Junk food. The term is supposed credited to Michael Jacobson, director of the American Center for Science in the Public Interest who supposedly coined the phrase in 1972. It represents foods that provide little to no nutritional value or empty calories. You know – the ones we love to consume and then struggle to burn off.
Like everyone else, I love junk food. Potato chips, Snickers bars, ice cream of almost any flavor. I grew up on them. Not that we had them in the house all the time because we didn’t but that only added to the mystique. They were regarded as treats and therefore desirable. Somehow the message I got was that they were good but we couldn’t afford them all the time. Not that they bad for me so moderation was called for. Somewhere along the way this got internalized as once I could somehow afford these “treats” it was okay to eat them.
Having them in the freezer or pantry was somehow tied to status. I was earning enough money that I could afford to keep indulgent foods around. Even that wasn’t so bad except that never having learned moderation I was unable to keep them around. Whole bags of chips, packages of cookies and cartons of ice cream could disappear in record time and there often was no one else around to point the finger at but myself.
Once I realized that I was over-indulging, I tried to limit their presence in the home. Naturally I needed to still have these things for the family, I told myself. After all they weren’t the ones with health issues and food addictions. I was. Why should they suffer?
But I couldn’t stay away from whatever treats I brought home. I’d wait until the kids were in bed and I’d sit down with my bowl of ice cream, sometimes followed by a half bag of chips and indulge away. I felt ashamed and guilty the moment the last morsel was gone. I’d resolve to do better and for a while I would. But the kids would ask for something and not wanting to be a “bad” mommy, I’d get it. I’d tell myself I wouldn’t give in and sneak their treats but I knew I was lying to myself.
Knowing how I got to this point helps but I still find myself struggling with cravings for junk food. I am making better choices but I’ve decided to handle junk food differently now. I try not to keep it in the house. I don’t deprive my kids but we’ve talked about nutrition and health and what happened to me. If they want ice cream or chips, we get them when we eat out. We work moderation into the discussion and thought they are still treats, we don’t tie it into our financial budget but rather our health budget. Hopefully I can steer my kids away from the mistakes I made and I can grow stronger about resisting them while I develop better eating habits.