Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

I want to go everywhere I haven't been, and back to everywhere I have been.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Junk Food: Open Your Eyes Before Opening Your Mouth

I Cannot. Stop. Munching. 

One of the worst side-effects of leaving my job is that I now have endless time to snack.  While I was working, my days were so regimented, that I barely had time to eat. I had breakfast before leaving the house; lunch was usually choked down in 10 minutes between meetings; and I tried to have a healthy snack right before I left the office so that I wouldn’t snarf down everything in sight while I waited for dinner to be ready.  We ate at about 7pm, so one snack usually sufficed for the evening.  Besides, I was so busy at night doing my second “job” of mom and wife, who had the time to keep running to the kitchen for veggie sticks?  

Ah, but now -- Time -- in this regard, is the enemy.  The sound of the school bus at 3pm seems to trigger my brain to turn on its evil
snack switch.  The hours between after-school and bedtime is a LONG, LONG time.  And because I am not racing around like a maniac anymore at night, I’ve got lots more time to sit around and watch Top Chef, which is good, because I never had time to do that before, but bad, because it makes me hungry. But seriously, I just don’t have eight hours worth of willpower to keep me out of the kitchen. The more I eat, the more I want.  For the most part, I eat fairly healthy snacks, but not always. On occasion, I’ve been known to go full-throttle on a bag of BBQ-Sour Cream-Chives-Bacon-Cheddar-Vinegar-Sea Salt chips. Thankfully, I don’t have that kind of stuff in my house too often. 

However, on a recent excursion to the supermarket, my son grabbed a bag of potato chips and begged me to buy them. “PLEASE CAN I HAVE THEM, MOM?????? PLEEEEEEEEAAAASE??” I gave in. The chips were parked in my shopping cart, right next to the organic apples, broccoli, avocados and flax meal. But somehow, as they slinked their way along the belt at the register, I couldn’t help feeling like that one bag of junk food cancelled out all of the healthy stuff I was buying.

One way I have tried to control the volume of junk food that makes its way into our house, is to allow my son to pick one “wacky snack," as we call it, when he comes with me to the supermarket.  I never wanted to totally deny him junk food, because I thought it would backfire on me, and that he’d end up in the world-record books as “the most junk food-eating kid this side of the Milky Way.” So, everything in moderation, as they say. At least, that’s what my philosophy was, until I read a recent article in the NY Times Magazine, which claims the food industry produces junk food that is designed to be addictive.  Really? Addictive on purpose? Wow.  I felt manipulated, and THAT got my cheese doodles in a twist. 

I thought I was too smart to be “taken”… after all, I read labels, avoid partially-hydrogenated everything, and honestly try to fill my shelves with mostly healthy items.  The article says sugar, salt and fat are addictive ingredients, and that the food industry has developed complex formulas that put just enough of these ingredients into foods like potato chips, to make us crave more -- but not too much, because then our brains would depress our desire to want more.  Hmmm, interesting. That explains why the only thing that makes me stop eating potato chips is an empty bag.

Speaking of potato chips, did you know that they are the food most responsible for weight gain? That 1/2 cup of some jarred tomato sauce has more sugar than 2 cookies? That yogurt in squeeze tubes have twice as much sugar per serving than the most sugary cereals? My refrigerator is loaded with those because I thought yogurt was a good snack choice for my son. Go figure. According to the article, this is all true.

This whole brouhaha about NYC Mayor Bloomberg's ban of over-sized sodas, is about the same thing. Soda makes us fat, and we're being super-sized into obesity. I'd like to give the mayor a hi-five for bringing lots of attention to a problem that shouldn't be swept under the rug with the potato chip crumbs. It's not a solution; but it is a start. 

Why should we care about this? Because childhood obesity is skyrocketing, most Americans are considered overweight, and more and more people have diabetes than ever before.  Shouldn’t the food industry, like cigarette manufacturers, be accountable for what is being pushed to our kids? We adults say we have the right to make our own choices, but don't we deserve to have all the facts before making those decisions? When choosing to eat junk food, our eyes should be as wide open as our mouths!

So where do I come out on all of this? Ban junk foods forever? Nah, I don’t think so. I like potato chips too much to never eat them again. My family and I will continue to eat junk food, but sparingly, and with new awareness.  That said, I do think that this country must get involved in the food choices that are dished out to us.  It’s critical for our individual health, and our health as a nation.   

All this talk about junk food is making me hungry. I'm gonna go grab an apple with some peanut butter and a big glass of water! 

If you want more information, here are some interesting links: 

How To Force Ethics On The Food Industry (New York Times)

What are your thoughts -- do you think the government should be more involved in this junk food problem? Do you live in a country that handles this problem differently than the US? 



  1. Hi Amy! Thanks so much for writing this. For some reason it is a PAIN to talk openly about healthy eating, I constantly feel that I have to defend my choices and prove that eating healthy is neither time consuming, nor expensive, and is just as satisfying as junk for some people (it is a big part of my blog content). Thanks for the links too-- lots of food for thought:) Overall, I am a believer in personal responsibility and accountability in one's choices. But the first link to the article in NY Times provided some great points (marketing regulations for example).

    1. Thanks, Mila. This was one of my very first posts. I'm glad you found it. Yes, I agree it is personal responsibility, but there are so many people who don't or can't understand what they are eating. I can't find a link to your blog. Can you give me the link? I'd like to check it out.

  2. Yes Amy, I completely agree! Personal responsibility is about making an informed choice, and lots of people lack the information or are not motivated enough to look for it themselves. Something as small as requiring a disclosure at the end of TV commercials would be a good start (along the lines of "consuming this product may cause diabetes and obesity, eat responsibly"-- just like alcohol or medications ads).

    Here is my blog It is just a couple of months in the making, and I am still in the process of figuring out how it works. I will be happy if you stop by!

    1. Found it and subscribed! It looks great --wishing you lots of success as a blogger. I'm still figuring mine out, and I've been at it for a year!

  3. Thanks Amy, I subscribed to your blog as well. Look forward to reading your past and future posts!


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