Most people know that fast food is bad for them. But, the effects are much worse than you might think.
You see commercials on TV enticing you to eat fast food all the time. You even pass by the restaurants daily on the way to and from work. It is a convenient food choice. It can often also be very tasty. And, when you want something to quell your hunger, it can be a delicious choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Could this quick food fix be costing you your health?
Fast food affects everyone differently and there is no way to definitively say that it is the only culprit negatively affecting an unhealthy person’s lifestyle. However, as the saying goes, too much of anything can be bad. And, this could certainly apply to eating fast food.
What’s Happening To Your Body When You Eat Fast Food?
Fast food companies have attempted to market fast food as much healthier than it was in the past. But, this doesn’t mean that you should feel comfortable with including fast food in your daily food regimen.
According to an article published by Tech Times, “French fries appear to be the only fast food item undergoing any significant changes.” Although they are still high in salt, the article noted that this seems to be the only fast food item that is reducing trans-fat content.
These days everything is about instant gratification and fast food seems to be the food of choice for most Americans. Of the three standard meals eaten daily, upwards of two-thirds of those are fast food meals. Even those who may be consuming healthier choices on the fast food menu may be surprised to find out the negative effect that this fare is having on their diet.
Is It Just Taste With Little Else?
It’s true. Fast food does taste good. But, the problem with it is that it has very little nutritional value compared to food prepared at home with more nutritious ingredients. Although the portions you consume may be similar to those at home, the calorie, sugar and fat intake from fast food tends to be much higher. As a result, the most significant and visible effect of fast food on the body is weight gain and eventually obesity.
One fast food meal may contain a day’s worth of calories for some people. Multiply this by three times a day, five times a week, and a significant toll is taken on the body in a very short period of time.
The Unhealthy Fast Food Side Effects
Aside from the unhealthy visible effects of eating fast food, there are also some harmful unseen effects that take place within the digestive, cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems. It starts with the digestive system being overwhelmed with too many carbs that releases too much sugar into the bloodstream. This alters the body’s natural insulin response.
More carbs also means more weight gain. And, of course, more weight gain can be a contributing factor to heart disease. Excessive weight gain can also lead to respiratory issues such as asthma and sleep apnea. Severe headaches are also linked to high salt intake and high concentrations of MSG.
Another visible effect of fast food is the impact it has on the skin. Acne, eczema and other skin flare-ups can be linked to the body’s oversaturation of carbs due to fast food.
What Happens When You Stop Eating Fast Food By Going Cold Turkey?
As with abruptly ending any addiction, stopping fast food cold turkey can initially have a negative impact. Irritability and headaches are the most common effects that quitting fast food has on the body. Also, initially there will be a dip in energy levels due to toxins being eliminated from the body.
In spite of the negative effects that quitting cold turkey can have on your body, one positive and immediate result can be a drop in weight. A dip in weight can begin to reverse the possibility of heart disease and high cholesterol. Blood sugar can be restored and insulin production can return to normal and reduce the possibility of type-2 diabetes.
Aside from these perks, there are also other critical benefits such as improved brain activity. Studies have shown that trans-fats negatively impacts brain matter. This results in reduced cognizance and increased forgetfulness. Also, non-nutritional carbs affect the pancreas over time, resulting in higher levels of fatigue. Once you begin to eliminate fast food from your diet, you will eventually have increased energy levels.
Whether you decide to quit eating fast food by going cold turkey or you slowly wean yourself off of it, the visible and mental effects of such a decision are huge. In time, you’ll see pounds of ugly fat melting off of your body. Some drastic cases from extreme fast food offenders have seen almost 100 pounds being lost in just a few short months.
According to some research, there’s no way to eat fast food in moderation and still be considered healthy. A new study, published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, indicates that damage to the arteries occurs almost immediately after just one – that’s right, one – junk food-type meal. Based on the results of their study, it’s best to steer clear of fast food entirely and not reward your moderation with a small portion of fast food. Remember: Just one small meal, can take your health off track and send you right back down the road to unhealthiness.
What Happens To You If You Stop Eating Fast Food Over A Long Period Of Time?
One of the easiest ways to gain weight from eating fast food actually has little to do with the main course. It comes from getting the combo special. If you guessed it was from the sugary drink and French fries, you’d be right. Not quite the extra value you’d hoped for.
Believe it or not, as innocent as soda may seem, it is in fact almost as disastrous on your health as a drug addiction. Attempting to cut it out of your diet cold turkey can prove to be as difficult as cutting out cigarettes. But, when it is done, your health can improve drastically over the long term.
As with eliminating fast food short-term, the long-term effect of dropping sugary drinks is weight loss. A few other significant improvements can also occur just from eliminating soda from our diet. These include minimizing the risk of heart disease, improved brain function, fewer bladder problems, reduced risk of kidney disease and even less risk of problems with your teeth resulting in fewer unexpected trips to the dentist.
French Fries Are The Worst Offenders
What about those very tempting French fries? With reduction in trans-fat, shouldn’t these be safer to consume? In a word: No. These delicious critters are by far the worst of all fast food items no matter how companies might market them as reduced fat or reduced salt. They can still clog up the arteries and cause you to be lethargic and overweight over the long-term. This, of course, can lead to all kinds of health risks.
But, how can a vegetable be so unhealthy? Well, fast food French fries are dipped in corn oil long before they are even made in the store. Then, they are deep fried in oil and dashed with massive amounts of salt.
Too much of this seemingly innocent vegetable made in this manner can inevitably increase weight gain over time. And, that’s not to mention the health risks to cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Eliminating fast food French fries from the diet over the long term can improve heart health, energy levels and can even reduce skin flare-ups such as acne.
What About A Slice And A Salad?
Pizza is another popular fast food item that has undergone many changes and has even attempted to incorporate fresher ingredients and gluten-free bread. Despite these changes, however, it, too, can adversely affect your diet and health. Minimizing or eliminating this from your diet can improve heart health and even reduce issues with bowels such as irritable bowel syndrome, gas, stomach aches and diarrhea.
It can be assumed that most of these fast food items are bad due to the high salt content, excessive amounts of fat and incredible amounts of grease found in them. But, are salads from fast food places any better than consuming these more popular menu items?
It seems that if you are going to eat fast food, then salad would be a healthier choice.
According to a recent study, this surprisingly may not be the case. A food editor from Good Morning America recently conducted a study and found that some of the lettuce in fast food salads may be just as empty in nutrients as the burgers and fries. To top this off, these empty nutrients are then loaded with tons of fatty meats and salad dressings. Sometimes the caloric intake from a salad can be just as high as the burger and fries, and equally as unhealthy.
Over the long term, it may be best to skip the salads at fast food places and instead pick much more healthier alternatives at the grocery store. At least you will have control over the nutritional value of the salad and even make better decisions with regard to toppings and dressing. This will go a long way in reducing fat and improving health and energy levels.
What About Eating A Juicy Burger?
Last but not least, those infamous fast food burgers. Who can forget that Super Size Me movie? If that didn’t stop you from craving burgers, then maybe nothing will.
Burgers have been reduced in size over the years especially after the debate over super sizing meals. But, that doesn’t mean that they are leaner. The fat and salt content is still just as high and the lack of nutritional value and high water content is still packing on the pounds. That’s not to mention the meat and cheese that are added. Often, these only serve to pack on more calories.
Let’s face it: Fast food is an addiction. Kicking any bad habit is never easy. As is the case with quitting smoking, alcohol consumption or taking drugs, you run the risk of restarting the habit and being even worse off than before kicking it. This can be the case with kicking the fast food habit by going cold turkey.
Sure, there will be some short-term benefits, most notably, a decrease in weight. But, the cravings can lead to restarting the habit and packing on more pounds than before. The better approach is to first of all accept that you have an addiction. Then, you should address this addiction with a plan of action. This plan of action should involve a lifestyle change. Why? As with drug and alcohol dependency, being around these foods can make it too hard to pass up.
Most nutritionists advise that you should taper off bad food habits one meal at a time. They suggest that you should resort to conscious eating rather than mindless grubbing. Some even advise visualizing yourself transforming into a healthy you. This takes emphasis off of losing pounds and incorporates a holistic approach shedding pounds.
Think about it, if you can minimize or drop fast food from your diet, you’ll gain so many long-term benefits.
By kicking your fast food habit, you can expect to potentially experience weight loss, improved heart health, less risk of diabetes, improved thinking, more energy, and even less acne and skin problems. With all these benefits, you can’t lose! Well, except the weight, of course, and that would be a beneficial loss.
By Melisha Childs
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