Planning to Celebrate National Junk Food Day?
By Joan Kent, PhD
July 21 is National Junk Food Day. I'm not making this up. Did you even know there was one?
Both the creator and the origin of National Junk Food Day are unknown. (I wonder if that's due to embarrassment. But I digress....)
The day is "dedicated" to the snacks "everyone loves" – foods high in fats, sugars, salt and calories, with little or no nutritional value. As if we need an excuse in the U.S. to eat that stuff.
Celebrating National Junk Food Day involves consuming your favorite guilty pleasures. And then posting on social media using #NationalJunkFoodDay. (Yawn.)
Yes, I'm old, but really?
Believe it or not, several Junk Food Day websites exist. One site explained the day as a reaction to the unappealing routine of "being healthy, preparing a balanced meal, and snacking on carrot sticks." National Junk Food Day satisfies cravings for something "naughtier, greasier" than the unexciting meal you know you should eat instead.
Minimizing the Damage?
Another website suggests taking a walk or doing yard work to burn off the extra calories. As if it's only about calories.
My field is psychoactive nutrition, and I think about what a day of junk food can do to the brain: the food hangover and brain fog that make you feel as if you've been hit by a truck, for instance.
Or the cravings that occur for a week or more and make it difficult to get back on track.
Or results that never happen. One of my clients is following her doctor's instructions for a food plan that doesn't permit starches.
But she takes 2 days off from that plan every week and isn't losing weight. Yard work won't change that; she's a runner. My theory is her 5 "on" days are probably just detoxing her from the 2 days of damage.
Why Must Days Off Be an Accident?
A woman in the weight-loss program I ran for 13 years actually complained that I never got sick.
She told me how nice it would be to show up for the day's training – and find I was out sick.
Okay, first: If the instructor's sick, why not work out on your own instead of leaving the gym? The gym equipment still functions. So... really?
Second: Gee, thanks for wishing sickness upon me. What unpleasantries may I wish upon you? Yikes.
Days Off can take place anytime and for many reasons. If you want one, just don't go to the gym. Ah, but that means taking responsibility.
Apparently, It's All About No Guilt
It seems the idea of Nat'l Junk Food Day is to eat those favorite junk foods without guilt.
Many years ago, I was a fitness instructor for a one-week, residential seminar on weight loss. The co-instructor and I had no control over the nutrition guidelines, the seminar format – or the Day Off announced at the mid-week mark.
I objected. Why did we need a day off in a one-week program? Why teach people who were just getting started to take a day off every week? Didn't anyone besides me see the flaw in that plan? Hadn't anyone besides me ever had nutrition clients who couldn't lose weight because of a weekly day off that turned into a free-for-all?
Yet it wasn't my call. It was about lack of guilt.
If you eat healthfully the other 364 days a year, then by all means celebrate National Junk Food Day and enjoy it.
If you eat well 95% of the time and have a solid plan for dealing with life's inevitable nutrition interruptions – parties, weddings, and so on – you don't need a guilt-free Junk Food Day. You're already taking responsibility for days off.
Much brilliant work has been written about responsibility, so it would be foolish to discuss it here. But maybe it comes down to a difference between external and internal motivation.
Once we decide how we want to eat, why surrender our food choices to a holiday – any holiday? Why not stay internally motivated and take responsibility for both on-days and off-days?
My advice is to stick with your healthful food plan no matter what. Find other ways to enjoy holidays and parties – the company, the conversation, the laughter.
•Find the food plan that makes you feel great throughout the day. And eat that way throughout the year.•
Why give that up for an anonymously invented "holiday" that provides a trivial, external excuse to avoid responsibility?
Call me a party-pooper, but here's a quote on responsibility that made me grin the first time I read it.
"If you could kick in the pants the person responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month." – Theodore Roosevelt
Let's add a quote from the strength-training coach in the weight-loss program I ran for 13 years. When participants complained about not having days off, his very annoyed reply was:
"There are no days off! This is it – the way you eat, the way you train – all the time."
Good point, and I second that motion, National Junk Food Day or not.
Ready for a food plan that makes you feel great all day and gets you great results all year? Perfect, because that's what I do. Just visit http://www.LastResortNutrition.com and grab your free Empowered Eating consult.
You DON'T have to be a junk food addict, just someone who wants better health, better moods! Find out how great you can feel – and how easy it is to stick with it so you can get the results you want.
Brought to you by Dr. Joan Kent, best-selling author of Stronger Than Sugar: 7 Simple Steps to Defeat Sugar Addiction, Lift Your Mood, and Transform Your Health.