As we ate them, a flood of sensations came over me--one part nostalgia at eating these sorts of foods at slumber parties throughout my youth, one part pleasure in those evolutionary roots (or whatever it is) that make us crave fats and salts, one part feeling gross at the build-up of artificial flavors in my mouth, and, yes, one part guilt that this food didn't meet any of my standards for what I put into my body.
In trying to reconcile all these varying feelings, I thought of a picnic earlier this year, where a friend of mine (and a sometimes-reader of this blog) reached for some chips (cheetos, I think) and then looked at me apologetically and said, "I'm sorry, Anna."
That she felt like she needed to apologize to me for eating this processed food product really struck me. On the one hand, I was glad that those who know me saw me as a healthy and conscious eater. On the other hand, I wondered what sort of judgmental behavior I had previously displayed that had made her feel she had to ask my forgiveness in order to eat this sort of indulgence.
Because it's certainly not that I think there is no place for junk food in our lives. I mean, I suppose I'd prefer that there be no junk food (and by this term, I mean especially the highly-processed, unpronounceable-ingredient-filled junk that is sold at gas stations; not necessarily sugary or salty treats prepared from whole foods at home or in high-quality bakeries). But, given that so many of us grew up with junk food as a central treat in our lives, I understand the emotional comfort and nostalgic pleasure associated with these foods. And often, when they are on offer, they are hard to resist.
I get that.
And yet, I still wonder what place this junk food really should have? How to deal, for example, with the issue of junk food in the lives of my future potential children? Do I let them have it only rarely, such that it is seen as a treat? Or do I say no to junk altogether? What are the possible repercussions to this latter approach?
What do you all think? What is the place of junk food in the lives of conscious eaters?