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Archive for October, 2015

Advantages and Disadvantages of Fast Food

Advantages of Fast Food
Saves Time
The most evident advantage of fast food is that it saves time. In today’s fast-paced life, there is nothing better than getting a ready meal. Besides the time an individual has to spend in the kitchen, cooking a meal, also requires one to make a trip to the supermarket to buy the ingredients for the dish. Then, there is the added effort and time consumed in washing and peeling the vegetables. All this makes eating fast food more preferable over cooking a meal for a busy individual.
Saving money gives fast food an edge over the meal prepared in the kitchen. If one lives alone, then it is cheaper to buy a meal at the supermarket instead of cooking it at home. Also, certain fast foods like fries and burgers come pretty cheap.
Disadvantages of Fast Food
Usually, fast food is higher in soya, fat, sugar, oil, fried meat, salt, cheese, and mayonnaise. The greatest disadvantage of fast food is the adverse effect that it has on one’s health. It is a fact that fast food is more unhealthy than home-cooked meals, as it contains higher amounts of unwanted nutrients like salt, fat and various types of additives (artificial chemicals). It may contain harmful bacteria too. Frying also destroys most of the essential nutrients from the food. Very small amounts of vegetables and fruits are present in fast food.
Bigger is Better
Moreover, ‘serving larger portions’ when most people don’t need extra portions has led to several health problems. We require a small amount of salt to maintain the health of the cells and tissues. Fast food being rich in salt, adversely affects the heart health and the overall health of an individual. Such type of food is an important contributor to obesity in the American population. Obesity is on the rise, and a direct link is being cited between fast food and obesity in children.
High in Cholesterol
Given the sedentary lifestyle that we lead today, the excess fats and calories that we consume is not burnt. These accumulate in our body as fat deposits that cause complications like cardiovascular diseases and other related diseases of the heart. With obesity come other problems like high blood pressure and diseases of the joints. In fact, a recent study has shown that people who live within walking distance of a fast food restaurant are at 13% higher risk of suffering from strokes.
The greater the number of people at a meal in a fast food restaurant, the larger is the bill. Eating at fast food outlets is economical only for a single person. Going out to a fast food eating joint with family once in a while won’t matter much. However, frequent visits to such restaurants with one’s family can become quite an expensive affair, besides being unhealthy.
Reduces Quality Time
Fast food joints are also being seen as a factor that is making a number of families spend less and less time together. Family meal time is something that is considered as an opportunity for all the members to come together and share their experiences. However, the fast food centers are quickly eating into this quality time. This is especially true about youngsters for whom a fast food center is a good place to hangout with friends and peers.
Can it be made healthy?
Fast food does raise health concerns. However, if careful, you can find some options on the menu of a fast food restaurant that could be healthier. Salads are a smart choice. Go for bread products that are made from wheat bread. Opt for lean meat. If you could choose between the fried and boiled options, order the boiled preparation. Avoid ordering carbonic drinks when you are thirsty. Go for fruit juices, low-fat milk, diet soda. Is there anything better than plain water to quench your thirst?
These days, nutrition information of the food served (and ingredients used) is displayed on the menu card. You could always resort to the ‘make to order’ option that certain fast food outlets offer, where you could restrict the use of ingredients that are not healthy. As dessert does not play an important role in the fast food meal menu, you can keep yourself away from delicious and tempting sugary dishes.
Fast food is an invention of the modern times. Ready-made food being served fast is like a blessing after a hard day’s work. However, like everything, it has its own pros and cons. Citing a few points about the advantages of fast food does not mean that I am denying its drawbacks. It is a fact that high amounts of fats and salt in fast food are raising concerns about their adverse effect on health. However, by making some smart choices while placing the order and also resorting to an active lifestyle, we can definitely minimize the drawbacks of fast food.

Effects of Fast Food on Children

Fast foods are a wide range of easily prepared meals, and have gained in popularity with the rise of the increasingly hectic modern lifestyle. Inability to cook elaborate meals while according with the clockwork of daily life has resulted in the time-consuming ‘family dinners’ being confined to weekends, while the busy weekdays are disposed of via the likes of sandwiches, wraps and rolls.
Fast foods, per se, can be incredibly healthy meals, depending on the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the cook. However, the term has, in recent times, become almost synonymous with junk food, which is only appealing to the palate, loaded on unhealthy calories and has little or no nutritional value. While healthy fast foods, such as salads or soy burgers, are recommended for a wholesome daily diet, unhealthy fast foods (junk food), such as commercially sold burgers, aerated drinks, pastries and candy are harmful, and should be consumed in moderation. Children’s appetite and taste — notoriously difficult to control — can be severely affected by continual consumption of junk foods. The calorie-filled junk foods lead to obesity, which aids and abets numerous, more serious diseases.
Ill Effects of Junk Food
Obesity passively promotes a sedentary lifestyle, since an obese child can’t partake in physical activities as intensely as a healthy child. Embarrassment at one’s own obesity can also force a child to become reclusive. The lack of regular exercise further increases obesity, and significantly increases the chances of the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Junk foods and aerated drinks, such as sodas, lead to increased levels of blood sugar in children. This increases the chances of acquiring type 2 diabetes, i.e., the condition of natural bodily production of insulin being unable to counter the amount of blood sugar in the body.
Type 2 diabetes increases the chances of heart diseases by up to 4 times and contributes significantly to damage to the kidneys, as well as increasing chances of dementia.
Saturated fats lead to high levels of cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol is notorious for being the cause of various heart problems, and can cause major cardiac disorders.
Junk foods often contain high amounts of salts. Although they impart a mouth-watering, spicy flavor, an excess of sodium or potassium (which are irreplaceable components of salts, including sodium chloride — table salt) is prime cause for an increase in blood pressure. Disorders regarding blood pressure can have a severe inhibitory effect on an individual’s life.
The artificially induced spicy taste is said to be addictive. Children used to junk food may have trouble adjusting their palate to the relatively blander healthy foods.
Fresh fruits and vegetables supply vital nutrients and energy, which is required for the developing bodies of children. A deficiency of iron, for example, can lead to anemia. Anemia, combined with the overload of complex sugars and saturated fats found in any sample junk food, can lead to a weak and habitually lethargic child.
The virtually total absence of green (leafy) vegetables and fresh fruits in the diet causes a deficiency of macro- and micro-nutrient supplements in the body. This damages the body’s immune system and leaves children susceptible to various diseases and ailments.
Deficiency of calcium damages the teeth, nails and bones, reducing bone density and increasing the chances of skeletal damage and tooth decay.
Healthier Alternatives
As stated earlier, fast food doesn’t necessarily mean junk food. Salads, fruits (preferably fresh and whole/sliced, or else in the form of fresh fruit juice), nuts and non-processed cheese can make for healthy and tasty quick-snacks. Including more veggies and fruits in meals never hurts, although kids are likely to reject the relatively bland alternatives in favor of spicier junk foods, even if the blander options are the healthier ones. Habituating children to healthy foods without introducing junk foods from a young age is the most reliable and effective way to keep the kids off junk food, without having to admonish them. Studies have suggested that even heavy consumption of junk food by a pregnant woman can result in the child being predisposed to favor the taste.
If you can’t get your children off unhealthy fast foods, you can at least make healthier choices for them.
Getting a pizza without the usual extra cheese would go a long way. Nobody can taste the extra cheese anyway!
Burgers can be ordered with a single patty instead of the usual double, and with extra lettuce (or coleslaw), tomatoes and onions.
Whole wheat bread contains much more fiber than the white counterpart, and thus aids digestion. Making (or ordering) sandwiches made from whole wheat bread is a healthier option.
Grilled, baked and roasted meats are a better option than the fried varieties. This is due to the absence of frying oil, which contains saturated fats. This also applies to other foods that are usually fried, but can be prepared without oil, such as potatoes.
Homemade ‘junk food’ can be prepared in healthier ways, such as reducing the amount of spices, sugar and salts, or using low-fat dairy products. Freshly cooked, homemade junk foods are inherently healthier than their commercially sold avatars.
Although soups are universally agreed to be one of the healthiest foods, cream adds to their calorie content, negating their benefits. Soups without cream are undoubtedly one of the healthiest and most filling foods.
Alternatives will help decrease adverse effects, even when resigned to giving in to your children’s clamor for junk foods. However, it is worth keeping in mind that the craving for the spicy tastes is only natural, and banishing fast foods completely may only serve to fuel the craving. While junk foods are, without doubt, harmful if consumed continually, occasionally indulging in the sinful pleasure is fine. A parent-approved frequency of eating processed junk foods can also teach children the important lesson of moderation.