Junk foods are foods high in calories, salts, sugars and fats. Junk food isn’t healthy and should be avoided if consumed in excess. Junk food can also be called optional food or discretionary food.
Here are some examples of junk food:
- Cakes and biscuits
- Fast food (such as hot chips and burgers, pizzas, etc.)
- Chocolate and sweets
- Processed meats (like bacon)
- Snacks (e.g. chips)
- Sugary drinks (such as sports, energy, and soft drinks)
- Alcoholic drinks
Your risk of developing obesity and other long-term chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease may increase if your diet is high on fats, sugar, and salt.
These diseases include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- There are many types of cancers.
Although it can be hard to find healthy alternatives to junk food, the Health Star Rating System is an easy tool to help you assess how healthy a product is. It allows you to quickly and easily compare similar packaged foods.
Packaged foods can be rated from half a star to five stars based on their health. These ratings can be found on the packaging of packaged foods. It is important to remember that the ratings are very general and may not accurately reflect the nutritional value of certain products.
Also, the Health Star Rating system only applies to packaged food sold in shops. It doesn’t consider fresh, unpackaged foods such as fruits and vegetables.
How can I make healthier food choices?
It is important to know the nutritional content of the food that you purchase. This can be done by looking at the nutrition panel on all packaged foods in Australia. You can find information on food labels such as energy (kilojoules), fat, protein, carbs, sugars and fibre, as well as the recommended serving sizes.
Double-check claims about nutritional value when evaluating a product. These can be misleading. A product may be described as light or lite if labelled so. This could refer to its colour or flavor. This could mean that the product is still ‘full fat’. Make sure you check the nutrition panel at the back to find out the exact fat content.
Another common claim is that a product has no added sugar or is sugar-free. This claims that a product does not contain any added sucrose or table sugar. However, it could still contain other types. You should be aware that even sugar-free products can contain high amounts of salt and fat.
Also, be aware that some products labelled as “health foods” such as fruit juices or muesli bars may be junk food due to high amounts of sugar, salt, and fat. For a better idea of the product’s health, check its Health Star Rating. This rating system may not be as accurate as advertised claims, but it can give you a better idea of how healthy the product is.
Can I eat a little bit of junk food while maintaining a healthy diet?
According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADL), a small amount can be added to a healthy and balanced diet. You should limit your intake of junk food to a small amount and only occasionally. Most Australians consume too much junk food. They should try to eat less of it and less often. It is important to balance junk food with more exercise to burn extra calories. This will prevent you from gaining excess weight.
Junk food is not recommended for small, overweight, or do not exercise a lot. Reduce the amount of junk food you eat if you want to lose weight.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines can help you determine if you need to change your diet or guide your food and beverage intake.
What can I do to reduce my intake of junk food?
It can be difficult to cut down on the junk food you consume, but you don’t have to stop eating your favorite foods.
Here are some tips to help you create healthy eating habits.
- You can plan your meals and snacks so that you can eat healthy food, not just what’s in your pantry. You can also plan to save money and make shopping easier.
- Choose whole foods such as wholemeal or wholegrain carbohydrates like bread, pasta, and flour.
- To avoid added salt, sugar, and saturated fat, choose fresh fruits for dessert rather than junk food.
- Use the nutritional information panel at the back of your packet to check the nutritional value of your food.
- Be wary of advertising tricks, such as claims that a product doesn’t have ‘any added sugar’. These products can still have high kilojoules and fat. A product may claim to be “reduced in fat” if it contains less fat than the previous version. However, it could still contain high levels of fat.
- Compare similar packaged goods using the Health Star Rating System to find the best one.
DO YOU WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT? – Use the BMI Calculator To determine if you are within a healthy weight range.
What makes junk food so attractive?
Although we might feel that junk food is delicious because it tastes good, there’s a scientific reason why we want more. The brain encourages us to find pleasure in things, even eating delicious food. This reward system is a way for our brain to encourage us.
The reward circuit in the brain switches on when we eat delicious food, even junk food. Dopamine is released from the brain. Dopamine is released into the brain, which floods it with pleasure. The brain then creates more dopamine receptors in response. Just as people addicted to drugs or alcohol need a higher dose of the drug over time, junk food cravings increase with every bite.
Are there health problems associated with eating junk food?
Consuming a lot of junk food can lead to a decrease in your health and well-being.
You may gain weight by eating junk food.
- Stress levels are rising
- Sleeping problems
- Energy levels of the dead
- concentration difficulties
- feeling down
- tooth decay
Long-term, junk food consumption can lead to:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart problems (such as heart disease)
- certain cancers
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- eating disorders
These problems are caused by a diet high in sugar, salt, trans, and saturated fats and lacking essential nutrients such as fibre, vitamins, and minerals.