Not all food is created equal. But what exactly is junk food?
Fish and chips, pizza, burgers, kebabs, white bread, sugar, cakes, refined sugary cereals, alcohol, fizzy drinks, sweets, crisps, chocolate bars and most ready meals; essentially, they provide your body with negligible amounts of nutrients and can actually be detrimental to your health.
More than 3,000 additives are allowed for use in food processing, but no-one yet knows the effects of consuming a chemical cocktail on a daily, lifelong basis. The occasional indulgence will not plunge a healthy person into poor health, but the problem occurs when these foods are consumed on a regular basis, forming a large part of the staple diet. It’s not unusual for at least one of these food groups to be consumed every single day without the benefits of whole foods to reduce the ill-effects. It is not unusual for our children to attend school with a lunch box filled with these processed, chemical laden-products in place of real foods.
What are the dangers of eating junk?
These foods can contribute to:
- Weight gain, cravings and bingeing
- Digestive problems; constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, cramping
- Low energy, poor sleep and low libido
- Poor concentration, mood swings
- Premature ageing, poor skin tone, hair and nails
- Weakened immune system
- Degenerative diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis
- Depression and other mental health issues
- Long-term nutritional deficiencies
Packaged and convenience foods often have higher levels of polyunsaturated fats, and sugar. They contain many obscure ingredients that wouldn’t be found in the kitchen cupboard. While they may prove to be convenient at time, they should not form part of your everyday eating. There are more nutritious foods that are very quick and simple to prepare such as eggs, cheese, chicken pieces, vegetable sticks. These can be dipped into quality dressings made with full fat yoghurt, sour-cream or cream-cheese to create interesting and tasty choices.
What’s the alternative?
Choose whole foods. Whole foods are foods that are as close as possible to their natural state with the minimum number of ingredients being added or removed. Choosing these foods mean they are likely to have a higher nutrient content and be more satiating without the chemical additives that processing can include. They are also very tasty.
Read food labels, become familiar with the ingredients in your food and start making better decisions about what you put into your body.
Not on the label, What really goes into the food on your plate, By Felicity Lawrence. ISBN 0-141-01566-7
Secret Ingredients, The essential guide to what’s really in the products you buy, Peter Cox & Peggy Brusseau. ISBN 0-553-50554-8