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Why do Americans Eat Junk Food?

Posted Oct 22 2008 4:37pm
Why do Americans eat mostly junk food instead of a healthy meal?

We didn't change our eating habits overnight. Imagine what our ancestors would have said about a book titled "In Defense of Food." They would never have believed that food needed defense. Today one of the leading indicators of the fix Americans are in is how quickly Michael Pollan's manifesto sped to the very top of the best-seller list. The book cover tells us - Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.

"What other animal needs professional help in deciding what it should eat?" Pollan asks, recognizing the absurdity of the need for his own advice. Two different forces got us here. The first is "nutritionism," the idea fostered by science that food is nothing more than the sum of its nutrients. The second and more pernicious force is the $36 billion food-marketing industry that turns food into "food-like substances."

Tips from his book: Avoid products made with ingredients you can't read or pronounce. Avoid products making health claims on the package. Yes, eat plants. But the best of them is: Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.

In a poll of Americans who were asked the top 5 reasons why people eat so much junk food:

73% said convenience
44% said it's what people like to eat
37% said it's because of heavy advertising
24% said it's more affordable
14% said it's because people don't know which foods are healthy.

A lot of reasons we don't eat right is because of the food industry always finding ways to make more profit. They come up with fast dinners for families on the go. Convenience is what families have come to expect. We don't have time to actually cook healthy meals for our family. There's not enough time after we get home from work, help kids with school work, do after school activities and maybe pick the house up a little to plan and cook a healthy meal. Sometimes it's junk or nothing. Tip: Slow Cooker meals.

We find time to shop for the perfect clothes, get our hair done, get together with friends, brush our teeth, and stop to buy that coffee from Starbucks but we don't have time to eat healthy. What's wrong with this picture? Food is what makes our body able to self-heal but we don't have time to feed it the one thing it needs, real food.

Shopping for healthy food takes more time and costs more. The processed – boxed – quick meals will be on the center shelves of most grocery stores. This is done on purpose so it's easy to see - grab and go. Looking for healthy choices means looking from the very top, down to very bottom shelf, skipping over center. Healthy food costs more, at least at first. If you look at poor health resulting from eating junk food the price for healthy food is very cost effective. Tip: It isn't too hard to make a one skillet meal using whole grain pasta, fresh tomatoes spices and grass fed beef and it will taste better than the boxed Hamburger Helper.

Eating too much and too little:
It's not just about what we eat but also how much, too much or too little is unhealthy. So is when, how and why we eat the food we do. Most people think of eating too much and being overweight as being the biggest weight problem for Americans. Some people are so concerned about the way they look so they starve themselves. Anorexia and bulimia are eating disorders in which the person views himself/herself as fat. When they do eat it's something they like and not likely to be healthy. Eating too much can be from boredom, stress, uncontrollable cravings etc.

Junk fast food tastes better than healthy food. Kids are growing up eating junk food so they don't know what real food is. American's taste buds wouldn't know real food because it's so rare. If it isn't processed, loaded with sugar, salt, fat and will last longer than our kids because of the chemical preservatives, it has no flavor or doesn't taste right.

Junk food is always available. Look at the check out counters at any store, they are loaded with candy bars, bagged snacks and even energy gum! There are snack machines everywhere, even outside my son's dentist's office. What a positive sight when you leave the dentist; eat more candy and wash it down with this Coke. We are exposed to junk food everywhere. Stores are playing on our impulse shopping, besides it's just a candy bar, right?

This one is huge...We are bombarded with advertisements from McDonalds, Burger King and Arby's to name a few. This keeps food on our mind and after a while we think, hey that sounds good I'm going to make a McDonalds run for lunch. Our kids see commercials for fruit snacks, cereal, chips, candy, pop-tarts or Oreos and pick these things out when grocery shopping. We are being led to eat what is advertised, the whole purpose of the marketing.

Keys reasons Americans don't eat healthy:

Don't like the taste of healthy food
Can't afford it
Don't have time to cook
Bombardment of advertising from TV, radio, and online
Picky eaters
Don't know what is healthy
Processed – boxed – ready to cook – just add water – frozen dinners are quick and convenient
Family meals are a thing of the past

Lack of knowledge about food:
Americans think they are healthy so don't put thought into what they eat. They think if they're still alive after always eating the food they eat today it can't be all that bad for them. For some, it takes a death of a loved one to make them think about nutrition. It's hard to wonder if better food could have stopped disease. Don't wait until you are faced with disease to think about our biggest self - healing tool, food..


If you still can't eat right I recommend the Pops, a whole food multi-vitamin to help get at least some good nutrition and stay alive longer.
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