Fast Food for a Fast Lifestyle

Source: Pixabay It’s undeniable that, back in ancient times, there were no such treats as donuts, fried chicken or hamburgers. Whether you believe in evolution or not, there can be no arguing that our ancestors would have only eaten what was readily available to them – animal meat, plants, nuts, seeds and, in some instances, roots and tubers. The birth of agriculture gave rise to the concept of mass production and processing of food. Products like rice, wheat and grain were not only affordable to cultivate and harvest, but the products we were able to make from them were easy to store, incredibly versatile and, well, admittedly delicious. Modern man no longer needed to hunt and gather resources for nourishment, and the carbohydrate content of the aforementioned foods meant we needed less to feel fuller, for longer. Fast forward a few hundred years and carb-rich, processed foods continue to dominate the global food scene, with many products targeting the middle class, with a focus on the appeal of ‘grab and go’ breakfasts, hand-held lunches for the man in a rush, and even those family meal deals, with however many pieces of fried chicken and a jumbo soda. Even in non-Western countries, in spite of so many Western fast food chains, there are local forms of quick junk foods, be it street noodles or deep fried buns. We humans are hardwired; it would seem, to seek these foods out. But, are these kinds of dietary choices healthy?

Raising the Price on Raised Awareness

The turn of the century saw an influx of new and allegedly revolutionary diets and lifestyles, all of which demonised fast food for what it is: unhealthy. Studies from various sources over the years have concluded the undeniable correlation between too many processed foods in a person’s diet, and incidents of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and plenty of other health concerns. Whether you’re a follower of a Paleo diet, Keto, the Atkins phenomenon or even Banting, one thing is certain: in order to be healthy and lean, one needs to limit or completely eradicate all fast, junk and processed foods from their diet. This includes too much sugar, carbohydrates and starches. Conversely, some diets like Banting, encourage the uptake of more animal fats like meat and even eggs, but don’t provide much conclusive evidence around the effects of one’s cholesterol. One thing that has continued to deter even would-be health nuts from really making the most of any of these aforementioned health crazes, is how expensive they are. It’s just the reality that some foods like fresh salmon, lamb chops and avocados, are simply too pricey to include in one’s diet every week, let alone every day. Products like olive oil or coconut oil are invariably way more expensive than their less-healthy counterparts like sunflower oil or canola oil. A bag of rice, which could feed a family of four for more than a week, continues to be more expensive than a single punnet of fresh fruit. Free-range eggs are always more expensive than grain-fed, and so on. It’s just common knowledge that fresh fruits and veggies are more expensive to farm than crops like wheat and grain, due to the fact that human labour is involved as opposed to grandiose machines. What’s more, many international governments don’t subsidise leafy green vegetables the way they do wheat, corn and soy – vital ingredients in junk food. In essence, eating unhealthy is just more affordable. That’s part of the reason why obesity is so prevalent in countries with lower GDPs. It’s an unfortunate scenario, of course, but is there a way to get around it?

Everything in Moderation

After all said and done, one thing is for certain: very few people live on a diet consisting exclusively of junk food, and even the most health-conscious among us still enjoy a sweet treat now and then. In today’s modern lifestyle, with stress taking a definitive toll on our health and wellness, it’s more important than ever to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, combined with regular exercise. How far you wish to take this is ultimately up to you, but there’s plenty to enjoy along the fast food front, with a few tweaks along the way. For example, opt for braised or steamed vegetables in a restaurant over those fried in oil. Drizzle olive oil over your salad instead of sugar-laden dressings. Skip the jumbo cola at the movies and try a flavoured sparkling water instead. There will always be some truth the old adage ‘everything in moderation’, and the same can definitely be said of dietary choices. Sure, if you’re a die-hard Keto fan, then good for you. For the rest of us humans, though, it’s okay to enjoy a fizzy drink now and again, “just make mine sugar free.”

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