Street foods. Fast-foods. Instant foods. Junk foods. Processed foods.
These products overtake the market. You can see people buying tons of these in fast-food chains and grocery stores. With life too busy, people choose to do everything instantly. From instant transportation to instant foods, technology makes life more comfortable. Cooking is even made simpler and easier.
Some say processed and instant foods are not healthy because they contain chemicals such as monosodium glutamate (msg) that aren't good for the body. Others reason that instant foods, such as hamburgers, contain vegetables, meat, and other healthy products making it a healthy meal. How true is this? Let's break it this way: a hamburger has a bun (carbohydrates), patty (protein), and vegetables (vitamins and minerals). Combining all those ingredients would make up a hamburger that other people call junk. Meanwhile, some people consider it healthy when it is home-made because they get to decide which healthy ingredients they can use to make a hamburger. But what do we mean when we say healthy foods?
Healthy foods and healthy eating are two different things. Though they may sound and imply the same because of the word 'healthy,' there is a thin line between them.
In general, healthy foods are those that are less processed and have fewer and identifiable ingredients. They are fresh poultry or farm products that are full of nutrients the body needs and lesser chemicals that harm our bodies. Meanwhile, healthy eating means eating foods that meet the overall needs of your body to remain healthy.
In that case, healthy food pertains to the actual food, and healthy eating pertains to a good diet.
Now with the holidays, people are indeed into preparing their best festivity meals. But come to think of it, even on such occasions, people tend to choose ready-made products or processed foods instead of home-made healthy ones. Why do people like eating junk instead of healthy foods?
Let's find out if we can identify with the following reasons:
Based on a survey question on Reddit, here are the reasons why people dislike eating healthy foods and opt to eat junk and processed foods instead.
Most fresh produce indeed has a shorter shelf life span compared to the prepared and pre-packed goods. Thus, making it a reason why people prefer to buy instant foods instead of fresh and unprocessed ones.
You can keep as many instant foods like noodles for a couple of years. But keeping vegetables for a year sounds impossible. Healthy foods get rotten even before you eat them, making them unpalatable.
It is a hassle and a waste of money to buy a two-week worth of groceries just to end up throwing most of them into the garbage bag. In addition to that, the rotting of products could result in a frequent run to the grocery store
Preparing a meal takes effort. Besides making sure that you got the complete list of ingredients, you also have to prepare the ingredients yourself. Imagine preparing something for almost or over an hour, and yet you'll just eat it for a few minutes. It doesn't sound fair and fulfilling.
Healthy foods are not pre-packed produce. They are fresh and raw, and you have to do the work before you can cook them. Prep work doesn't only apply to vegetables and other spices but also to poultry products.
Here's a list of some basic ways on how to prepare fresh produce:
Aside from that, the preparation is also time-consuming. If you are a busy person with so little time for kitchen work, you'd probably opt to order a box of pizza and drinks for your dinner. A student or an office worker living alone would rather grab a piece of toast and coffee instead of cooking a healthy meal for fear of getting late in class or work. This is the reason why most students and employees eat at a fast-food restaurant or just buy cup noodles for breakfast and lunch. Sometimes, though, people are just too lazy to do the work.
We have been accustomed to the word "instant." We like things to happen fast, and that includes the food we eat. An example of that is when people get mad when the food they ordered takes too long to arrive. When eating at a restaurant, people expect the chef to finish cooking the dish in a split second. If the waiting time takes longer than 10 minutes, they start causing a scene and nagging at the waiters.
One significant factor in eating healthy foods is to know how to make them and cook them. Which, in most cases, are quite rare. Nowadays, it is hard to find people who can cook a decent meal. Because people have been used to buying instant foods, they seldom have the motivation to learn how to cook. There are even people who don't know how to cook rice.
People have become dependent on fast-food chains. Knowing that foods are just one click away, most people no longer get up to cook something healthy. Others regard cooking as a hassle, especially if they are busy with work, studies, or other stuff.
Taste plays a significant role in choosing what to eat. Processed food products taste better than fresh and raw foods. Junk foods taste better than vegetables. But the thing about the taste is that we like certain foods because we got used to them. Other people love eating bitter gourd because, for them, it tastes delicious. Somehow, how we've been introduced to foods affects the way it tastes.
Some people say that healthy foods taste bland. That is because healthy means no monosodium glutamate (msg) was used in cooking healthy foods. Spices and salt enhance the flavor of food. Lack of it, therefore, makes the food unpalatable, whereas junk foods and processed foods contain many spices.
Although these kinds of foods aren't really healthy for the body, the palate craves them. Why do we crave junk foods instead of healthy ones? As human as we are, we usually crave fatty and sugary foods, and they also satisfy our palates' cravings. People focus more on what can satiate their hunger rather than what can give benefits to their health. But yes, unhealthy foods are palatable than healthy ones.
The convenience we are talking about here is how easily we can eat food. This is connected to time as well. Drive-thru's made access to food a lot easier. You can just go through it, order some food, and eat it even before you arrive home or to work. It is more pleasing than driving home, preparing dinner, cooking it, and eating it.
It is the same way with coffee. Though we love brewed coffee, we tend to just order at café's or just buy instant coffees for our breakfast because of the fast-paced, busy day ahead. Canned goods are also a lot more convenient than cooking raw foods.
Today, we find everything that takes most of our time as an inconvenience. It may be food or an event, even people. With the bustling life we live, time is both our friend and enemy. Going to the grocery from time to time to get the products we need is sometimes a hassle, especially if the line is long and takes most of our day. That is why easy to store foods with longer expiry dates is a convenience. We hustle to get things done, but most of the time, at the expense of our health.
People don't want to eat healthy meals because they can't prepare and cook them for the lack of kitchen area and stuff. Believe it or not, some people don't have decent kitchens, much more kitchen wares. The lack thereof results in choosing ready-made products.
A particular dish requires specific kitchen appliances to use. In most cases, those who can eat healthy foods are the people who have the means to provide ingredients and materials needed in cooking a healthy meal.
This factor is the biggest obstacle to eating healthy foods that a lot of people can relate to. A hamburger may only cause a little with all the ingredients combined. But if you buy each ingredient to make a hamburger, it would cost you more. Junk foods and processed foods are a lot cheaper. It is true because the fresher a product is, the more expensive it gets. Processed foods are not fresh. But the thing about them is they are cheaper and complete with the seasonings.
Poultry and farm products are costly. For people that don't have much, canned goods are equivalent to meat and fish.
This reason started when we were still young. Most parents have introduced food, not the right way. They have what you call foods for the good kids and foods for the bad kids. Some parents make food a reward and punishment to their kids.
For instance, when you do something terrible, your parents would not give you snacks. If you do something good, you are rewarded with cookies, although it varies from parent to parent. In some cases, parents punish their children by making them eat the foods they don't like, such as vegetables. And for celebrations, parents order pizza and a bunch of snacks for their kids. This kind of food upbringing resulted in how the children see the food. They now categorize vegetables as bad foods because they are used as punishments. They see cookies, pizza, and ice cream as right foods because they are rewarded with it when they've done something awarding.
That kind of mindset is hard to break, especially if the child got used to it at an early age until he/she became an adult.
Most people would indeed have a hard time eating healthy foods, probably not because it is expensive but because it doesn't taste as good as junk foods. But remember that what you are experiencing right now with junk and processed foods is not a simple habit of getting used to it but an addiction. You depend on those products as your lifeline. And that addiction to fatty, salty, and sugary products made you intolerant to healthy foods.
To have your palate get used to eating healthy foods, you have to build tolerance for eating it. And you can only do that through forced intake of the food. It won't happen overnight, but doing it one meal a day would help you build a healthy habit. You can also slowly limit yourself to eating junk foods until you no longer crave them.
Aside from that, it would help if you learned how to cook. Take it one step at a time. Don't expect to cook dishes that are out of your league and budget. Study healthy recipe books. Get used to cooking at home instead of ordering at fast-food restaurants.
Processed foods and junk foods are considered unhealthy. They are a significant contributor to a lot of illnesses. Although they are considered harmful, we can't deny that they are as needed as healthy foods. Most dishes made are a combination of processed and fresh products. Just like good and evil, healthy and unhealthy foods coexist with each other. Eating unhealthy products doesn't entirely mean that a person hates healthy ones. The same goes for eating healthy foods.
We can't completely remove eating processed foods in our system, but we can limit our consumption. Having a healthy lifestyle would enable you to perform well, both physically and mentally.