Updated: Apr 28, 2022
Just UNsuitable to (K)consume!
The Cambridge dictionary defines the word “Junk” in different ways - as a noun/ verb/ adjective. Each of the definitions fit the term “Junk food” perfectly!
Junk as a Noun: Rubbish. Things that are considered to be of no use or value, or of low quality, and even dangerous (like heroin and such substances), and things we ought to clear out.
Junk as a Verb: To throw out something because it does not work well or is worthless.
Junk as an Adjective: Used to describe mail, email, etc. that is sent without asking for it (body doesn’t need junk food)
My Take: I do not give “junk food” the privilege of being called “food” in the first place! It is not worthy of this name. Food is something that is edible and nourishes us to “be in health”. Junk is edible but makes us perish. What doesn’t look, feel, taste, smell and resemble anything plants originally produced, is just JUNK! These items are highly processed and refined - tasty, but empty (of nutrients), and tempting (slow poison).
What they have lost during processing: JUNK has lost the beneficial fiber from complex carbohydrates that protect us from lifestyle and degenerative diseases, natural safe proteins (required for proper growth, development and repair), natural forms of fats (required for healthy brain and nerves function), micronutrients (to assist in repair and rejuvenation), antioxidants and phytochemicals (that protect us from oxidative damage and inflammation leading to diseases).
What they have gained during processing: Refined carbohydrates, damaged proteins, excessive and dangerous inflammatory fats and unsafe added flavors, colors, preservatives, taste enhancers, excessive refined salt and more. All these cause inflammation throughout the body damaging cells/ tissues/ body proteins/ DNA etc. leading to many chronic diseases. They can decrease blood supply or even cut it off, resulting in minor issues like pains, swelling etc, to major life threatening issues like heart attacks and strokes.
Today, lifestyle degenerative and autoimmune disorders have become rampant, mainly because of the extensive consumption of JUNK in almost every meal. Rarely consuming them is considered less damaging, but this is a fallacy. Every time we eat them, they are compelling and addictive, and thus reducing their consumption/ getting rid of them becomes a bigger struggle. The vicious cycle continues.
People do not consume junk because they are hungry. Cravings drive them to eat unhealthily. JUNK taps into the same dopamine reward system that drives people to keep smoking cigarettes, using marijuana, and drinking alcohol in spite of knowing its ill effects.
How does one differentiate between hunger and cravings? If one feels like eating a specific food item and keeps longing for it again and again, that is simply what an addiction or craving is. When you are hungry, you are willing to eat any food item, and do not crave for specific items. Nipping the cravings in the bud is important.
In the beginning it all looks good, as if we have good control over when and how much JUNK we consume. The body also seems fine with such consumption (ie. no diseases seem to have developed so far…) This is because the body takes a long time to develop diseases via wrong eating and living - it tries to adjust and accommodate in every possible way, to bring itself back to a healthy state. When this continues for longer, it has no other way but to breakdown. Finally, organs/ organ systems that carry risk factors hereditarily start giving in. This is the reason we see a husband and wife eating the same food for many years, but developing different diseases.
The younger the body, the better its coping skills. So, if you are young and all is well despite your abuse, be thankful and make necessary changes as soon as possible. Don’t wait till it reaches a state where you might not have the time to correct, but will have plenty to regret!
Yes, there can be exceptions to this rule. People who carry wonderful genes - because their parents and/or grandparents ate and lived right - can manage to be healthy for longer. We do see people who do everything wrong …but seem to be healthy to a large extent and for a long time.
The beauty of the body is it doesn’t take a long stretch of time to reverse these diseases. Just a few weeks or months of eating and living right is going to do the miracle, to the extent possible, unless it has reached an irreparable state. This is because every cell in the body including the heart and brain cells are replaced at different intervals. So - we have the opportunity to heal and rejuvenate in every moment of time.
"Those who don’t have time for EATING RIGHT... will sooner or later… have to find time for ILLNESS."
SOLUTION: Retrace your steps... And here is how...
Let start with an example. If I keep thinking of Gulab Jamun, its sweetness, softness, texture, how it melts in the mouth, and how a particular restaurant serves the best Gulab Jamuns… the desire to consume it increases, and there comes a point when I can no longer resist it, and I am ready to do anything to get it. I know of clients who fly to another city just to enjoy a particular food item in a specific place/ restaurant! It is the same with any “sense object”. People go to the extent of lying/ stealing/ killing to acquire something they badly desire.
So, the first step is to stop thinking about the Gulab Jamun (or any sense object). The second is to take some time and analyze the effects/ implications of consuming it (knowledge). This knowledge will bring in enough sense to stop us. And then, it’s time to find some healthy alternative. Interestingly, contemplation with the right knowledge also has a similar effect - the desire to stick to eating the right things. Like-minded people, right intentions, and healthy spaces help change behaviors which lead to the right habits. When practiced regularly these habits become inherent - a part of our nature itself. Thus, we can break this cycle of addictions.
There are many tools which can help us. As the mind is central, our breath plays a major role (of a bridge between body and mind). Traditional Hatha Yoga - including Yoga Asanas, Pranayama, meditation, and relaxation techniques - fixes nutritional deficiency, and deficiencies in any sphere of life (ie. the lack of love, trust… and even nutrition). Other paths of Yoga like Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga will also help.
This has been described beautifully in Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad-Gita:
ध्यायतो विषयान्पुंस: सङ्गस्तेषूपजायते | सङ्गात्सञ्जायते काम: कामात्क्रोधोऽभिजायते || 62||
dhyāyato viṣhayān puṁsaḥ saṅgas teṣhūpajāyate saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ kāmāt krodho ’bhijāyate
dhyāyataḥ - contemplating; viṣhayān - sense objects; puṁsaḥ - of a person; saṅgaḥ - attachment; teṣhu - to them (sense objects); upajāyate - arises; saṅgāt - from attachment; sañjāyate - develops; kāmaḥ - desire; kāmāt - from desire; krodhaḥ - anger; abhijāyate - arises
Meaning: While contemplating on the objects of the senses, one develops attachment to them. Attachment leads to desire, and from desire arises anger.
क्रोधाद्भवति सम्मोह: सम्मोहात्स्मृतिविभ्रम: | स्मृतिभ्रंशाद् बुद्धिनाशो बुद्धिनाशात्प्रणश्यति || 63|| krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ sammohāt smṛiti-vibhramaḥ
smṛiti-bhranśhād buddhi-nāśho buddhi-nāśhāt praṇaśhyati
krodhāt - from anger; bhavati - comes; sammohaḥ - clouding of judgement; sammohāt - from clouding of judgement; smṛiti - memory; vibhramaḥ - bewilderment; smṛiti-bhranśhāt - from bewilderment of memory; buddhi-nāśhaḥ - destruction of intellect; buddhi-nāśhāt - from destruction of intellect; praṇaśhyati - one is ruined
Meaning: Anger leads to clouding of judgment, which results in bewilderment of the memory. When the memory is bewildered, the intellect gets destroyed; and when intellect is destroyed, one is ruined.
Anger, greed, lust, pride, arrogance and foolhardiness (6 vices) are considered as diseases of the mind in the scriptures. And since we do not recognize them as mental diseases, we do not try to cure or correct them. Now attachment seems quite harmless by itself, but the problem is that from attachment comes desire. Once desire develops, it leads to two more problems - greed and anger. Greed comes from the fulfillment of desire. If you satisfy desire, it leads to greed. Thus, desire is never reduced by satiating it. Anger comes when fulfillment of desire is obstructed. Anger impairs judgment as intellect gets clouded by the haze of emotions. When the intellect is clouded, it leads to disorientation of memory due to the surge of emotions. Bewilderment of memory results in destruction of discrimination of the intellect. And since the intellect is the internal guide, when it gets destroyed, one is ruined. (Ref: Holy-bhagavad-gita.org)
This applies to every path of life. We need to learn to have mastery over senses by using healthy tools.
Edited by: Ms. Savitha Reddy