You’ve probably heard that eating fast food and junk food can be detrimental to your overall health. People who consume fast food on a regular basis are more than 50% more likely to develop depression compared to those who eat little or no fast food. Some studies attribute this dramatic statistic to the lack of vital nutrients found in most fast foods. Burgers, sausage, pizza and muffins, doughnuts, croissants and other common baked goods all lack vital B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids and healthy fats. Additionally, people who consume fast food on a regular basis consume more calories, fat and trans fats, carbohydrates, sugar, starch, and sodium. They also consume less quality protein, fruit, and low-glycemic vegetables than those who do not eat fast foods. All this adds up to an unhealthy body—and mind.
Fast food can be loaded with genetically modified ingredients, artificial flavors and other harmful, potential toxic chemicals. It typically contains high amounts of processed grains, sugar, starch or factory farmed meats. Add to that a sugary soft drink with more harmful chemicals, no nutritive value, addictive caffeine and more blood-sugar-spiking calories and it’s not hard to see how your mental and physical health can be affected. As the saying goes, you are what you eat.
You can take a giant step toward improving your overall health by avoiding the fast food trap and focusing on natural, wholesome, balanced nutrition. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can improve your mood and reduce your risk of developing depression by naturally regulating the hormonal reactions responsible for the uptake and release of neurotransmitters. Additionally, a 40-30-30 balanced ratio of carbohydrate, protein, and fat can help stabilize blood sugar fluctuations and mood swings.
Given all this, it makes a lot of sense to eat locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables as well as organic animal foods like meat, eggs and butter. The Slow Food USA movement is on the rise, so it’s getting easier to find these foods your area. Plus, you get the added benefit of becoming an advocate for food that’s good for you, the people who grow it, and the planet. And if you do occasionally eat fast food, look for restaurants that specialize in using fresh, local or organic ingredients.
For those inevitable times when you need a quick, small meal or snack, try doing what I do to avoid eating muffins, donuts, burgers, fries and soda: Reach for a Balance Bar and water. You’ll save hundreds of unwanted calories, and money too, while having the mental satisfaction and happiness that you powered your body with a healthier on-the-go snack.
Joyce Daoust is a Certified Nutritionist and national best selling co-author of:
THE FORMULA, A Personalized 40-30-30 Weight Loss Program.