect that you are suffering from some deficiency.
To conclude, it is difficult to control our cravings and eat a healthy, balanced diet, but the benefits of doing this are worth the effort. We can make ourselves less prone to several diseases and lower the burden on our bodies both physically and mentally, considering how it also affects our mental health.
Eating takeaways once in a while is fine but ensure that you do not make it a habit. Because eating junk food can become addictive and getting out of a bad habit is tough. So it is better to not let a bad habit develop, to begin with, and lead a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and keeping our stress levels under control.
It takes strong willpower to control yourself and move away from your bad habits and addictions, but it is not impossible. Believe in yourself and visualize the benefits of getting rid of the addiction, as that may help you in staying strong and keep you motivated.
“Our tongue wants what tastes good to it, not what is good for us.” ~ Mokokoma Mokhonoana
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