During my year in recovery, what I like to call my self-love year I was researching clean foods, clean eating, and learning about the unhealthy ingredients in fast food such as the 55 ingredients in the “Chick-fil-A sandwich" I was in aha. I do not regularly eat any fast food but I do occasionally eat Chick-fil-A and I was shocked to read about how unclean their food is especially with them being a so-called Christian/Biblical values company. Read about the ingredients in the Chick-fil-A sandwich here.
I'm bringing this to your attention because when we see fruit, salads, and other healthy foods on the fast food menu we assume they are clean foods and healthy options for the healthy eating lifestyle we are trying to sustain.
Are your favorite foods safe from harmful additives?
Fast food is often criticized for being unhealthy for several reasons, including high levels of unhealthy ingredients, excessive calories, and the presence of certain additives. Here are some key factors contributing to the perception of fast food as unhealthy:
High in Unhealthy Fats: Fast food is often high in saturated and trans fats, which are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. These fats are commonly found in fried foods, such as French fries and fried chicken, and can contribute to elevated levels of bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol).
Excessive Calories: Many fast food items are calorie-dense, often exceeding recommended daily calorie intake for a single meal. Consuming excess calories on a regular basis can contribute to weight gain and obesity, which are risk factors for various health conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
High in Salt (Sodium): Fast food is often loaded with salt to enhance flavor and act as a preservative. High sodium intake is linked to hypertension (high blood pressure), which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Added Sugars: Fast food items, especially beverages and desserts, can contain high levels of added sugars. Excessive sugar consumption is associated with various health issues, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and dental problems.
Low in Nutrients: Fast food tends to be low in essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Consuming a diet lacking in these nutrients can contribute to deficiencies and negatively impact overall health.
Additives and Preservatives: Fast food often contains artificial additives and preservatives to enhance flavor, texture, and shelf life. While many of these additives are considered safe, some individuals may be sensitive to certain chemicals, and long-term effects of cumulative exposure to additives are not always well understood.
Processed Meats: Some fast food items, particularly those featuring processed meats, may contain additives, preservatives, and high levels of sodium. Processed meats have been associated with an increased risk of certain health conditions, including colorectal cancer.
Lack of Fresh Ingredients: Fast food often relies on pre-packaged and processed ingredients, with minimal emphasis on fresh produce. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables is essential for optimal health.
It's important to note that not all fast food is inherently bad, and some establishments offer healthier options. Additionally, occasional consumption of fast food may not have a significant impact on health. However, regular and excessive intake can contribute to a range of health problems. Making informed choices, being mindful of portion sizes, and incorporating a balanced and varied diet are essential for maintaining overall health and well-being.
Facts Proven by Investigation
Not all healthy food is healthy when it's loaded with toxins for self-life. According to Vani Hari author of Food Babe.
What COULD be a super healthy menu item – kale and broccoli – is ruined with the addition of yeast extract (a form of MSG), natural flavors, synthetic preservatives, and unhealthy oils (soybean and canola). It even rings in with over 30 ingredients – many of them completely unnecessary. Chick-fil-A really missed the mark here.
When you need to eat on the go and are faced with choosing fast food, it's possible to make relatively healthier choices by being mindful of your options. Here are some tips for making better choices when dining at fast food establishments:
Look for Grilled Options: Choose grilled items instead of fried. Grilled chicken or fish is generally a healthier option compared to fried alternatives.
Opt for Lean Proteins: Choose lean protein sources, such as grilled chicken, turkey, or lean beef. These options are lower in saturated fats.
Watch Portion Sizes: Fast food portions tend to be large, so consider ordering a smaller size or sharing a meal. Avoid super-sizing, and be mindful of portion control to manage calorie intake.
Choose Whole Grains: If possible, opt for whole grain options such as whole wheat bread or brown rice. This provides more fiber and nutrients compared to refined grains.
Load Up on Vegetables: Add extra vegetables to your meal whenever possible. They provide essential nutrients, fiber, and contribute to satiety.
Skip Sugary Drinks: Choose water, unsweetened tea, or other low-calorie beverages instead of sugary sodas. Sugary drinks can contribute to excess calorie intake without providing nutritional value.
Be Wary of Condiments: Be mindful of high-calorie condiments, such as mayonnaise and creamy sauces. Opt for mustard, ketchup, or vinegar for flavor without excessive calories.
Choose Salad Options: Many fast food restaurants offer salads with grilled chicken or other protein sources. Be cautious with dressings—opt for vinaigrettes in moderation.
Balance Your Plate: Aim for a balanced meal that includes protein, vegetables, and whole grains. This helps ensure you get a variety of nutrients.
Be Aware of Hidden Calories: Be cautious of hidden calories in items like salad dressings, croutons, cheese, and other toppings. Ask for these on the side so you can control the amount you use.
Consider Nutrition Information: Many fast food chains provide nutrition information on their websites or in-store. Check this information to make informed choices about the nutritional content of your meal.
Plan Ahead: If possible, plan your fast food choices in advance. Look up menus and nutritional information to identify healthier options.
Remember that the key is moderation and making choices that align with your overall health and nutrition goals. If you find yourself frequently relying on fast food, consider incorporating more home-cooked meals and snacks into your routine. It's also beneficial to stay hydrated and maintain a balanced diet even when eating on the go. I recommend doing a detox by adding more fresh-press green juice to help flush the toxins out of your body because the fact is most fast foods are full of additives and synthetic preservatives.
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Do you want help developing a self-care plan that works for your own busy schedule? Do you want accountability in implementing a self-care plan? If you or someone you love is struggling to maintain optimal mental and emotional health, consider reaching out to Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. We are a Metro Atlanta, Conyers Georgia area. We are a coaching and counseling practice with empathetic, skilled counselors and recovery coaches who can help you set goals, develop a self-care routine, and move forward to build a more fulfilling life. Our team would be happy to work with you either just for a couple of sessions to develop and implement a Self-care plan or longer term to work toward overall better mental health within our membership site or other programs.
About The Author: Dr. Nikki LeToya White MSEd-TL, Ph.D. RHN is the founder, director, and full-time board-certified trauma-informed nutritionist, folk herbalist, and wellness consultant at Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. She created Spiced Life Conversation, LLC Art Wellness Studio, and Botanica to provide the Metro Atlanta area with counseling and coaching services where clients are carefully matched with the right program for healing abandonment and childhood emotional neglect trauma that cause codependency, emotional eating, financial stress, and imposter syndrome as it relates to the fear of success and being abandon. We help you begin your emotional healing journey with ease. Recently, we have expanded to include an online membership site so we now provide support to people living all over the world. All of our recovery coaches provide at least one evidence-based treatment to assist in your recovery. Dr. White is a big proponent of self-care and helping people live a fulfilling life! She has been in full remission with both codependency and emotional binge eating disorder since 2016. In living a life in recovery from sugar addiction. I love my low-sugar balanced lifestyle.
Dr. Nikki LeToya White