Over time, various ‘recreational foods’ have permeated into every aspect of our culture. We eat them not only for the way they taste, but also for entertainment. And despite ample and increasingly strong evidence about their risks to our health, we consume more than ever. While our individual reasons may be diverse, the primary motivation is the same in each. Scientific studies clearly demonstrate eating junk food has similar addictive patterns to drugs like cocaine and even heroin.
The recreational or ‘junk’ foods mentioned here can be categorized into 4 basic groups:
1. Soft Drinks – This category contains any drink with large amounts of sweetener like sugar or especially high fructose corn syrup. This includes soda, flavored waters, and even most commercially sold ‘fruit juices’. Each glass often contains enough calories in simple carbohydrates to make a medium size meal all by itself, with almost no nutrition.
2. Fatty Foods – While dietary fat is not nearly as dangerous as sugar (as the marketing for ‘low fat’ food implies), the risk level depends upon the balance of your diet. And there are many fatty foods, including hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, breaded foods, and more. A Western cultural tradition of eating many animal based fats without a proper balance of plants contributes to a variety of health issues both mentally and physically.
3. Starchy Foods – This may now actually be the largest, most abused category out of the four. Starch – root vegetables, grains, and similar – is found in a huge variety of foods. Bread, chips, fries, pancakes, pasta, puffs, many more. These foods are either simple or complex carbohydrates which in many cases digest just as fast as sugar, leading to the same consequences (weight gain, heart damage, skin problems, etc).
4. Sweets – Another very abused category, though perhaps falling by the wayside as public institutions wake up to its dangers. Anything with unnatural amounts