Food that we eat today has changed more in the past 30 years, than in the past 3,000 years. What is even more astonishing is that these changes have occurred without the public even knowing it or having the chance to debate it. How has this happened?
We are now a culture that is very distant from where our food comes from. We are alienated from our food industry. We don’t see how the food is made or what chemicals, food coloring or fillers are added to them and this can be very dangerous for us.
Fast food companies are especially guilty of wanting to hide information of how their food was made. Many would be in disbelief if they knew where their burgers and chicken nuggets really came from.
With the popularity of the fast food chains and trying to make meals faster and cheaper, animals are now raised different. Birds now live in one building for their entire life until slaughter.
Chickens are fed grains with antibiotics and arsenic to help them to grow faster and bigger. Chickens have become so obese from the feed and not having any space to walk in, they are having heart attacks and dying among the other chickens.
In the hog facility, you will see thousands of hogs in one building their entire life. They will never breathe the fresh air outside nor spend time in the outdoor sun and eat off the land. In addition, the cattle are given growth hormones in their ears to help them grow faster.
What are the health concerns of eating fast food?
Many of us are familiar with the film documentary called Super Size Me. Morgan Spurlock’s film follows a 30-day period in 2003 during which he only eats food off of the McDonald’s menu.
The film documents this lifestyle’s drastic effects on both Spurlock’s physical and psychological health, and explores the fast food industry’s corporate influence, including how it encourages poor nutrition for its own profit. Spurlock dined at McDonald’s restaurants three times per day, and ate every item on the chain’s menu at least once.
As a result, Spurlock gained 24.5 pounds, had a 13% body mass increase, saw an increased cholesterol level of 230, and experienced mood swings, sexual dysfunction, and fat accumulation to his liver. With all the damage done to his body, it took him fourteen months to lose the weight gained from his 30-day experiment.
Fast food is loaded with calories from refined sugars and hydrogenated fats (trans fat). It is also very high in sodium, but very low in dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals.
The most common link between fast food and health problems is the obesity epidemic sweeping the nation.
It is no secret that fast food companies use high fat meats in their meals. Beef that is high in fat is cheaper, but it also contains more trans and saturated fats that leaner cuts of meat do not contain. In addition to serving lower quality meats with high amounts of grease, fast food restaurants are currently making their portion sizes bigger than ever.
Another piece of important information is that a USDA study reported that 78% of today’s beef that is used in the fast food industry contains fecal matter. If that doesn’t kill your appetite I don’t know what will.
In addition, one common piece of advice to maintain a healthy lifestyle is to buy/eat foods with less than 5 ingredients. The less ingredients a food has, the closer that it is to its natural state and to being a whole food. Fast food meals are very far from this recommendation. For example, the Premium Chicken Breast Strips at McDonald’s has 25 ingredients.
There is no doubt that fast food restaurants have contributed significantly to our country’s obesity epidemic. Fast food meals lack the necessary micronutrients that our bodies require to function at its best and instead, it plagues our body with ingredients that tear down our health.
The starting point for a healthier lifestyle is to exercise your power of choice and be more conscious with what you are eating and where the food came from. There is no denying that fast food is quick and convenient, but the risks that it has on your health should not be ignored.
What can you do to avoid the temptation of entering a local drive-thru?
A quick tip is to keep convenient and easy snacks available at all times. You can put together zip lock bags of a healthy trail mix or keep fruit on hand when you know you will be away from your kitchen and might need a snack.
You can also pack a lunch and keep it in your car when you will be on the road for long periods of time and know you won’t have time to stop at home. If your kids keep you busy running from one place to the next, bring along some baggies of peanuts, popcorn, carrot sticks, crackers with almond butter or cut up fruit for the car ride.
The key to having healthy snacks available is to always plan ahead and prepare for when you will need them! If you know that your next few days will be busy, fill up and organize those baggies and plan which snacks you will bring along each day!
Once you get in the habit of preparing healthy snacks, you will find that the need to grab something from a fast food restaurant diminishes greatly!