The Meal Matters Most

What Makes Healthy Food Healthy: From a Stress Perspective

Food Stamp Challenge #1: Replace $1.59 Wendy’s Bacon cheeseburger.

1 Comment

Replacing the quintessential cheap fast food: The CheeseBurger


image   $1.59 or

$1.54?  image

You could probably make a straight up better cheeseburger, but I’m looking for instant satisfaction, quick and portable. I’ll  be packing or eating at home, so I wanted a similar convenience.  I thought a quick charcuterie-type food would be my perfect quick ‘snack food”. Traditional. Healthy. Satisfyingly deep, rich, bright and light.

Both of these items contain about the same amount of fat and calories (310) and the cost is almost the same. The problem with making the argument that we only have a choice between tasty “junk” or sterile “healthy” (fruits and vegetables) is that we go for the junk food because it’s more satisfying, filling and a better tasty calorie bang for our buck. If super hungry and faced with a dollar for a cheeseburger versus a dollar for an apple.  Most, if hungry enough, choose the burger.  But that’s not a fair side-to-side comparison.

We are looking for flavor profiles the junk foods are imitating. Sugar-fat-salt-Umami (fermented savoriness). So a better comparison is this type of combination with naturally cured meats (Tjs), raw cheddar cheese (TJs), walnuts (Tjs), apple (farmer’s market), tart cherry jam (Whole Foods), and Carr water crackers (Fresh Market).  I could make this even cheaper replacing water crackers or mixing it up with higher fiber cracker, but the flavor profile and combination of probiotic sources, polyphenols, fiber, protein make it nutritious, a good calorie profile meal/snack and a rich satisfying substitute (primary choice).

Great fast food and no cooking involved (just a bit of slicing).

More recipes, financials, worksheets, pantry building, menu planning examples later this week.

For an FYI taste, the fast food burger still “tastes” good after the initial kinda disgusting rush of salty, high note sweetness and kinda greasiness. It’s a “high” brain tasty illusion that leaves me feel queasy drugged out (which I think we mistake as “fullness”). Whereas the charcuterie was incredibly delicious combination of flavors, textures and complexity and I felt very satisfied and energized after.  It’s still work to retrain what “taste” is and what true “fullness” feels like and to realize that that drug-effect of junk food isn’t normal. Retraining and recalibration takes time.


Author: Lori Hogenkamp

Lori's passion is for food, the brain, science and stress shifting perspectives .

One thought on “Food Stamp Challenge #1: Replace $1.59 Wendy’s Bacon cheeseburger.

  1. It’s complicated. i completely agree with making healthy foods more financially appealing (clearly should be subsidized over corn-wheat-soy). Healthy foods can supply nutrients that can help balance stress (and therefor the diseases you mention). This is true for those not under duress or have been on a healthy diet. Healthy whole foods are ideal. However, that takes time and effort and a certain level of cooking skill-set and appeal to shift to these foods. The appeal of junk foods is that it hits that brain that assures it is getting resources (quick calories to fend off threats). it has a self-medicating (drug) effect in that way (it’s soothing to the brain). Studies show that once addicted to junk food, or under enough stress animals will starve themselves rather than eat healthy foods. The brain simply won’t allow it, also “healthy” foods when a system has been altered doesn’t have the desired ‘healthy” effect on the system,. Junk food eases stress, but because it’s junk it creates greater responses to stress. It’s a perpetuating cycle. So that is why junk food makes people “happier” and addicted to it. Junk food is a short-term solution with a strong attachment conditioning and rebound effect for greater need. What we need are short and long-term solutions to ease and switch to healthier foods that includes stress management and getting these people back on their feet (it’s easier for most just to judge and assume they “should just do it”, again worsening the cycle for some). Some of my thoughts are a mutlidimensional treatment to get people off of this cycle, and in ways providing more cooking classes, learning “basic” comfort foods leading to healthier habits with whole foods.

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