Why junk food keeps me healthy

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Why junk food keeps me healthy

Enzo Cabaltica

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I can’t spend more than two hours without eating. I don’t like feeling hungry. While I eat my fair share of fruits and vegetables, I prefer eating junk food (who doesn’t?). My backpack is always filled with snacks and treats such as chips and cookies. My all-time favorite food comes from In-N-Out Burger: a double patty hamburger with grilled onions, extra lettuce, tomatoes and animal sauce. Served with crispy french fries and a large neapolitan milkshake, it is my ideal meal. Just the thought of it makes my stomach rumble.

Unfortunately, my favorite meal (or snack, depending on how hungry I am) lacks nutritional value. According to the nutrition page on In-N-Out’s website, a double-patty burger, fries and a shake contains a total of 86 grams of fat, which exceeds the recommended daily intake of 67 grams for a 2,000 calorie diet. The burger and fries also have a whopping 1,690 mg of sodium, surpassing the ideal limit of 1,500 mg. The milkshake contains 65 grams of sugar, which is about 15 teaspoons and will probably make me hyper for a few hours. 

Junk food like my precious In-N-Out seems to be viewed by most as a guilty pleasure that should be avoided. My friends enjoy binge-eating unhealthy food, but some of them try to cut down by abstaining from certain treats. One of my friends gave up Takis after loving them for six years because he wanted to slim down. Another friend of mine who is trying to build muscle meticulously avoids excess carbs, which means no candy, chips or ice cream.

I don’t understand how people can completely give up junk food. I know that eliminating junk from your diet makes you healthier. I know that a large cup of boba can have more sugar than a can of coke, and that Red #40 dye in Takis and Cheetos is a possible carcinogen. I want to be healthy. There have been weeks when I eat almost no junk food and feel good. But I have never considered depriving myself of my favorite junk food just for the sake of being fit. To me, peak health is not worth giving up the pleasure of eating food that I love. Eating at In-N-Out is so gratifying that I forget how much sodium, oil, and trans fat I am consuming.

I enjoy savoring my food and its delicious flavors. As soon as I start munching on my burger and fries, I feel satisfied. As my stomach is filled, my mind feels fulfilled as well. I feel comforted as I consume my meal. The flavors momentarily distract me from my stress from school and college application deadlines. Eating is one of the simplest pleasures I can experience, which is why I snack frequently. 

Healthy food rarely tastes as good as junk, and In-n-Out is no exception. The french fries deep-fried in sunflower oil are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, and taste savory without being overly salty. The milkshake complements the crisp fries with its sweet creaminess. I can taste all 65 grams of sugar and I love it. The burger itself is warm and filling. 

Rather than sacrificing my beloved burger, I just limit my portions. Instead of forgoing junk food altogether, I enjoy it in moderation. I eat only when I am hungry, and keep my portions small so that I don’t overeat. I also only get In-N-Out about twice a month at most. Waiting weeks in between each trip to the fast-food joint makes me appreciate every bite even more. I accept junk food as a necessary enjoyment that keeps me happy. Yes, staying fit is important to me, but I’ll never sacrifice the blissful experience of sinking my teeth into a freshly grilled burger.