You may be wondering - what's the point of "International No Junk Food Day"?
In March 2014, USA Today reported that "Americans [had] spent $2.8 billion on candy [for Halloween in 2013] alone, [...] an annual $117 billion on fast food[,] [and that nearly] half of Americans drink soda daily." In May 2014, the Daily Mail reported that a study of 1000 adults found that they each spent, on average, $1200 on fast food in one year.
Food companies and restaurants serve us what we want... and most are serving either "junk food" or foods that are high in calories, sugar, fat, and salt. Can we spend 1 day eating fresher food that is healthier for our bodies and lower in sugar, fat and salt? Can we spend 1 day without buying soda, candy, and chips?
For many worldwide, going without so-called "junk food," or even changing the same "healthy" every day foods, poses a real challenge. The foods we are used to are convenient and taste good. What an accomplishment it would be to say: YES, we can change our eating habits for 1 day. In fact, can we imagine having 1 day when, in the U.S. and worldwide, the amount of money spent on fast and "junk" food is $0? Now that would be amazing.
More importantly, however, International No Junk Food Day is about creating healthy eating awareness. What is junk food to you? What is healthy food? How might your answer differ from or be similar to someone else's? International No Junk Food Day is about learning from one another, and stepping out of our daily routines to try something new.
Or you decide you don't want to learn anything new. No Junk Food Day is what you want it to be. Perhaps it's just about cutting out that one "indulgence" you have every day and replacing it with a fruit or vegetable. You make an effort to think about what you eat - but you don't do it alone.
"National" holidays are about sharing an experience. "International" days are about creating awareness. No Junk Food Day calls us, worldwide, to do both of those things: we accomplish one goal on one day together, while thinking about food in a way we don't normally. How awesome is that?
International No Junk Food Day or "i-NJFD" is a worthwhile endeavor, but what about all the other concerns that may have crossed your mind?
"I like junk food and I am not going to give it up" -- i-NJFD is not about eliminating junk food from your diet altogether. We all love our junk food, however we define it.
"I don't eat any junk food" -- If you believe that you don't eat any "junk food" that may be because you aren't defining the term broadly enough. Remember, junk food doesn't have to be limited to soda, candy, and potato chips. And if your diet is already limited to eating 5 fresh foods every day (water, protein, veggies, fruit, and real grains), then consider eating vegetables or a combination of foods you have never tried before.
"One day? What kind of a "challenge" is that?!" -- If eating healthy for 1 day sounds easy to you, then hopefully you will be participating in i-NJFD on March 30! Declaring an official "no junk food day" also offers you the opportunity to encourage and support others to eat healthier. The experience should be an accessible and positive one - no judgment allowed. Every effort counts. Every change in the diet, no matter how small, is worth celebrating.