A food item which has lots of calories but very little nutritional value is referred to as junk food. It often has high content of salt, sugar and fat. Junk food includes convenience food as well as fast food. Our body needs various minerals, vitamins and fibre to be healthy. Junk food provides none of these benefits and puts us at a risk of getting unhealthy. Potato chips, cookies and other baked goods; all are prepared in a way that they look appealing and mouth-watering and all of us fall prey to the temptation.
Junk foods have low satiation value- that is, they don’t make us feel full which often results in overeating or binge eating. Junk foods tend to replace other nutritious and healthful foods that our body requires to be healthy and fit.
It is important for a human body to eat a well-balanced diet full of nutrients and minerals such as whole grains, lean meat, fruits and vegetables. Why do we crave for junk foods? The reason is obvious, they are delicious and full of flavours. Higher amounts of salt, sugar and fat make them tasty and irresistible.
Eating junk foods in moderation and occasionally is fine. But regular binging and addiction to junk food to them needs to stop now.
Here are some bad effects of junk foods on your health:
- Nutrition deficiency: Junk food can satisfy hunger but it won’t provide any nutrition. Junk foods are source of empty calories which makes us nutritionally deficient. Consumption of vegetables, fruits and whole grains are the main source of fibre as well as other nutrients.
- Leads to obesity: Whole grain products, fruits and vegetables contain fewer calories by volume as compared to junk foods. 100 grams of french fries contains 3 times more calories than a plain baked or boiled potato. So, those french fries will add extra calories and cause unwanted weight gain.
- Heart diseases: Consuming oily and greasy junk foods and other unhealthy foods on a regular basis increases the risks of various heart disease, results in high blood pressure , high cholesterol levels and diabetes.
- Worsen appetite and digestion: Fast foods are loaded with sugar. Excessive sugar intake can cause fluctuations in blood sugar level which in turn makes the brain demand more food and further leads to overeating. It becomes difficult for the body to digest the excess food. Also, junk food has no fibre which makes them difficult to digest and causes constipation.
- Leads to depression: High sugars and fats in food can trigger certain chemical reactions in the brain and affect its functioning. The body loses its essential nutrients and amino acids , when junk foods are consumed in excess. These symptoms disable brain to deal with stress and can leave one feeling depressed.
Quitting junk food is a gradual process, especially when one is accustomed to its daily doses. Try to replace most of the food with the healthier options available, avoid the consistent eating of junk food.
Here are some useful tips about how to refrain from eating junk food:
- Cooking your own meal can help: Having a prepared meal on hand is the best way to avoid junk food to calm down those hunger pangs. Whether going to work or or for an outing, it is the best to take freshly prepared food and snacks for the way. This will refrain from eating the high-calorie junk food in any restaurant.
- Avoid the processed food sections : When shopping in a grocery store, avoid going to the processed food sections, stick to fresh produce section and pick up fresh vegetables, fruits, dairy products, grains etc. when you don’t see, you don’t buy- it’s that simple.
- Consume enough proteins: Incorporate enough protein rich foods in the diet, it will help stay full longer. Proteins have a slower rate of digestion than any other nutrient, so one won’t feel hungry soon and avoid binge eating. If one feels full, there are rare chances of grabbing an unhealthy food item or snack. Fish, legumes, nuts and vegetables are some healthy source of proteins.
- Replace sugary items with fruits: Instead of craving for a sugary foods , grab a fruit. The natural sugars in fruits are nutritious and healthy.
- Try different types of food: Try to make different meals; experimenting with tasty and healthy ingredients. Eating the same kind of food everyday can be boring and lead to craving for junk foods. Innovate those cooking skills and try different recipes of healthy meals.
- Keeping busy: Keeping busy with various activities can help manage stress. Stress can lead to junk food cravings and emotional eating. Walking, running, yoga , meditation also helps make us feel refreshed and healthy.
Avoiding junk food will not only feel better, healthier but will also improve the overall health status. Whenever cravings start to show, distract your mind, grab a fruit or go out for a walk. Substitute junk food with healthier options like fruits, nuts and vegetables.