Have you ever wondered why you prefer junk food way over other healthy options?
Have you ever questioned why food commercials are so mouth-watering?
Did you know that the food industry is a growing multi-billion-dollar industry?
Well, the reason for that lays in two words, sensation and stimulation.
Our senses contribute to our pleasure, they are the windows to our enjoyment.
They eat before our stomachs.
Our brain, on the other hand, is designed to look for pleasure.
In fact, pleasure is a sought after mission for our brains.
Whatever makes it feel good will definitely get a “yes“.
Not only that, but our brains are smart enough to quantify pleasure experiences and choose among the best.
The guys at the food industry know that very well.
That is why they do their best to create the maximum pleasurable experience through their commercials to make your choice easier.
That is why, junk food is usually very tasty with a sensational aroma, and very easy to get.
In addition, dynamic contrast does play a significant role in the food pleasure experience.
Dynamic contrast is food texture, taste contrast, food temperature, and food meltdown.
That is another reason why you hardly find any food commercial without heat effects coming out of that stake or this turkey, or maybe cold drizzle on your favorite drink.
When our brain hears, sees, smells and tastes such effects, it sure goes for a “yes” every time you ask the question “to junk food or not to junk food?”
Our Brain, Fat Cells and Junk Food
Our brain is not the sole decision-maker in our food choices.
Our fat cells do have a say as well.
Our fat cells look for the high-calorie intake.
Fat cells are simply the cells responsible for storing energy.
Having said that, fat cells always look for energy.
Thus, low calories are never their choice.
So, when two plates are as equally sensational, yet, one is higher in calories than the other, we don’t hesitate twice, for its a mind, fat cells consent.
Give the gut a high caloric stimulation through protein, carbohydrates, and fats, and you have its blessings on whatever you choose.
Give your mind, on the other hand, salt, sugar, Monosodium glutamate which means “deliciousness” in Japanese, and you will make it very happy.
Our taste buds inside our mouths besides certain parts in our brains like the taste of emulations.
Emulations are food stimulants with characteristics similar to that of desired food.
Whether it is ice cream, chocolate, butter, Doritos, or sauces, the concentration effect of the hedonic taste solutes when made into emulations is the defining factor among all junk choices.
Even chefs are very good at creating emulations, they know all the secerts.
They, too, are very good at creating the perfect emulations in food, as stated by Chef Rowley Leigh, who is a food columnist for the Financial Times USA.
Mouth Watering and Junk Food
Of course, we all have experienced mouth-watering on the sight of food we perceive as tasty and delicious.
Mouth-watering, however, is not a random action from our mouths; it is an essential association of food pleasure.
Our saliva does play an essential role in the food pleasure experience.
It lubricates food and is critical for our taste buds tasting of hedonic solute.
By design, we prefer moister food.
That is why dry food like potato chips are usually salty and have a kind of texture that helps it melt inside our mouths.
Add fats to it, and you have additional lubrication and hence a perfect salivating food.
Salivating food or mouth-watering food is usually food of choice.
However, like mouth-watering, there is also saliva habituation, which means the more you eat the food you the like, the less we salivate.
Nevertheless, the guys at the cuisines know that too and make sure to find an alternative so that habituation doesn’t take place.
Ping-pong is when we drink soda to make food more digestible.
Or in other words, when we revert to food that helps clean the plate.
Our brain craves a thrilling experience, ones that trigger the release of endorphins.
Actually, this pleasure-reward system guides our behavior.
Through this system, we develop ingestion habits or in other words food addiction.
For the brain, crunching is one of these thrilling experiences.
A crunch with tasteful creamy structure is a trance food experience.
Such trance includes pizza, Oreo shake, cookies, and ice cream.
Besides, we always eat more when we are presented with varieties as this increases pleasure.
Junk Food and Super-Size
A well-known theory called supersize me indicates that we desire the supersized food more than the regular sizes.
Supersize coke, supersize fries, or supersize burgers are always the first choice.
Because most of our food contains addictive salt, sugar, and fats, we always tend to choose the supersize form of it because of the magnified eating response.
Believe it or not, the guys at McDonald’s, Papa Johns, KFC, and Hardees know that as well.
So, next time you are going for a supersize fires be conscious about it.
Besides the evoking taste, and smell, presentation of food plays an important role as well.
Food experience is when the taste, smell, environment, people and presentation come all in the same meal.
This experience creates what is called a “food memory“.
This memory is also is an important determining factor in your food decision.
That is why many times you go to your favorite restaurant to regenerate your sensational edible experience only to find the food not as good.
Food memories have its part in food cravings too.
This is why many restaurants make sure they give you a fantastic food experience, starting from the aroma of the place, to the blender sound and the coziness, and gestures of hospitality.
They care as much for your experience because they know this is how it will bring you back.
Another trick is to add familiar liked ingredients to new dishes so you would be motivated to try the new plate and hence add up to your experience.
They would always try and sell you the new dish by stressing on the feel-at-home ingredient to get your consent.
High Energy Food
Candies, chocolates, croissants, lasagne, pizza, and many other foods are high energy food, yet, very pleasurable, could there be a link?
Indeed, there is, high energy food is found to be more pleasurable than low energy ones.
That is why we would also choose the energy-rich empty-calorie food over the low energy high-calorie food, or in other words, we would always choose junk food over healthy options.
Junk Food and Our Health
36.6% of adults consumed fast food per day, as per the National Centre for Health Statistics.
Junk food increases the risk of type 2 diabetes in the west and coronary heart diseases in the east.
One serving of French fries per week increases the risk of breast cancer at a later age by 27%, as per the Journal of Adolescence Health.
Also, eating fast food once a week increases the risk of dying out of coronary heart disease by 20%.
The risk increases to 50% when eating junk food twice or thrice a week.
Junk food also leads to obesity, malnutrition and hence depression.
1.9 billion “not million, billion” adults are either overweight or obese, as per the World Health Organization.
Malnutrition opts for one-third of children’s death globally and is the number one health concern worldwide.
To say it loud, junk food is short term pleasure, long term pain, so choose wisely.
To Sum It Up
The reason why we prefer junk food over healthy options is not because of its benefits.
Junk food is a package with a lot of stimuli and sensations that trick our minds into wanting more.
Whether through a tricky aroma, salty or sugary taste, or attractive presentation, junk food always wins.
The people in the food industry spend millions of dollars on food commercial because they are sure they can shape your buying decision.
Besides the delicious taste and addictive flavors, the food industry does its best to create a fantastic food experience.
An experience that will make sure to repeat itself over and over again.
Our brain is wired to choose pleasure every time.
Not only that, but it has the ability to quantify the different pleasure experiences and choose among them.
That is why our cuisine friends compete to give us the best eating experience.
Besides our brain, our fat cells partake in the eating decision as well.
Choosing high-calorie food every time makes a healthy option even less and less appealing.
Not only that, but we are designed to want more of what makes us happy, we want the supersize.
As per the old saying “Easy comes, easy goes” junk food has a very dark side to it.
It is responsible for obesity, overweight, malnutrition and hence a lot of other diseases.
Anemia, heart diseases, diabetes, depression, indigestion problems, and breast cancer are potential threats to eating junk.
As the name entails “junk food” is junk, so stay away from it.