Geez, it seems every time I turn around someone is telling me how to be healthier and live longer through the food that I eat, the diets I am on, the exercise I do, and the way I live my life. I imagine that all of us want to live longer which means that we probably should watch what we eat in our diets, probably exercise a little more than we do, and make the most of our lives. A little advice now and then probably does not hurt . . . but, I am ready to draw the line as these pundits of health have crossed one too many of what I consider to be sacred ground in my own life. The latest is has to do with what I consider to be “comfort food” and the health experts have labeled to be “junk food”.
I guess I should qualify that what I call “comfort food” I grew up with as being called “snacks” by those adults who graced my life. Of course that was a different time and mind set than today’s more health conscience crowd, but around the house I grew up in they were snacks . . . snacks that were always a treat to receive. I guess that is probably why I think of them as being “comfort foods” today . . . they bring back fond memories of childhood. But, now, they are considered “junk food”.
Here is a list of the so-called “junk foods” that health experts are claiming are bad for one’s health because of fat, sugar, salt, and calories: potato chips; tortilla chips; snack mixes like Chex Mix; corn-based snacks like Cheetos; gummy candy; hard candy; packaged cookies like Oreo Cookies; snack cakes like Twinkies; baked goods like those powdered sugar covered mini donuts; and, chocolate candy bars. I’m surprised they didn’t list microbrews . . . I would have had nothing left in my diet worth eating!
Now, having looked over their list of “junk food” I can admit that for the most part there are some that even I would agree are “junk food”, but the rest I would throw over into the category of “comfort food”. Remember that “comfort food” is that food that we reach for that makes us feel good when we don’t quite feel up to snuff or we are having a bad day . . . a couple of bites of “comfort food” we perk up and feel better . . . so what if the health experts are going to say it is a sugar rush. I prefer to think of it more on the spiritual and psychological side as being beneficial because it makes me feel good.
My problem with the whole article that I stumbled upon was the fact that the examples that were shared about these “bad” foods were that they practically used stuff right out of my kitchen cabinets. For example, potato chips . . . they chose Lays potato chips . . . “no one can eat just one.” That is their motto and I can attest to it being true . . . try to sit in front of the television and eat just one Lays potato chip . . . it can’t be done! Closest I have come so far is about a half of pound. How could something that taste so good, be so bad for you? Well, they say it is the fat, salt, and calories packed into those thin delectable chips that makes them so bad . . . but, that is why I find comfort in them . . . I like them!
Chex Mix . . . over-the-top sodium . . . too much salt. The health experts say that one serving (about a cup) is approximately a third of the sodium any person should consume in a day. To tell you the truth, I do not find much comfort in only one serving of Chex Mix when sitting in front of the television watching The Simpsons. Besides they package the mix in those nice little bags that easily sit in one’s lap. But it is the sodium, the salt, that makes this such a wonderful “comfort food”.
In the area of corn-based foods they went after Cheetos. Now Cheetos are not one of my top “comfort foods” because that orange artificial cheese they coat the corn-based product with gets all over my fingers . . . then I end up wiping them on my jeans and it leaves a big orange stain on my jeans . . . then the dogs follow me all around the house wanting to sniff and lick my jeans . . . but, there are times when I crave Cheetos—especially the crunchy ones. The health experts proclaimed that these sorts of products are some the unhealthiest things that a person can eat. They say they have no nutritional value as they are fried and loaded with sodium . . . but they taste so good.
In the category of store-bought cookies they took on two of America’s favorites . . . Keebler’s Chips Deluxe and Oreos. How un-American can one get . . . how un-patriotic! The problem? Trans fats . . . whatever those are! Apparently trans fats are what give these cookies their shelf life . . . the ability to taste great even after having sat on the shelf in the kitchen cabinet for months on end before being eaten. It is probably the reason that these cookies float in milk and never absorb it. But, they taste so good!
The health experts really pulled Hostess and Little Debbie products through the wringer as “unhealthy” for people . . . especially Twinkies (which I agree with because it is like trying to eat a sponge filled with whip cream) and Little Debbie Swiss Rolls. Little Debbie Swiss Rolls have been a staple in my diet for over five decades. They are cheap. They taste great when they come out of the refrigerator. But, the experts agree, there is nothing good about them except their taste . . . at least we agree there.
They took on those mini-donuts that are covered with powdered sugar . . . the food of every college drunk. The health experts stated that these were the “perfect storm of saturated fat, sodium, and copious amounts of sugar.” After a night of heavy drinking, with little or no money to buy real food, nothing beats a package of powdered sugar donuts. Brings back fond memories as I write about them.
Lastly, chocolate . . in particular chocolate bars. Apparently there is over 20 grams of sugar in most chocolate bars. I guess 20 grams of sugar in one sitting is not good for the human body. But I am not a big chocolate bar fan . . . I prefer my chocolate over raisins—which seems to be a healthier alternative, but I am sure that the unless the raisins are organically-grown in some third world country that they are probably not good for consumption either.
I guess I would be less touchy about this advice if they had not stepped on my toes by going after some of my favorite “comfort foods” . . . or it they had not labeled them as being “junk food”. At the rate that the health experts are going there is not going to be much left for any of us to eat or enjoy eating. It gets tiresome feeling guilty about having to sneak into the garage to enjoy a few potato chips or to indulge in a few Little Debbie snack cakes. Yet, on the other hand, it is creating a sense of risky adventure . . . death-defying risks . . . that creates a little adrenalin rush to go with the sugar rush. I kind of like that “living on the edge” feeling it brings to the equation. Still, I would like the health experts to back off for a little while . . . to let me eat my “junk food”—I mean, “comfort food” in peace. Besides these so-called “junk foods” have been around a long, long time.
Potato chips have been around since the 1800s. Oreos made their appearance into the American diet in 1912. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups appeared in the Roaring Twenties (1923 to be precise). Snickers and Twinkies—a double whammy—welcomed the Thirties by showing up in 1930. Kraft macaroni and cheese (still one of my favorites with a couple of slices of Kraft American Cheese Singles thrown in) also came in the Thirties—1937. M&Ms were 1940 with Peanut M&Ms coming 14 years later in 1954. Cheetos were 1948. Flavored potato chips . . . only took a hundred years for them to appear in the 1950s. Pop Tarts and Doritos came just in time for the free-loving do anything era of the mid-1960s.
It is not like “junk food” or “comfort food” hasn’t been around for a while. Obviously there must be some reason, with it being proven to be so bad for people’s health, that the Federal Food and Drug Administration hasn’t yet ban them from the market. Shoot, I think I know why . . . they taste so darn good! If they didn’t they wouldn’t still be around today.
So, in conclusion, I wish the health experts would keep their research and opinions to themselves. I wish they would quit messing around with my junk . . . food that is. I wish they would leave me alone and allow me to eat myself to an early grave . . . at least I will die happy. As Homer Simpson says, “Mmmmmmmm . . . donuts!”