As much as I love apples and oranges and grapes and….kale…haha I love me some junk food. We all do. Most junk food has been processed just right to appeal to all of our base senses and taste bud joys. One doesn’t have to give up junk food to eat healthier, but rather take another approach. Cook it yourself!!! Which brings us to Rule 39 from Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual”:
“Rule 39: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself…
“There is nothing wrong with eating sweets, fried foods, pastries, even drinking a soda every now and then, but food manufacturers have made eating these formerly expensive and hard-to-make treats so cheap and easy that we’re eating them every day. The french fry did not become America’s most popular vegetable until industry took over the jobs of the washing, peeling, cutting, and frying the potatoes – and cleaning up the mess. If you made all the french fries you ate, you would eat them much less often, if only because they’re so much work. The same holds true for fried chicken, chips, cakes, pies, and ice cream. Enjoy these treats as often as you’re willing to prepare them – chances are good it won’t be every day”
While this is a great guideline , it is something that I know I will not follow all the time with everything. For instance, there are certain things that I don’t make all that well or at least not as well as I want it to be for the sacrificed calories *smiles*. Fried chicken is one of those items. While I am not going to eat that every day, if I have a craving for fried chicken, I really want those calories to be worth it (and thus I want it made by someone who does it more often than the once a year I do it). So I treat fried chicken like a special occasion food (special occasion for my waist and my wallet) and try to get it at a restaurant. The restaurant part is key for more…I make sure it is NOT a fast food stop but rather a place one sits down and enjoys ones food. Eating slower and savoring is a big part of changing how we see and feel about food and hunger. Fast food joints drops it down to the junk food category and not the special occasion category. We all have our definitions and our lines…those are mine. Last week I made a whole slew of delicious pizza with fresh bought pizza dough (pesto inspired due to the all the warm spring weather). I also bought potatoes to make my own chips (my Achilles heal of snack foods). I will update on how those turn out (any suggestions are much appreciated!).
Aside from the fried variety of junk food. I think it is a great rule for sweets in particular. I have challenged myself to not buy any dessert but to only eat it if I make it or a friend makes it – the problem being sometimes snacking on the dessert ingredients before they make it into the dessert…darn those vegan chocolate chip chunks! I bought ingredients to make chocholate marshmallow fudge, baked apple streusel, and chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. I am attempting to make all of these vegan as well. I will be posting my attempts (and recipes) at these over the next few days! But overall Rule 39 is a good guideline to have…if only for the simple fact that it decreases our consumption of things that SHOULD be eaten sparingly. Cooking allows you total control when making your own junk food as well. You control the amount of fat, sugar, salt, etc that goes into it. You can make your junk food as healthy as you want (or as not healthy during those more indulgent times we try to keep to a minimum). Take back control of what your taste buds want…cook your own junk food!
Thought I would post some Junk Food Stats (from 2010) I found to round out the topic:
- The average American eats about 24.5 pounds of candy per year, with 11.6 pounds being chocolate candy
- There are 3,961 confectionery and nut stores in the U.S.
- More than 90% of households in the U.S. consume ice cream
- Children aged 6 to 11 are more likely to eat cookies than apples (or any other type of fruit)
- 12- to 17-year-olds are as likely to eat potato chips as salad
- On average 82 percent of people eat no cruciferous vegetables in a given day
- On average 41 percent of people eat no fruits at all in a given day
- Each day, 1 in 4 Americans visits a fast food restaurant
- The U.S. has 12,804 McDonald’s restaurants and McDonald’s feeds more than 46 million people a day. (That’s more than the entire population of Spain.)
- French fries are the most eaten “vegetable” in America
- There’s one soda vending machine for every 97 Americans
- In 1972, we spent $3 billion a year on fast food — today we spend more than $110 billion.
- Sodas alone contribute 7.1 percent of total calories eaten
- Salty snacks and fruit-flavored drinks add another five percent
- Children and youth aged 11 to 18 years visit fast food outlets an average of twice a week
- Household income spent on away-from-home foods rose from 25 percent of total food spending in 1970 to nearly one-half in 1999
- By 14 years of age, 32 percent of adolescent girls and 52 percent of boys in the United States are consuming three or more eight-ounce servings of sweetened soft drinks daily