karen header 3

Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life.Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

[No unsolicited guest blogs accepted, thank you]

Let’s Stop Calling Food Junk

I’ve heard the term “junk food” so often that I’ve never thought much about it, except to feel antipathy toward its pejorative slant. Therefore, I was interested to read an article in ConscienHealth entitled “Junk Food, Junk Diets, and Junk Policy for Obesity” (http://conscienhealth.org/2017/01/junk-food-junk-diets-junk-policy-obesity/) based on some reviews in the International Journal of Obesity about the term.
 
The Journal article (as described in ConscienHealth) asks, ”Is smoked salmon junk food? Its fat and salt content might meet the WHO [World Health Organization] definition. Is a rich meal at an expensive restaurant junk food? Or are we more comfortable calling a cheap meal at McDonald’s junk food?”
 
Gregorio Milani, author of the Journal article, says: “Each food can be just a player in the field of unhealthy nutrition. No single category of food can be identified as the main guilty factor. Consequently, in addressing obesity and obesity-related diseases, we think that the term “junk food” is likely to be pointless, and should be replaced by the concept of “junk dietary pattern,” to be considered along with individual genetics and lifestyle.”
 
Why do we need to use the term at all? Online dictionaries define junk as trash, clutter, useless, worthless, or poor quality. Ouch! Using the term is like calling food “bad.” These are moralistic terms that make us feel immoral when we eat so-called “junk food.” Of course, I understand how this usage came about: From our idea that food that has little nutritional value should be considered a bad choice for us. The problem is that when we eat food we think of as “bad,” we mistakenly start to think of ourselves as bad.
 
Why not simply call foods high or low in nutrition, or nutritionally dense or empty? I know these terms don’t roll off the tongue as does “junk food,” but at least they attach no judgmental connotation attached to them. How do you feel when you crave or think about having eaten “junk food”? You feel like junk! But are you? Of course not.
 
I don’t want to sound like a ninny and be accused of splitting hairs about language, but sometimes we need to take heed about what we say in order to make sure that it’s enhancing “normal” eating and not promoting a bad/good view of food or ourselves. The fact is that being a “normal” eater includes occasionally eating low-nutrition food which should not make us ashamed, so why call it “junk”? I can live without the term “junk food,” but I wouldn’t be all that pleased about forgoing non-nutritional foods once in a while.
 
Best,
Karen
 
Why Saying You’re Sorry is a Most Valuable Life Sk...
Book Review – The Intuitive Eating Workbook

shelf new

EBProfessionalBadgeLarge

This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.  Privacy Policy