Gutbane: Junk food

I landed on a new term to identify certain foods – gutbane. Bane, also known as death, or poison, is an apt term to describe many of the things I choose to eat, since they provide little to no nutritional value and are packed with a long list of ingredients that are harmful to my body.

Though I aim to eat local, seasonal produce, I’m imperfect at my aspirations. I eat a yummy breakfast, I might eat half-healthy/half-bad for lunch time, and I eat locally-raised, grass-fed beef for supper, with a side of locally-grown potatoes and some Maine-grown rutabaga.

Sounds like I deserve a gold star (as far as I know, no department or association has yet to designate themselves as the distributors of said gold stars).

It’s all good and fine, until the TV’s turned on and my feet are thrown up onto the coffee table.

Picture the evening: my gut, relatively happy with a steady source of actual food fuel, is settling, along with the rest of my body, into the couch. It’s pleased – digesting at a healthy rate, not causing me any problems at all.

Suddenly, a bag of Sour Patch Kids ends up in my hands. Obviously someone bought this bag, someone grabbed it out of the pantry and put it in my hand, somebody opened up the bag and let the smell of artificial dye and sugar waft up to my nose.

I did all these things. During any one of those steps, I had the opportunity to recognize that I didn’t need to eat this fake food and I could choose something healthy instead (like fruit, which always amazes me with how delicious it is – try cranberries! they’re nature’s Sour Patch Kid).

Yet somehow I decide on many food choices in a state of oblivion. As much as I’ve read up, studied, argued and advocated for better food choices, it seems I still fail, almost every night, caught with my hand in a brightly-colored bag, grains of sugar scattered around me on the couch cushion.

After a day of good eating, I end the evening in a state of upset. My gut feels awful, my teeth hurt, and my conscience is berating me for giving in to childish cravings for straight-up sugar.

Junk food is my gutbane. I know to say no, I forget to say no, and once I’ve eaten way too much of the stuff, my stomach (had it words) would whine “nooooo” to me for my upsetting choices.

This morning I woke up with a junk food hangover. My stomach, uncooperative, remained poised on the brink of upheaval. And, just like a hangover of any sort, I couldn’t help but wonder why (WHY) I had done this to myself.

What’s the appeal? Why is it so wonderful to eat junk food, even though it’s empty calories, fake food, and makes me feel terrible afterwards?

Junk food, you’re my gutbane. One of these days, I just might best you. It might all sink in and I’ll say ‘no’ to the bag of candy or the chocolate egg.

In some hopeful future, I might not become a bit too excited about the oncoming Easter season, just for the sheer variety of jellybeans at my purchasing disposal.

In that same bright time, I might actually prepare all the delicious foods in my fridge and pantry, rather than reaching for convenience and letting the real food rot.

I’m being gentle on myself. Lacking a drill sergeant, a hyperactive nutritional trainer, or a mom who still lives with me, I’m responsible for myself now. The only way to improve myself is to, well, improve myself.

One real bite at a time.

 Click here for more information on Call Me Old Fashioned author Jenna Beaulieu.

Jenna Beaulieu

About Jenna Beaulieu

Jenna is a writer and fine art photographer who recently moved from the Saint John Valley region to Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island. She’s a fan of excellent music, homemade gravy, and colored pencils (also, short books and long books, good pens, flannel, and when the June bugs don’t really come out much that year). For more about Jenna and her work, visit her website at