The Junk-Health Food Trend

Growing up, we’ve all been told constantly, “too much sugar/fat/salt is bad for you.” But somewhere along the way, most of us stopped paying attention to every new warning because it seemed everything that tasted good was bad for some reason or another. The message resembled some of the claims from the various religions of our upbringing about the nature of sex; it was almost all bad.

When it comes to food, however, abstinence has never been a choice. And so we see the results. Obesity, cancer, myriad health problems and diseases either already are, or are becoming, epidemic -all because of that wonderful lard-filled, chocolate, deep-fried stuff. We’ve finally started making decisions like passing on trans fat, because we really do like being able to breathe and move and look good in tight pants.

You can imagine the dilemma of the junk food industry, which has been getting fat and healthy off you getting fat and unhealthy for generations. They’ve switched to non-trans fats, but that hasn’t been enough. So they’ve put vitamins in diet drinks, and as a result, got in trouble with the FDA. They’ve come out with flavored water with nutrients and touted it as healthy and essential, and guess what? It’s loaded with sugar. (You will NOT lose weight by drinking it.)

Once again, chocolate is savior – only this time, not in a comfort food sort of way. It has antioxidants! Well, it’s good for you if you stick to dark chocolate. That’s not a problem for me, but lots of people just don’t like it. So what’s a candy company to do?

Candy canes have peppermint oil! That’s good for stomachaches! So now they’re trying to market candy canes as healthy? They stopped short of telling people to eat candy canes for stomachaches, but glorified the effects of peppermint oil. Newsflash: people have been drinking peppermint tea or water with drops of peppermint oil in it to treat stomach pain and indigestion for thousands of years. Will a candy cane cure a stomachache? I haven’t tried it, but I’d rather drink the tea and forego all that sugar. It’s easier to get rid of the gut pain than it is to get rid of the gut.

I’m keeping an eye on this diet junk trend. Obviously, the general rule of thumb is still holding its ground; if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between significant new discoveries in science and superficial new ways that companies market and/or exploit those findings. But we’ve got one thing on our side folks: logic. It’s what we’re utilizing when we shrewdly look at a diet cola with vitamins inserted in it and scoff at the insult to our intelligence, or when we see “No Trans Fat!” on a bag of cheese puffs, and laugh inside. Thanks for the effort, corporate America, but you’re just going to have to do better than that if you want me to believe you’ve got my best interests in mind.

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