We all love fast food don’t we? This is why there is a variety of options in every city practically on every corner. A Cheeseburger there, the best French fries over here... Ohhh the hot dogs and even the curly fries! Not to mention you can even get dessert, like a shake or a McFlurry to go with that!
A steady diet of double cheeseburgers and fries washed down with an over-sized soda or milkshake often leads to a bigger waistline and other health problems. When the University of Minnesota tracked 3,031 women and men for 15 years, they found that those who ate fast food twice a week compared to less than one a week gained 10 extra pounds and were twice as likely to have a pre-diabetic condition called insulin resistance.
What no one could see: Thanks to the type of fats used until recently in French Fries and deep-fried offerings at fast food restaurants, frequent diners may also have raised their heart attack risk by 25 to 100 percent. Trans fats raise “bad” LDL cholesterol, lower “good” HDLs, raise blood fats called triglycerides that contribute to the hardening of the arteries, and fire up inflammation – an immune-system response that’s involved in the build-up of fatty plaque in the artery walls. There’s also evidence that a steady fast-food diet packs more fat around your abdomen, raising your odds for heart disease and diabetes still higher. Eating fried chicken pieces and French fries on a regular basis could double your heart attack. Got you scared yet?
Okay, so what now? How can I stop this habit?
It will take permanent lifestyle changes that won’t be easy at first. Fast food is super-convenient, surprisingly inexpensive, and thanks to all its fat, salt, and sugar, undeniably tasty. Healthy eating takes more time and thought, and in some cases, more money. But the health benefits of making the switch will be immediate and substantial.
In addition to losing weight, slimming your waistline, and protecting yourself from heart disease and diabetes, you’ll save several dollars a day if you make your own meal instead of buying fast food.
Here are some tips to turn your fast food habit around:
Wean yourself off slowly. Most people cannot end a habit cold turkey, and that holds true for fast-food consumption. Cut back a little per week, and each time you go, buy a little less than you used to and start ordering healthier choices like fruit slices or yogurt parfaits.
Start off by cutting out the soda. Soda consumption really hurts your health. And fast-food restaurants love to serve up monster-size cups of soda. Switch to milk, coffee, or bottled water to save hundreds of unwanted calories.
Switch from burgers to chicken. In particular, switch to grilled chicken. These sandwiches are usually one of the healthiest choices on a fast-food menu. If going for a salad, choose the grilled chicken and get the salad dressing on the side and use just a tiny bit.
Switch from fries to salad. Those fries are cooked in pure fat, and are covered in salt. Fast-food salads may not have the crunch of a French fry, but they are more satisfying than you might realize, and they are considerably more healthy.
End the impulse visits. The worst health sin is to pot a drive-thru window, and impulsively turn in for a quickie hamburger, even if you aren’t all that hungry or it’s not mealtime. Put a firm halt to these kind of mad meals and noshes.
Switch to grocery stores. On the road and need a fast meal? Go to a grocery store and get some fruit, a cup of yogurt, a prepared salad, and maybe a six-pack of sushi. Every major grocery store chain has responded to the need for fast meals with lots of healthy choices. You likely can eat a greater volume of food and consume fewer calories.
Try local sandwich shops. Wherever you go, privately owned sandwich shops are there. Walk in, order a turkey on whole-wheat and a salad on the side, chat is up with the owner, and leave with a much healthier meal – and the good feeling of supporting an entrepreneur.
Make your own. You can eat with confidence in your own kitchen. How about leftover roast beef on a crusty roll, a handful of plump cherry tomatoes, crunchy carrots, and a fresh orange? Wash it down with unsweetened ice tea.
Get your health tested. Eating frequent fast-food restaurant meals is indicative of a generally unhealthy lifestyle. IF you want to switch to the healthy side, get to a doctor soon for a full battery of health screenings. Finding out the damage that has been done can be strong motivation for ending your fast-food restaurant visits. Likely your doctor will test your cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood sugar levels, as well as other vitals.
I myself have been visiting too many fast food restaurants lately and I am going to work these tips into my life right now. How about you?
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