Fast Food Reality Check

A few weeks ago, we looked at the effects of fast food on the body looked more closely. Here's an update on where we stand with this delicious foe. 

Today, we all have the feeling we've got more and more to do. Time is a precious, rare commodity, and fast food is naturally a temptation. Who has time to cook? Again and again we read about how harmful fast food is, but nevertheless, it is available everywhere. Let's take a sober look at the current situation.

The Truth

To be honest, salty, greasy and sweet temptations are basically everywhere, and are here to stay. Therefore, demands for a ban are just as unrealistic, just like the hope that people would eventually give it up due to its negative health effects.

Let's face it: everyone eats fast food in one way or another, regularly or not. The most important thing to keep in mind is how often we eat fast food. Once a month is fine, but more than that, and you can pile on the pounds.

Origins & Popularity

The popularity of fast food has many reasons:

  • The taste: fat is a flavor carrier, therefore, greasy food tastes better that cooked vegetables. Add a little salt to that and no one can resist.

  • It makes us feel full quickly. The feeling of satisfaction and fullness is addicting. 

  • It goes fast and saves time. It can be quickly prepared and quickly eaten.

  • It is not subject to conventions. Unlike a 7-course meal in a top restaurant with an armada of cutlery, you can eat fast food with your fingers. It is simply practical.

Where is the Problem?

Fast food is concentrated energy. It contains a lot of fat, sugar and salt, so it is very high in calories. Unfortunately, there is often a lack of vitamins and micronutrients. If we eat fast food often and get little exercise, the body to stores this excess energy as fat, and one gains weight. In Central Europe, 2/3 of men and half of women are overweight. A quarter are still over their recommended weights.

Is Fast Food Addicting?

If you eat fast food often, it does influence your brain, and yes, it can even be addictive. When consuming sweet or greasy foods, dopamine is secreted in the brain, and a feeling of happiness sets in. The more fast food you eat, the more dopamine is secreted. The problem: over time, the dopamine receptors get used to the sensation, requiring more and more food for the same happy feeling. Studies have also observed that large amounts of fast food can cause the hippocampus to shrink, which increases the risk of dementia etc..

Sound Management of Fast Food

A ban is never useful. The aim should be to incorporate fast foods into the diet in a responsible manner. Fast food should always be eaten as a full meal, never as a snack. 

If you eat a burger, you can also substitute a salad instead of fries. Another simple but effective trick is to replace soft drinks with mineral water. Small steps lead to a healthier goal!

High Energy Foods

As already mentioned, fast food is very high-energy. This means that to eliminate the calories you consume, you need to up your workout. Let's look at two examples: kebabs and pizza.

In order to balance out the calories in a kebab, you need between 50 - 100 minutes of activity, depending on your age, gender, and health condition. Pizza is even more dramatic: you'd need to exercise between 85 and 180 minutes to burn off the calories, or about three hours of sport!

By the way, if you need a solution for fast food- just look at the words. An apple is also a fast food, isn't it? So why not try one of those next time you're hungry. Thoughtful eating can quickly lead to better habits.