You share a meme about your eternal love affair with pizza as you take another bite of the mouthwatering cheeseburger. A colonel, a clown, and a Chihuahua are your best friends. Life’s good! If any of that feels relatable, you might have a fast food addiction.
Let’s be honest, what’s not to love about fast food! It is as delicious as food can get and you can grab a bite anytime you want. Besides, it doesn’t damage your wallet. These are just some reasons America is addicted to fast food.
Fast-food chains in the country feed around 50 million people in a day. On the flip side, these are also the reasons America has become the most obese country in the world. If you think the problem is only limited to your weight, you are badly mistaken.
What Eating Fast Food Does To Your Body And Mind?
Obesity is the direct cause of some of the most common diseases known to mankind. By this equation, fast food becomes the root of most health problems we suffer. These facts, however, may not give you the real picture. To understand how dangerous fast food is, you need to dig deeper into the effects it has on your health.
So, take your knife out as we are about to dissect the matter and discuss 5 harmful effects of fast food on your health.
1. It Is Making You Eat More
Fast food is engineered to be addictive. It is not the taste that keeps you coming back; it is the ingredients. Processed food contains a high amount of salts, sugar, trans fats, and refined carbohydrates. When you eat a meal, you feel satisfied and full for the time your blood sugar level remains elevated. As it drops, your system craves again.
Psychological studies have proved that sugar addiction is like a cocaine addiction. Just like drugs, these ingredients can trigger the pleasure center of the brain.
On top of that, fast food contains several preservatives including the infamous Monosodium Glutamate MSG AKA Chinese salt. MSG, apart from having many side effects, is an appetite enhancer. It messes with your mind’s ability to figure out when to stop.
Remember, you are not craving the calories because your body needs it, it is your mind that is now addicted to the ‘sugar’ rush.
2. It Is Ruining Your Heart
Things you love are the things that break your heart. Can’t be truer about your favorite fast food. Fast lacks nutritional value. The ingredients it contains are unhealthy and can cause LDL level to increase rapidly.
A study conducted by the University of Minnesota revealed that consuming fast food once a week can increase your chances of dying from a heart disease by 20 percent. Make it three times and the chances spike to 80 percent. It is why doctors see fast food as an epidemic.
Apart from fat, other ingredients such as salts and sugar in your fast food are equally responsible for heart disease. Salts can raise your blood pressure and add put stress on your cardiovascular system. People who are already suffering from coronary artery disease, sodium can increase the chances of stroke or heart attack.
3. It Triggers Depression
The pleasure you find in your fast food platter doesn’t last long. Once your sugar level drops, you feel sad and irritable. That, however, is nothing when compared to the fact that fast food can cause depression.
Depression isn’t a feeling or a mere state of mind, it is a disease just as serious as a heart disease or diabetes. According to a study, regular consumers of processed and fast food have 51 percent higher chances of suffering from depression.
The reason is simple. A healthy mind needs a healthy body. Just like our body, our mind needs a healthy balance of all the nutrients to produce neurotransmitters. Fast food lacks the essential amino acid tryptophan that keeps our brain chemicals balanced. The imbalance can cause behavioral and mental disorders.
4. It invites Diabetes
If the food has a higher amount of sugar, it is an invitation to diabetes. High in saturated fat and sugar, fast food can increase your chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Contrary to the popular belief, sugar isn’t the direct cause of diabetes. Sugar can lead to obesity and a higher amount of fat in your body which can hinder your body’s ability to utilize insulin. Actually, your pancreas assumes it isn’t producing enough insulin. And it overproduces to the point where it wears out and stops producing enough of this sugar-lowering hormone. That is when you develop diabetes.
So, when you’re stuffing your tummy with those yummies, remember you are putting your health at risk.
5. It Can Mess with Your Memory
Your heart is not the only thing in the crosshair. Fast food consumption is also associated with memory loss and poor cognitive function. A study conducted in 2011 concluded that people who consume fast food perform much poorly on cognitive tests as compared to those on a healthy diet. Many other studies conducted later proved that fast food can cause your memory to deteriorate.
The toxins in fast food cause a chemical imbalance in the brain and result in inflammation in the area associated with recognition and memory. Moreover, a higher amount of sugar can interfere with the production of brain peptides that support memory formation.
Speaking of memory, fast food may also increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases. Alzheimer’s, often called the diabetes of the brain, is a memory loss disease caused when our brain becomes resistant to insulin. This happens when our mind is producing an excessive amount of insulin due to higher sugar intake.
These effects are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many health issues directly and indirectly associated with fast food consumption. Overall, it is a choice that seems the most feasible and fast at first, but in the long run, is just lowering your quality of life.
Get into a routine to avoid falling into the unhealthy lifestyle trap. You can always go for more nutritious, delicious homemade options. Remember, a little effort is all it takes to lead a healthier life.
6 Proven Methods to Quit Eating Fast Food
For most people, fast food is more about the convenience of grabbing a bite while you are on your way to work. Some people do not have the money or the time to afford homemade food. Besides, if you are addicted, the cravings will return from time to time. It feels just like the debt trap. There seems to be no way out of it.
With little determination, you can fight this addiction. You need to start with small changes and slowly transform your whole lifestyle. Here are some suggestions that will help you avoid those tasty bites of bad omen.
Step 1: Plan and Prepare Ahead
We usually go for fast food when we do not have other options open. Make a meal plan and complete your preparations for the whole week.
Marinate the meat. Cut the vegetables. Prepare sauces. And freeze it all for the week. This way, you will know that you have the option to go home and eat. You will know that you can go home and prepare your meal within a matter of minutes. This will really help you curb your cravings.
Step 2: Go for Variety
For many people, healthy food is boring. It is if you have just a few options to rotate. Experiment with your homemade menu. Whether its breakfast, lunch, or dinner, keep trying new recipes and you will never lose interest.
There are a lot of chefs who are devoted to healthy food and lifestyle. You can find their recipe books or video to try something new every day. Again, make a weekly menu and shop for the whole week so you don’t have to abandon the plan due to missing ingredients
Step 3: Start Healthy Snacking
Make small snack size packets of nuts and eat a handful whenever you feel hungry. Nuts offer excellent nutritional value and they contain a healthy amount of good fats. The good fats do not harm your heart or body but they can make you feel full.
Keep these packets in your car, at your work, and in your shoulder bag if you carry one around. Nuts also contain a good amount of protein, which also makes you feel full. So, protein bars are also a good option.
Step 4: Deal with Stress
You feel sad, you eat fast food. You eat fast food, it makes you more depressed. It is a vicious cycle. Seek the right kind of professional help to deal with stress, and you will see a significant decrease in your stress triggered cravings.
Therapy, meditation, and yoga can help you manage stress and depression. When you feel happy, you want to be good to yourself. You feel more motivated to take care of yourself. With less stress on your mind, you will find the strength to say no to fast food.
Step 5: Pamper Yourself
One gourmet meal in a fine dining restaurant may cost you more than ten fast food meals, but it is actually worth more. Treat yourself to something much classier like a nice Italian steak with lots of healthy sides. Such meals, though not homemade, are much healthier as they are prepared from fresh and organic ingredients.
Many restaurants actually create meals based on the nutritional requirements of a healthy body. Once you are done, you’ll have neither the desire nor the budget for fast food.
Step 6: Make a Healthy Choice
If you really have to go for fast food, introduce your taste buds to healthy food. As awareness regarding the dangers of fast food increases in America, we see a rise in the number of restaurants that offer quick but clean food. They offer a variety of delicious salads and healthy sandwiches made from fresh produce. Find such restaurants in your area and bid farewell to your toxic relationship with the clown and the colonel.
If you want a healthy and happy life, you need to make this sacrifice. You need to steer away from food that fills you with toxins. Make up your mind. Get into a routine to avoid falling into the unhealthy lifestyle trap. Remember, a little effort is all it takes to lead a healthier life.