'Punk' health trend

I was researching odd food traditions for this week’s column, and I came across a new trend in China called “punk health.” I was so intrigued I stopped looking. You will have to wait for another week for me to offer a list, as I’d like to expand on this concept, which I don’t think is new or unique to China.

“Punk health” is translated from a Chinese term, and it describes the behaviour of doing something excessive but then following it up with something overtly healthy. It has been popular with young people in urban China for a few years now, and there are products that cater to the trend.

Have you had goji berries in your beer? Or coffee infused with medicinal herbs? Maybe you tried a healthy meal after a night out partying, or the reverse of working out like crazy and then indulging in fried chicken? These are all examples of punk health.

I would argue this is a kind of youthful rebellion that has existed for generations. As a youth, you feel the invincibility from your shorter time on the planet, but you are still pressured by the counsel from elders about taking care of yourself. Punk health is the latest way of expressing that compromise.

When I was young and working as a waitress at Earl’s (we didn’t call ourselves servers way back then), a popular food order with young people was potato skins and diet coke. Potato skins were served with a thick layer of melted cheese and a generous bowl of sour cream for dipping. I’m not sure the diet coke was enough to offset that indulgence, but the choice did seem to make the diners feel better.

The contradiction of this kind of behaviour is the badge of honour that we wear when we are young. With every generation there is a struggle to create a new sort of identity, something different than our parents – we believe we have a better approach than they did. This comes amidst the pressure of wanting to be recognized as a success, ironically in a society where those giving recognition are often our elders.

Deep down we can all feel like we need to make up for our lack of success in being our best selves at times. Combining junk food with healthy components might just be the latest innovation, like the new candies with melatonin that help insomniacs sleep.

In lesser extremes, there is an effort to balance that works well if we back up to the middle ground. A big cup of herbal tea after a night out will help re-hydrate you and your cookies n’ cream protein shake after a workout does help your muscles recover.

Do you remember exotic healthy remedies for excessive partying when you were young, or healthy obsessions that were meant to offset the marathon study binges? I certainly had a few. I suppose this is a stage we try out as we learn the balance of life, juggling our responsibilities and ambitions.

In China, young people are describing themselves either as “salted fish” – like a dead fish, with no ambitions – or “buddha youth,” a disinterested generation that’s unfazed by worldly obligations. They are disillusioned with seeing their parents who worked hard to earn money and in their elder years have health problems that money cannot solve.

We all need to find our own path. Young people have re-evaluated what they see as the most important goals in life for many generations. I look forward to seeing what the current youth come up with, and how they move past the punk phase.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my regular coffee with nothing in it to boost me; at my age, I’m happy with my middle ground.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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