We all know, after having heard it time and time again that fast food or junk food is bad for us; it’s oily, greasy and outright bad for our health. We all know that junk food has too many calories and over time it will make us fat and that it doesn’t contain many nutrients. Movies like as Supersize Me and Fast Food Nation have shown us the effects of fast food on the body and pro-planet movies such as Cowspiracy and Food Inc have shed some light on the effects of the junk food industry on the environment and animal welfare. (If you haven’t seen these movies, I highly recommend you do). While the occasional pizza, burger or ice cream or better still their plant-based alternatives probably won’t do much harm to our health, the constant consumption of cheap fried street food, sugar-loaded snacks and midnight meals will one day catch up with us. There are also many not so obvious or not-so-talked about reasons to avoid fast food, some of which I’ve outlined in this post.
I should probably mention at this point that this post mainly talks about junk food from cheap, fast food outlets and supermarkets, meat-based or plant-based, rather than homemade food. A junk food burger is very different from a homemade burger, for example, the later you can organically source high standard minced beef or plant-based alternative, organic lettuce and tomato and a high-quality bun for a healthy meal that has very few preservatives or additives. In fact, there is nothing wrong with consuming burgers, pizza, pies, fries etc if they consciously made with high-quality ingredients that you can control. You’re probably not going to spend your day trying to source chemicals and preservative to put into your homemade food, am I right?
When travelling, we enter into a whole new ball game. Arriving in a new country or city, many of us simply don’t know where we can eat well and travel schedules often leave us with no choice than to grab, literally, anything while on the go. It’s easy to grab something cheap, quick and fried and while this is ok sometimes, we really should be a little bit more aware of what we are feeding our bodies, especially when it can eventually take a toll on our bodies, mental wellbeing and our overall travel experience.
THE FAST FOOD INDUSTRY DOESN’T GIVE A SH*T ABOUT ANIMALS OR THE ENVIRONMENT
In the wake of current events, I think we’ve all begun to realise the importance of our planet and natural environment but this is something the fast-food industry does not and will never give two sh*ts about. For junk food to be as cheap as it is, something or someone along the manufacturing process will get exploited, due to keeping costs so low, and it’s normally a poor farmer, a helpless animal or the environment or most probably all three. Animals are kept in the cruellest possible conditions, dying, one on top of the other, while hectares of rainforest gets burned every day for cattle farming. We have the ultimate power to see where our hard-earned dollar goes and we can use this power for good by supporting local, ethical companies that do it right.
THEY ARE LOADED WITH SUGAR
Hidden sugars are a huge problem when it comes to fast food. The stuff is everywhere, even in a burger- it’ll most likely be present in the patty and in the bun in the form of simple carbohydrates. Refined sugar can be dangerous for the body is it puts stress on your metabolism and pancreas. When you eat refined sugar, the pancreas will release extra amounts of insulin in order to counterbalance the sugar to prevent a large spike in your blood sugar levels. A little while after eating though, you’re blood sugar levels fall causing you to feel tired, sluggish and irritable. Not only does this continuous process put stress on the body but also on your mental health too.
Thinking about going plant-based but nor fully convinced? Check out Why I Choose a Plant-Based Diet
JUNK FOOD CONTAINS NITRATES
Nitrates are used as a preservative in the fast-food industry, mainly in the preservation of cold cut meats like ham or salami. More recently, studies have shown that the consumption of too many nitrate-containing foods can actually increase the risk of certain cancers.
IT’S BAD FOR YOUR SKIN
All the preservatives, chemicals, additives and sugars build up in your body over time and where is the first place that they’ll show? Your skin! The skin is the body’s largest organ and its main job is to expel toxins out of the body through sweat as well as not letting anything in. Build-ups of sugars, trans fats and oils are directly linked to breakouts and dull skin which is reason enough to avoid fast food.
IT SLOWS YOU DOWN
The constant consumption of fast food slows down the body. Physically it makes us feel lazy and uninspired- not what you want when you’re supposed to be out exploring the world. Laziness, however, is just one factor when it comes to consuming fast food.
Junk food also slows down your brain function. Past studies in children have shown that children who consume junk food regularly score lower at school that children who eat well. The trans fats in junk food can actually work against the healthy fats in your brain affecting neurotransmitters and the way we store information. Iron is another nutrient that helps to grow healthy brain cells, a nutrient that’s virtually non-existent in fast food. So, if you’re someone who values your brain function and you want to do amazing things someday, you might want to rethink your junk food consumption.
FURTHER READING AND RESOURCES:
If you’re someone who really wants to make a lifestyle change, eat less junk food, exercise more and generally look after your health better but don’t know where to turn, have a look at these resources. These books, websites and also the movies I mentioned in the introduction really helped me to make the decision about my lifestyle today. Not only to they explain the pros and cons of eating healthy and nutritious food but you’ll also find out more about the inner workings of the fast food industry, meat and dairy industry so you’re prepared to make the best decisions for yourself.
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer – One of the best books about there on plant-based eating, Foer sets out to find out what really is the best kind of food.
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan – A detailed exploration of a Western-style diet.
The China Study by Colin Campbell and Thomas Campbell – One of the most profound studies of diet ever undertaken in history.
Gut: The Inside Story by Guila Enders – A journey into the gut and why it might just be one of the bodies most important organs.
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser – Find out about the dark side of the fast-food industry. Also available as a movie.
Forks Over Knives – a movie, website and recipe book series teaching you about the importance of plants and a plant-based diet.
Peta – a resource supporting animal rights and fighting against abuse of animals in labs and in the meat and dairy industries.
Any comments or questions about the reasons to avoid fast food? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.
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