Junk Food Junkies. It sounds comical but I am not kidding, and I am a recovering Junk Food Junkie myself.
First let’s start with the obvious. If something was labeled Deadly Doughnuts, Poisonous Potato Chips, or Toxic Taquitos would you eat it? If I was taking the label seriously I wouldn’t. And while these labels are fictitious, what we don’t recognize is that if it starts with something bad like “Junk” the truth is we already know what we are putting in our body.
Let’s talk a little bit about what this junk does to your body. You can pretty much bet that when we are talking about junk food we are talking about processed foods that are high in sugar. These types of food are very easy for your body to process, because they have already been over processed for you. And when you make things too easy for your digestive system to process guess what you do? You make your digestive system a less effective machine. Junk food is also often lacking in fiber, which also means we’re not using our intestines correctly–and did you know that your intestines are a muscle? What happens to muscles we don’t work out? They become weak. So what happens when we have a defunct digestive system and weak intestines?
Well, first digestion slows down and constipation can occur. Then there is the overwhelming amount of chemicals that are required to make the junk we’re talking about. All those long names you can’t say correctly on the nutrition labels, and of course one of our biggest enemies of all. Dare I say it aloud? Yup, the junk food devil itself: High Fructose Corn Syrup. Guess what your liver and kidneys try to do with these chemicals? It’s trying to process them, and it’s overburdened doing so.
Do you know what “junk food” mainly consists of? Junk food is usually high in fat, sodium and sugar, all of which can lead you to a mirage of health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. High levels of sugar put your metabolism under stress and make your pancreas work overtime to give off enough insulin to prevent dangerous blood sugar levels. The high sodium in junk food can also have a negative effect on renal function and eventually, lead you to kidney disease.
And then there is the high fat in junk food. I normally like to avoid the word fat, I really do, but it doesn’t take a very far leap for us to understand that if we eat foods that are high in fat we are likely to gain fat ourselves. I’m not talking about the size of your clothes here folks; I’m talking about visceral fat gain. That’s the fat that is stored within the abdominal cavity around some very important organs like your liver, pancreas and intestines.
And do you know why this happens? Because junk food makes us lazy and lethargic because it doesn’t contain adequate amounts of protein or good carbohydrates (complex carbohydrates) and after consuming it your blood sugar levels drop which will often leave you feeling unhappy, tired and… craving sugar. Additionally high levels of dietary fat are known to hinder cognitive performance, so once again, leave us feeling tired.
So if we are constantly putting junk in, and the junk is sucking away at our energy levels, what’s happening? We lack the interest an enthusiasm to perform normal daily physical activities let alone the motivation to get in the exercise that we need in order to make any sort of progress in our weight loss journeys.
Often, I have been asked what I ate in a day when I weighed 420 lbs. My answer is usually “I ate junk.” And it’s not untrue. I try to go back and think about what a normal eating day was like for me then and it’s difficult for me. But I can say that I ate a lot of junk food. Jalapeno potato chips, candy bars, and spicy pork rinds were my go-to snack. McDonald’s, Jack-In-The-Box and Taco Bell were my favorite dinners. My vegetables came deep-fried, smothered in butter, breaded, and dipped in fatty dressing. Dessert wasn’t something I had once in a while; it was a nightly event in front of the television and usually consisted of a pint of my favorite flavor of ice cream.
I was a junk food junkie; I had to get my fix every day. And when I started feeling tired, lacking energy or was depressed, I turned right back to the very thing that was causing it.
If you have ever been around someone who struggled with sustenance abuse, the pattern isn’t all that different. I watched my “Family” abuse drugs most of my life. It didn’t matter that they were hurting their bodies. Acne appeared on their skin, sores took longer to heal, and they looked like they aged faster because it affected their skin elasticity. They started suffering tooth decay and losing their teeth, they were depressed, unhappy, miserable, and guess what they did? They’d spend their grocery money on an “8-ball” because they were addicts.
Often times, the weight loss community gets offended by this comparison. They don’t like being considered addicts; they don’t like their food addictions compared to that of a meth-head getting their fix. But in this community, I’m one of the first people who will say this to your face. Because I have no problem admitting that I was once a food addict and a junk food junkie.
I’m not here to sugar coat it for you or to tell you that it’s okay, and I won’t pat you on the back for eating pizza and jelly doughnuts. I’m here to educate you and help you along the way in your weight loss journey. I’m here to tell you the truth, even when you don’t like it.
Today’s truth: Junk food is two words that shouldn’t go together in the vocabulary of our weight loss journey. It is either
A. Junk: We don’t want to put in our bodies
B. Food: Nutritious fuel that we put in our bodies to make it perform.
It’s either A or B Slender Seekers. When it comes to unhealthy eating and junk food there simply is no “All of the above”