Let's face it, chances are good that we've all succumbed to the siren song of junk food at some point, but does it deserve its own celebratory day?
Apparently so, although who chose junk food to celebrate and why on this date remains a mystery.
But what is considered junk food - and is it really bad for you?
Defined as being food high in calories and low in nutritional content. Junk food is has been around for centuries, although its evolution in America started on a rising track in the 1800s.
Two things have been credited with helping junk food's early advance: the industrialization of the flour mills in the 1820s, which brought cheap, white flour to the masses - and - the American Civil War. Soldiers ate mass-produced rations of foods prepared with higher fat and sugar and craved the same taste and convenience when they returned home.
In the 1950s, the Drive-thru was born as a result of more people owning cars and moving to the suburbs. It began as a convenience for busy people on the go, and skyrocketed in popularity and growth as the fad caught on. Today, you can find just about any type of fast food offered from a Drive-thru, food truck, or street vendor.
By the 1970s, junk food morphed into an obsession. The phrase "junk food" has been used since the early 1950s, but is credited to Michael Jacobson, director of the American Center for Science and Public Interest, (a consumer group that focused on health and nutrition) who wrote about it in 1972.
Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola were created in pharmacies in the 1880s as elixirs to help with digestion. Coca-Cola was invented by Dr. John S. Pemberton in 1886, besting Pepsi by a few years. Inspired by the success of Coca-Cola, pharmacist Caleb D. Bradham created Pepsi-Cola in his New Bern, North Carolina shop.
Cracker Jack debuted at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. People loved the sweet-salty mix of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses, but the topper was that each box contained a prize. Cracker Jack eventually became the best selling snack in the world by 1916.
Find A Healthy Balance
Junk food is typically loaded with carbohydrates, fats, salt, sugar, and calories. It also lacks vitamins, minerals, and fiber. So why eat it? Because sweet or savory, it's fast and satisfyingly delicious.
An occasional indulgence is okay, but eating too much is bad for your brain and body - and can be addictive.
That doesn't mean you should never give in to a crave, just be sure to eat consciously when it comes to junk food. Take your time and savor every bite rather than wolf it down.
Also, order a healthier version - if you love chicken sandwiches, try having the chicken grilled rather than breaded and fried. The switch may not sit well in your head initially, but once you take that first bite, you'll forget the swap (and really, grilled tastes so much better).
Food vendors are stepping up their game by offering healthier options of junk food and the way it's prepared. Many fast food restaurants list the nutritional information of their products on their websites (sometimes you have to really search, but it's there). Look up your favorite craves and see how you can modify them to be healthier next time. Tip - do not do this when you're hungry!
Celebrate (without guilt)
Allow yourself a splurge today. Make it a bit easier by knowing what you're going to order - and do a little research before to see if you can make it healthier in some way.
Make your own healthy junk food. Try some of these healthy alternative but satisfying versions of junk food favorites from Eating Well.
Smile! Listen to Junk Food Junkie by Larry Groce (1976). This silly song will put you in a good mood.
Whatever you decide, celebrate the day guilt free.
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