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The Junk-food Jungle: My Theory on Weight Gain!

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The Junk-food Jungle: My Theory on Weight Gain!

Postby alex_bilson » Fri Sep 08, 2006 12:19 pm

Hello all.

I thought I would have a bit of a ponder about why it is that so many of us find ourselves in these predicaments where we have put on a little or a lotta weight. Of course there are many many reasons... ranging from medical reasons to factors of society. Society is one that I want to think about.

If you have time, have a read.

I was always a fine weight through school, a 10-12. Weight was never a problem- why? Because we ate fairly healthily at home, and because I had no extra cash to spend on food!

As soon as I started earning money, driving, and getting out into the world, there was a hell of a lot more choice as far a food was concerned compared what I could pack in my school lunch box and what my folks served up for dinner.

I have steadily gained weight since starting University after high school. I went from 60kg to an average of 66.6kg over the past 5 years. The highest weight I've been was around 68kg. I have become used to the 66.6kg as I have been this for a couple of years and I'm even reasonably happy there- not sublimely happy though, and not enough to love-myslef-sick, in the words of Kim of Kath and Kim, in a bikini. The fact of the matter is that I shouldn’t be content to nest at this weight simply because I know that my weight gain has been a result of eating junk- and what I consider a lot of it, at that.

The real problem, for myself at least and maybe others, is the sheer volume of junk food that is available to us so readily. I’d go to Uni... what's there? Every chocolate bar you could dream of, chips, fatty hot fried food, etc. I walk to Tafe from Central Station and pass no less than four 7-11's alone over a fifteen minute walk. That's just 7 11's, that's not all the other food outlets selling chocolate, soft drinks, fatty fried foods and so on, along the way.

I work in the hospitality industry where fired chips, sausage rolls, meat pies, scones, spring rolls and so on are always under my nose.

3 minutes from my house is a KFC, a Maccas and a Subway. 3 minutes and a parking spot away is a Wendy's, Gloria Jeans, Michelle’s Patisserie and a Fish and Chip shop.

On top of that, in my circle of friends, as our teens are behind us and we near our mid-twenties, we are more inclined for a bit of 'wining and dining'... so what will it be- Thai, Chinese, Italian, Mexican? Coz we're not going to Sumo Salad for dinner!

Honestly- it is so very easy to succumb to these unhealthy foods. My personal theory is that as a child in my family, chocolate and Chinese take-away were treats. Mum would sometimes buy us a little chocolate Freddo on grocery day; and the excitement that accompanied the prospect of take-away for dinner is testament to the fact that it was indeed an occasional treat, and we knew it!

So we have two things in operation here... One: Food as a reward, a treat. Two: the availability of these foods- back then I only really ate what I was given.

NOW, as soon as you get a taste of freedom- a bit more cash, and a car- throw in a few of life's problems which never used to be there (boyfriends, money, interviews, jobs, assignments, presentations, driving tests, family issues... whatever!) and you've got a few more reasons to indulge in the foods that were once for special occasions only. Slowly, the foods that were once labeled treats can no longer be rightfully called so because you start eating them on a regular basis. You have the cash, you have the car, you have the little problems that you jusitify cushioning with food. You 'treat' yourself crazy and before you know it, this is the new and normal way you eat, and you've put on those extra kilos.

And this is where we're at now. One of the best things I can do personally is to recognize this. I want to go back to seeing food as the way I used to- when food was what you ate for nourishment when you were hungry, and when that cup-cake at a birthday party was SO exciting coz it was special! I don't want to be offered a cupcake and fear it and count it's calories! I want to be able to say, 'YES THANKS YUMMY! What a treat!'

And the only way we can say this is to change our lifestyle, so that chances are I did NOT already eat a cupcake yesterday, just because I walked past one at 'Donuts Coffee Muffins'.

I'm on a mission to pretend the 7-11's aren't there. I'm on a mission to re-normalise my eating habits, so that the next time I go out to dinner, it is a special occasion (Read: I won't have scoffed 'All You Can Eat for $7' Chinese food out of a plastic container the day before); and so that when someone gives me a box of chocolates on my birthday, it's actually special, because I did not eat a Mars on Monday, a Twix on Tuesday, a Milky Way on Wednesday, a Twirl on Thursday, and a Freddo on Friday.

And I'm excited about that!
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Postby kate_turner2000 » Fri Sep 08, 2006 12:51 pm

Hi alex :)
that was an interesting read and you have obviously put a lot of thought into it :) i remember the days when a freddo was a treat as well! lol. i have also found that since moving out of home i was eating more rubbish because i could. no one was here to stop me! and i think becoming an adult makes you able to make more decisions on your own- like eating whatever you want :)
damn independence!!! lol but at least we have come to a point in our lives where we are making the right decisions about our food intake and nutritional value etc. i hope that i can make the right decisions from now on so my daughter doesnt pick up on my bad habits!!
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Postby KimE » Fri Sep 08, 2006 6:35 pm

Thanks for you ponderings Alex.

I have finally gotten myself round to thinking along the lines you talked about. I tend to look at the nutrition I will get from a food item rather than just the calories of it. For example, I can have a chocolate bar lets say its around 250 cals that my body gets fat and carbs (mostly sugar), maybe some small amount of protein. Or I can have a ham, cheese (low fat) and salad multigrain sandwich for around the same cals from which my body gets protein, carbs (little sugar), good fats from the grains, fibre and calcium and it won't spike my blood sugar levels through the roof and possibly have me craving another sugar hit later. Hey, that isn't to say I don't eat crap at all...trust me I do, but I do tend to look at it more as a treat because it is not the norm for me. And if I decide to have chocolate or something convenient from a packet or takeaway foods then I go in knowing exactly what I am doing, no excuses. I have information at my fingertips to make informed choices if I don't already know.
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Postby Ally » Fri Sep 08, 2006 8:46 pm

Thanks for that Alex. I agree wholly with what you are saying from start to finish.

Interesting to note that I live in Rockhampton and there was an article in our local rag about the fact that Rocky has 77 fast food joints and only 46 restaurants, (real restaurants not macca's) there are 4 new complexes opening up here real soon and guess what the they all are?? food malls?? HELLO DO WE NEED ANYMORE??? Out of the all the food malls going up here only one of them contains a place called Jack Rabbits Salad Bar, (where they make a mean salad and yummy healthy rolls), the rest are icecreamery's, pizza joints, and in general junk food crap.

I guess it makes the importance of planning ESSENTIAL.

I agree with you Kim on the Calorie exchange thing...people would be surprised what you can eat healthly, in exchange for one choccie or bag of chips!!
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Postby KimE » Sat Sep 09, 2006 7:57 am

You got Ally, planning is essential, at least for me. I plan my meals 2 weeks in advance. This not only sets out my meals and lets me make sure the balance is good but also help with shopping. It doesn't mean that I always stick wholly to the plan for instance I may have chicken salad on my menu and then decide for a tuna sandwich but the planning gives me a strong guide and I find that is what I need.
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Postby Ally » Sat Sep 09, 2006 8:06 am

yep yep that is right. It doesn't mean you can't deviate from it (as you said Kim) to make a different healthy choice, but it sure is good to know that you have a plan in place to stop you heading for takeaway! I try and keep at least 3 lean cuisines (and some steam fresh veges) in the freezer too. They dont' make up for the freshly prepared meals, but at least it is better than when you have had a "day" and just couldn't prepare a meal...at least there is a reasonably healthy choice there....no temptation!!
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Postby KimE » Sat Sep 09, 2006 8:22 am

I have been thinking about keeping a few lean cuisines in the freezer actually. I know there are some really yummy choices and so convenient if I get home and just can't be bothered to cook. Hubby and I eat separately for a range of reasons not just the food choices so at times I am not interested in standing over the cooker and end up with something quick and cold, usually a salad type of thing or mountain bread wrap. It's still healthy but in winter I want something warm...is it still winter? It feels like it. :(
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