In a fast-moving, high-paced World, anything which offers us convenience and at a low cost has to be a winner. And that is how the fast food industry has taken such a stranglehold on our lives, because they meet those needs precisely.
So, given that our needs are for speed and convenience and that they are being met so readily by the fast food industry, it would appear to b a win/win situation wouldn’t it?
On the face of it yes, but unfortunately that’s only a part of it. Health experts have been saying for some time that there are massive problems associated with so called convenience foods, due to their reliance on unhealthy ingredients.
Most of us now know the documentary film “Super Size Me”, in which film maker Morgan Spurlock set out to investigate whether or not there was any substance behind these warnings. His journey took him around the US on a fact finding mission during which he also put his own body on the line, living on nothing but McDonald’s for an entire month with three simple rules:
1) No options: he could only eat what was available over the counter
2) No super sizing unless offered
3) No excuses: he had to eat every item on the menu at least once
Prior to the journey, he’d been thoroughly checked medically and found to be in good health but within the course of a month, his health disintegrated rapidly and he had chest pains and trouble breathing. He also suffered from depression, insomnia and the shakes. His liver functions deteriorated and his liver specialist begged him to quit 20 days into the experiment. But he persevered and finished 25 pounds heavier and much poorer.
So what is it about the food he was existing on that caused this dramatic effect? Fast food is also known as convenience food because it’s just that – convenient for us. But it’s also convenient for the manufacturer and their convenience comes from mass production with a reliance on cheap, processed ingredients. The nutritional value of the product is sacrificed for this convenience. To give back the flavour which is lost through the use of such ingredients and the processing, they use high proportions of fats, sugars and salts, as these foods trigger the right sensations for us. But these ingredients when used excessively are know to have the following consequences:
Saturated and especially trans fats, which are used widely in processed food, can raise cholesterol, clog arteries and raise the risk of coronary disease.
The excess of sugar in fast foods is a big concern. Not only for the well documented impact on dental welfare but it has also been linked to obesity, heart disease and even cancer.
Salts taken to excess play a huge part in raising blood pressure and increasing the risks of strokes.
Spurlock’s experiment meant he was subjected constantly to very high levels of these high risk foods, but for the potentially dangerous consequences to be so obvious in such a short time is a lesson that we should all be heeding. That’s not to say that’s no place in our lives for convenience foods; it’s just to say that our reliance on them should be minimal and they should be viewed as an occasional alternative to a normal healthy diet.
The argument is often used that to cook your own food from healthy ingredients is just not practical in a modern world but with so many simple healthy recipes available to us in books and on the internet and the fact that in most parts of the world, good locally grown ingredients are readily available, there is no excuse for not taking the warning provided by Spurlock’s film to heart.
We have choices and we must for the sake of our health and the health of those around us, choose wisely.
Andrew Poole is a qualified specialist Weight-loss Coach and the creator of the New-Slimmer-You Weight-loss Support Plan www.new-slimmer-you.com He offers a special gift to subscribers to his informative newsletter