Is pizza junk food? There can be whole food ingredients involved but it’s so good can it possibly be good food too? Many of us have asked the same question.
According to Wikipedia, “Junk food is a pejorative term for food containing high levels of calories from sugar or fat with little protein, vitamins or minerals. Use of the term implies that a particular food has little “nutritional value” and contains excessive fat, sugar, salt, and calories.”
A good exercise, as we exit Ovarian and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and enter Breast Cancer Awareness Month, might be a quick look at how junk food relates to cancer and obesity. After all, obesity has associated links to the following cancers:
According to the Cancer.org website: “A projection of the future health and economic burden of obesity in 2030 estimated that continuation of existing trends in obesity will lead to about 500,000 additional cases of cancer in the United States by 2030. This analysis also found that if every adult reduced their BMI by 1 percent, which would be equivalent to a weight loss of roughly 1 kg (or 2.2 lbs) for an adult of average weight, this would prevent the increase in the number of cancer cases and actually result in the avoidance of about 100,000 new cases of cancer.”
Since we’re in the throes of pink ribbons, it’s worth noting the site points out that the obesity-breast cancer link is stronger for post-menopausal and Caucasian women. The excess weight leads to higher levels of estrogen for this group, increasing the breast cancer risk. It also includes a statement that weight loss increases the likelihood of prevention. So there is good news.
Where to start? We know junk food is bad for us and we should eliminate the empty calorie, low fiber, zero nutrition items from our shopping lists and dining out options as much as possible. The how to is a little trickier, so let’s look at ways to manage the grocery store and the menu.
These are some simple changes we can all make to live healthier lives. We have access to grocery stores, farmers’ markets, wholesale and discount clubs, and a variety of dining out options that include healthy choices and whole food ingredients. We have the means to make those decisions.
Low-income communities are challenged to make these changes and that leads to a higher incidence of cancer and other related health issues. These communities often exist in a food desert where there are few place to purchase healthy options and the breath of choices that most of us enjoy is limited. They work multiple jobs to cover expenses and lack the time it takes to shop and prepare a meal. Low-income families face a form of yo-yo dieting we don’t think about, where there are cycles of overeating when SNAP benefits are renewed each month and then deprivation at the end of the month as funds run out. Through our Mobile Market in the Ironbound section of Newark we are helping families with great healthy food choices that enable them to create nutritious meals each day. Table to Table has been providing vegetables, fruits and herbs to the 500+ families who attend the market each week from April through November. Learn more here. Oh, and in answer to the original question, when using the right ingredients, pizza is not junk food!