When you think about eating healthy, it really doesn’t seem all that difficult. We just have to put the right things in our mouths. Somehow though, in our modern society of endless junk food surrounding us at all times, either literally or in advertising, it’s just plain HARD. I don’t beat myself over splurging on a thoroughly enjoyed cheeseburger or ice cream cone every now and then, but I cannot stand when I mindlessly eat junk. And worst of all, often that moment of weakness spirals into several days of junk. This is all thanks to the chemicals in processed food that trigger us to crave more. Lovely.
That being said, I had one of these such moment Saturday night. After an awesome week and a great 6-mile run that morning, I was enjoying a rare, late-night movie and suddenly felt famished. Was I really hungry or did my mind just tell me I was because I was watching a movie? Cruel but true, our brains can trigger hunger cues when it recognizes a scenario where we often eat. That’s why if you often eat in the car or when you first get home from work, you’ll find that you will usually be “hungry” when you’re in that scenario, even if you shouldn’t be. So back to the movie (a scenario where I often snack)… It started innocently enough with a bag of Smart Pop popcorn, then I remembered the sinful and very stale chocolate-covered popcorn I had recently discovered in the back of my pantry, long forgotten and missed in the last pantry purge. So knowing my husband and I both have issues with portion control, I put some in a small bowl and returned to the movie. We quickly devoured that and suddenly I was even more hungry. Next thing I know we’ve got the entire huge (and I mean HUGE) bucket of chocolate covered popcorn between us and I’ve made a major dent. Feeling a little sick by the end of the movie, I put it away and vowed to work it off the next morning.
After a good bike ride climbing crazy Tennessee hills the next morning, I was worn out and felt redeemed, but within an hour I was once again craving that chocolate covered popcorn. Oh well, I earned a few pieces right? After a hearty serving, we went out for huge, delicious cheeseburgers, tater tots, and milkshakes, and then did a little shopping where I got to feel very guilty looking at my bloated self in the dressing room mirror. Oh my goodness, stop the madness! Moral of the story, even a little bit of junk food is too much, not because that little bit will make you fat (it won’t) but because it will probably make you crave much more. And when I talk about junk, I’m mostly talking about sugar and processed foods. It’s interesting to me that if you do an Internet search for “junk food”, most of the pictures will be of a cheeseburger and fries, but I would argue that the sugar is far, far worse for our health than the burger. At least it has some redeeming qualities like protein, iron and calcium. That’s a heck of a lot more than my popcorn! Now that I think about it, the rest of that popcorn is going in the trash as soon as I get home!