Food

Junk food: How does it really affect you?

By  | 

gold-bear-gummi-bears-bear-yellow-55825

Junk food is one of those guilty pleasures everyone indulges in. Whether it’s Oreos, potato chips or cookies that are there for you when you need them most, how do they truly affect your body?

These fattening and unhealthy foods are found in many different places, some you wouldn’t even expect to be classified as junk food. There are the obvious ones: cookies, potato chips, candy, chocolate, soda, hamburgers, French fries and countless others. However, foods like breakfast cereals and cereal bars can be classified as junk food as well because of the high calories and sugar content. In the United States, obesity rates are continuously rising and junk food could be to blame. The recommended caloric intake for humans is 1,500-1,800 per day, but at many fast food restaurants you could consume much more than that in just one meal. A Big Mac meal at McDonald’s alone has about 1,200 calories. Okay, gross.

The fast food industry has been growing, and it won’t be stopping anytime soon. In the past, people had to grow their own food and plan ahead days in advance for meals. There wasn’t even an option to stop and grab dinner on the way home, since fast food restaurants didn’t exist yet. In present day America, people have the option to get a filling dinner for as cheap as $5, with options varying from hamburgers, tacos and sugary drinks. The convenience and instant gratification is what fuels most people to continue eating fast food, despite how unhealthy it all is.

Some of the most famous and popular snack foods are deceiving in their packaging and what they truly contain. Here are some of the worst offenders:

  • The cream filling in the coveted Twinkies is actually not cream at all. It’s mostly a vegetable shortening called Cisco.
  • Cheese products labeled as processed are packed with preservatives and chemicals to prolong their shelf life, and these ingredients make up 49% of the product.
  • Disappointingly, eating a salad isn’t always your best option. Packaged salads usually contain propylene glycol to help keep the leaves crisp for longer. This ingredient is also found in antifreeze and sexual lubricant.
  • Milkshakes from your favorite fast food places contain more chemicals than your everyday fertilizer.
  • Silicon dioxide (which is sand) is used as an anti-caking ingredient in foods like buffalo wings and chili. The sand helps it be able to be in a heater for multiple days.
  • The average taco salad at fast food restaurants contains more grams of fat than sixteen Boston creme pies.

Wow. Now that you’ve been scarred for life, what do these foods actually do to your body? The effects are all-around bad, even when a child is still in the womb. Women who eat lots of fast food while pregnant or breast-feeding have children who are prone to obesity throughout their entire lives. Those children are also more prone to getting diabetes, higher cholesterol and high levels of fat in their blood. Researchers also suggest that breast cancer rates in China are rising at an alarming rate because of Western-style junk food and unhealthy diets becoming easier to maintain and more popular. It’s beginning to affect the entire world.

If most of the food on the market is unhealthy, what the hell can we eat? Below is a list of healthier options when you have that craving for some junk food (like we all do). Purchase snacks like this instead of others that have ingredients you can’t even pronounce, trust me your body (and digestive system) will thank you.

Terra vegetable chips

Image: Amazon

These vegetable chips from Terra are a better option than greasy potato chips. You still get that salty crunch, but without all the weird added ingredients. In my opinion, these even have more flavor than regular chips!

Kale chips

Image: Amazon

If you’re really trying to be a health nut, try these kale chips. They still give you a little crunch, but pack much more nutritional value.

Smartfood popcorn

Image: Amazon

If you’re a chip addict like I am, popcorn might be a good way for you to slowly get off of them. This one from Smartfood only has 35 calories, and it comes in lots of different flavors.

Trail mix

Image: Amazon

Trail mix is a good way to get protein and good fats from a quick snack—not to mention lots of flavor. Most varieties have some form of chocolate included, so your sweet tooth will surely be satisfied.

Lauren is a part-time editorial and graphic contributor at 301 Digital Media who has a strange obsession with cats and a love for Drake that will never be reciprocated. Follow her on Instagram: @lpetermeyer