We are living in times when cooking meals at home has given way to eating fast food most of the time. And if you are looking to eat healthy, this dependence on fast food is one of the most dangerous eating habits.
After all, one study estimated that fast food burgers are around 50 percent water and the actual meat percentage in these burgers is dismally low between 2.1 to 14.8 percent.
Fast food is partly to blame for the current situation where obesity and chronic illness like diabetes, heart disease and stroke are only on a signficant rise. In fact, this generation might be the first whose life expectancy might decrease. These are the precise reasons that people now look for how to stop eating fast food.
Though it will be wrong to say that fast food is the only contributing factor in this health declince, but it is definitely one of the top contributor to increasing health problems.
It is never late to get a good look at your life and see how you can improve to the best possible health standards. And when you will do that you would definitely consider how to stop eating junk food.
What makes junk food so addictive
Ask anybody who is trying to lose weight for their favorite cheat food, and the likely answer would a burger and french fries with an upsized soft drink. There is something addictive about fast food. What makes these foods so appealing. Here are a few reasons:
Fast food is hyperpalatable by design with the optimum mix of sugars, salts, fats and chemical taste enhancers. With the appealing marketing strategy, and you would start to believe that these foods are not only tasty but also healthier than your home cooked bland steak.
Fast food is also addictive because it is cheap and saves you money compared to other dining options.
Junk food is also convenient and saves time. You get a ready to eat burger withing minutes. This appears to be so helpful for working parents when come home drained from jobs and bring home fast food for themselves and their kids.
Junk food marketing is pretty much aggressive. These days they target kids who become lifelong customers of these fattening junk foods. According to an estimate, fast food companies spent around 5 billion dollars on marketing in 2012.
Fast foods are generally very high in processed foods, sugars and calories and our bodies have historically learned to eat of these as much as possible because for hunter-gatherers these foods used to be in short supply. And scientists suspect that the combinations of these salts and sugars trigger the same response from our brains that cocaine and similar drugs do.
Why you should stop eating fast food
Apparently fast food comes across as a life saver for today’s busy lifestyles where people find it hard to get enough time to prepare home cooked food. But it is not as friendly as it appears. Fast food invariably leads to weight gain, unless you are genetically blessed and can put up with fast food without belly fat.
Because of its processed ingredients and unhealthy levels of salt, fats and sugar, the results of eating too much fast food clearly outweigh the benefits of junk food. Below are some of the problems with fast food:
- Loaded with calories – Common fast food meal that we eat sometimes has more calories than we would eat in one whole day. And these calories add up as fat and lead to weight gain.
- High saturated fats – which are exactly the type of fats that has been clearly linked with cardiovascular disease
- Unusually high amounts of preservatives are added to fast food
- Many fast food recipes use fillers called “pink slim” which has been treated with strong chemicals
- Deficient nutrient profile – Most fast food meals are noway as nutritious as home cooked foods because processed food has lower or absent nutrients. So not only losing weight becomes difficult but you are also eating nutrient deficient food.
- Low fiber levels – which means that your digestion will be affected as well as your cholesterol readings would start going towards the upper limits because of lack of protective effects of fiber.
How to stop eating fast food and start eating nutritious food
So, what are the strategies you could use to start eating healthy diet when your life is so pressed with responsibilities realted to school, work, social life and other activities, leaving you little time for cooking food?
I agree that it would be a mammoth challenge to bring about a lifestyle change but it would be a challenge that you would always wish you had started earlier.
Here is how to go about that challenge:
Review your lifestyle
Take a hard look at your busy life schedule and try to make sense of why you are living such a busy life and what are the things that make you so busy in the first place. If you are living a life that is always over scheduled, then it is more than just about diet. You would most likely be sleep deprived and with high stress levels which might severely impact your health.
So, ensure that you are tyring to do too much in the first place. Try to say goodbye to unneeded responsiblities. For example, if you are spending too much time trying to help children do too many activities after school, try to limit to one.
Try to schedule one night every week for the sole purpose of relaxing and enjoying quality time only without any scheduled activities. If you are social butterfly, try to limit your social gathering to one per week or ideally one per month.
Make nutrition a priority
Make nutrition a bigger priority in your household after you have pared down your activities list. It is not as challenging as you might imagine and the rewards would blow your mind.
You can do many things to keep working a hectic life without compromising nutritious diet. Here are a few tips that would help you to make the most of your available time and budget:
Plan ahead. By planning ahead you can make sure that the ingredients needed for preparing your favorite meal are available beforehand. A good strategy might be to have a weekly or monthly meal calendar to keep you organized and free from decision fatigue from thinking on what to cook.
Keep convenient, quick foods on hand. When you are always on the move, your best bet is to cook foods that have minimal preparation time and which you could eat even on the go. By having a good stock of healthy snacks like nuts, yogurt, trail mix, plenty of fruits and granola bars, you keep yourself well-prepared to deal with hunger pangs between meals.
Use crock-pot cooking. Crock-pot can cook food for you if you add certain ingredients to it. So make use of it and come home to a meal that is fully cooked and home made.
Keep eye one sale items. If you prefer fast food because it is cheap and wonder how to stop eating fast food because of budget constraints, then one tip is to take advantage of sales. Stock up your favorite healthy foods when these are on sale. And freeze these nutrient laden fruits, vegetables, and store meats for later use.
Learn quick recipes. By learning quick recipes that are easy to follow, you could ensure implementation of your plan of avoiding fast food. You would not struggle with cooking if you have your go-to meals that you are an expert at making within a few minutes.
Prepare meals ahead of time. Try to prepare your meals for the coming week on the weekend and you would not have to worry about what to cook or eat for the whole week. This is a great way to stay away from fast food.
Prepare sandwiches and soup. Both of these make as a quick dinner if you are truly pressed for time. Either prepare your soup at home or try prepared soup with a sandwich based on chicken or meat. This will be definitely healthier than the fast food sandwich.
Make portions of foods. Wash fresh produce and make portions and store in individual containers. When you would feel like preparing food, you can do it quickly on a busy night.
Brown bag your lunch. Most people find it hard to avoid fast food at lunchtime, though they do eat home cooked breakfast and dinner. By packing your lunch to your work, you would not feel pressed to take a quick bite at a fast food restaurant because of hunger attack. A good tip is to brown bag your lunch the night before so that you do not ignore it in the morning rush.
By making a well planned decision that you will not eat fast food, it will not take much time before you start eating regular healthy meals and make healthy eating part of your lifestyle. And the best thing is that if you are worried about how to stop eating fast food when it is cheaper, these tips would help you do that on a budget and withing your financial power.