By SHANNON SKAE, health and life coach with Revive with Shan
The fast food industry is growing by 40% each year. Fast food, or junk food, includes sodas, bread, French fries, ice cream, and burgers. High intake of fried foods and artificially sweetened drinks are directly linked to an overweight body mass index and obesity in children.
Fast foods contain high fructose corn syrup, trans fat or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, Azodicarbonamide, sodium nitrite, bisphenol, phthalates, and many other additives. These all have adverse side effects.
Why fast foods are detrimental to health:
- Very high in calories so can lead to weight gain
- Can cause cancer
- Can cause reproductive toxicity
- Can cause kidney disease
- Can induce asthma
- Can cause heart disease
- Can cause diabetes
- Heightened cholesterol
- Cognitive function diminishes
- Lacking in nutrition
- Increased inflammation and sickness
In essence, fast food is highly processed and incredibly detrimental to our health. Having fast food occasionally is not a problem, but having it all the time could cause more significant health issues.
When you eat fast food all the time, you will eventually start seeing very negative side effects. For instance, Dr Chris van Tulleken spent a month eating fast food to help understand whether processed food is linked to rapid weight gain. He found that at the end of the experiment, he had put on 6kgs and experienced piles, erectile dysfunction and anxiety. He felt like he had aged ten years after the experiment and felt better as soon as he stopped it.
It is not always easy to resist fast food, especially when you suddenly crave something tasty and deep-fried. You can try and curb those fast food cravings by snacking throughout the day on healthy snacks like nuts and fruit, keeping a bottle of water close on hand (sometimes we misread thirst as hunger), and also reading the ingredients on the food label (the fewer ingredients there are, the better).
If you do want to eat fast food, then what are the healthiest options in South Africa:
- Nando’s grilled chicken breast
- Steers chicken burgers (chicken, not beef)
- Debonairs vegetarian pizza
- Burger King’s chicken burger
- KFC’s grilled chicken burger
- Wimpy’s wrap
- Roman’s small vegetarian pizza
Anything that is grilled, without meat, and small-portion-sized.
Remember, everything in moderation!