This is the last post in this short series on fast food. If you’d like to read the other posts, they are available as follows:- post 1, post 2, and post 3.

In the last blogpost, we covered how to use our organisational skills to help decrease (or stop) consumption of fast food.

(“Fast food” is not just what we buy in fast food restaurants. Fast foods include processed foods such as chips, lollies, breakfast cereals, white flour, baked goods, and other high-calorie, low-nutrient foods that people often eat multiple times per day.)

These fast foods have certain characteristics: they are quickly and easily available; they are ready to go right into your mouth. You can eat them rapidly and they’re absorbed very quickly into the bloodstream. (Although such foods as fruit and vegetables could fit the above description, they are not pre-processed.)

Processed fast foods typically contain multiple chemicals and synthetic ingredients. They are calorically dense, highly flavored, and nutritionally barren. Fast foods typically contain extra sugar, artificial sweeteners, salt, colouring agents, and other potentially disease promoting chemicals (1).

Remember that oils are also processed foods, even though we are encouraged to consume polyunsaturated fat. When consumed, oil enters the bloodstream rapidly similar to refined carbohydrates. Anything cooked in oil should be considered a fast food. Beans, nuts, and seeds are whole foods whose calories are absorbed gradually over hours. Calories from oil are absorbed rapidly, and are largely empty calories with insignificant micronutrients and no fibre (1).

If you set up a buffet dinner and asked 50% of the guests to consume a tablespoon of soya, maize or sunflower oil before their meal, and the other 50% of guests to consume an apple prior to their buffet, those who ate the 65-calorie apple will generally eat 65 less calories from the buffet. But those who had the 120-calorie tablespoon of vegetable oil will not usually consume 120 calories less. The oil contains nothing to decrease the appetite control. Vegetable oil may even increase appetite. When added or mixed into food, a 2012 study found that vegetable oil encouraged overeating behaviour (7).

In this post, we’ll look at all the good things that happen when we cut out fast food! If you’ve been putting the tips into action, these positive changes could have already started…

1) Weight loss

As previous emails have said, fast food contains a lot of calories. Reducing or cutting out junk food can significantly reduce our calorie intake, which leads to weight loss. If we do not want to lose weight, we can simply eat more of the myriad of healthy foods available in the shops and markets.

2) Better nutrition

Healthy food contains higher levels of vitamins, minerals, good fat, and protein than junk food contains. By decreasing or eliminating fast food, we can consume more healthy food.

3) Reduced health risks

The decrease in weight that most people see from quitting fast foods also helps reverse the risk of any coronary disease, reduces cholesterol, and restores blood sugar levels bringing the risk of type 2 diabetes down (1).

Diets low in fast food contain less saturated and trans fats. These can decrease the risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol and diabetes (1, 2,3).  A 2015 study of over 44 000 deaths demonstrated an almost 40% decrease in cardiovascular related deaths for people eating nuts and seeds regularly (one serving a day). The European PreviMed study, which randomized 7216 individuals to nuts or olive oil as part of a Mediterranean diet showed a 39% decrease in all-cause mortality in the nut eaters.(6)

There is considerable evidence today that heart disease is not only promoted by saturated fat and increased animal products but also by refined carbohydrates, including white rice, white bread, sugar, honey, and agave nectar.(1)

A decrease in sodium decreases the risk of kidney disease and high blood pressure.

More fibre (from substituting fibre-rich foods for fast food) can decrease the risk of constipation and diverticular disease.

Furthermore, refined carbohydrates may not just lead to being overweight and diabetic but also contribute to dementia, mental illness, and cancer. (1) 

Great nutrition also improves the look and texture of our skin. We can glow with health!

There are plenty of other health benefits noted by research conducted over the years (2).

4) Better immune system

Research has shown that eating fast food with too many calories (and the other substances in that diet) may lead to increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease (4).

By eating a healthy diet we can decrease the chance of this.

5) Improved mood

Recent research found that “there is now over-whelming evidence to support the fact that gut microbes have a major impact on central neurochemistry and behaviour, especially stress related disorders such as depression” (5). Diets low in refined sugars and fat have been shown by this study to help with depression. 

In addition, being health and decreasing the risk of various chronic conditions (as described in the last section) can help with mood. 

6) Better sleep

If we eat foods high in sugar or carbohydrates near bedtime, our blood sugar gets a boost, and we get a burst of energy. This can wake us up. Insulin will bring blood sugar down, and enable us to get to sleep.

However, blood sugar can then drop too low, resulting in release of stress hormones (cortisol, and adrenaline) These correct the blood sugar back to the normal levels, but may also cause us to wake up again.

By avoiding high sugar foods, we avoid this cycle and can have a better night’s sleep.

So, by avoiding (or limiting) the fast food that we eat, we can improve our mental and physical health in all of these ways!

© Lisa Billingham, 2020


Are you interested in personalised help with changing your diet? Maybe you feel that you eat too much fast food? 

If you are interested in finding out more about this (or the other help available), please give me (Lisa) a call on 0403 932311. 

We can have a chat to answer any of your questions, and to help you decide if I am the best therapist for you. All with no obligation.


References

  1. Fuhrman J. (2018). The Hidden Dangers of Fast and Processed Food. American journal of lifestyle medicine12(5), 375–381. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827618766483
  2. Huzar, T. (2019) What happens when you eat fast food? Medical News Today.  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324847
  3. Bahadoran, Z., Mirmiran, P., & Azizi, F. (2016). Fast Food Pattern and Cardiometabolic Disorders: A Review of Current Studies. Health promotion perspectives, 5(4), 231–240. https://doi.org/10.15171/hpp.2015.028
  4. Myles I. A. (2014). Fast food fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity. Nutrition journal, 13, 61. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-13-61
  5. Dinan, T.G., Stanton, C., Long-Smith, C., Kennedy, P., Cryan, J.F., Cowan, C.S.M., Cenit, M.C., van der Kamp, J-W., Sanz, Y. (2019). Feeding melancholic microbes: MyNewGut recommendations on diet and mood. Clinical Nutrition, 38 (5), 1995-2001. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2018.11.010
  6. Guasch-Ferré, M., Bulló, M., Martínez-González, M. Á., Ros, E., Corella, D., Estruch, R., Fitó, M., Arós, F., Wärnberg, J., Fiol, M., Lapetra, J., Vinyoles, E., Lamuela-Raventós, R. M., Serra-Majem, L., Pintó, X., Ruiz-Gutiérrez, V., Basora, J., Salas-Salvadó, J., & PREDIMED study group (2013). Frequency of nut consumption and mortality risk in the PREDIMED nutrition intervention trial. BMC medicine11, 164. https://doi.org/10.1186/1741-7015-11-164
  7. The National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES) (2012). Vegetable oils promote obesity. Excessive dietary omega-6 may increase our appetite and promote weight gain. http://sciencenordic.com/vegetable-oils-promote-obesity.  

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