Why Do We Love Junk Food When It’s Bad for Us?

Why Do We Love Junk Food So Much?Why do we love junk food so much? Nearly everyone feels the same way about it, even if it’s terrible for our nutrition when we have it regularly or in large amounts. We absolutely crave it.  And we crave it in ways that simply don’t happen with nutritious foods, even the ones we really like.

Why Do We Love Junk Food So Much?

Asking why we love junk food is a valid question. After all, when you think about it, there are lots of healthy foods you probably like. Maybe you like apples a lot. Or carrots.  You might find watermelon or cucumber wonderfully refreshing in the summertime. But have you ever found yourself thinking: “I could really go for a huge plate of carrots right now. I’d give anything for tons of carrots!”? Likely not!

That said, you’ve definitely said that you were craving fries, pizza, burgers, potato chips, or chocolate at some point. Likely some point recent enough that you can remember the specific moment. So why do we love junk food to such a degree, even over the nutritious alternatives that are still very tasty?

It Starts with Flavor

Yes, the flavor isn’t the be-all and end-all of why we like junk food so much.  As we’ve established, you can love strawberries or blueberries, but you likely don’t crave them like you crave ice cream or cheesecake.

Still, flavor does get things started. It usually comes with lots of taste in sweet, greasy, or salty areas that we find comforting and all-around delicious. That sweet section is particularly dangerous in terms of cravings, but many people are surprised to find that they are craving sugars in foods that don’t even taste sweet.  Sugars in various forms are found in pretty much everything.

It Looks Delicious

This isn’t the case all around, but it is frequently a factor. After all a big plate of beige food isn’t really that visually appealing, even with the sad little sprig of parsley on the edge.  However, many junk foods have additives to make their colors more vibrant, or to add colors that Mother Nature never intended them to have.  This is particularly true in products marketed to children, but by the time we get older, we’ve built up a sense of nostalgia with food that looks that way, and it can still appeal to us to a certain degree.

Evolution Makes Us Love Junk Food!

Evolutionarily speaking, the critter that has enough to eat that it can produce offspring that will survive and reproduce is the one that has its genetic code passed on.  So, humans – or our ancestors – who were inclined to eat when the eating was good were more likely to survive to the point that they could have babies and raise them until they could do the same. When those humans – or our ancestors – found high-calorie foods to be appealing like those high in sugars and fats, they’re the ones that will have the energy to escape danger and survive times of low food availability, among other threats to successful reproduction.

Therefore, one of the reasons why we love junk food so much is worked right into our genetic code.  Of course, those ancestors didn’t evolve with a future of this kind of sugary and fatty snack available on a regular basis, or a gene might have developed for greater moderation!

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