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The Dangers of an Eating Out, Fast Food Lifestyle – Homemade Foods Will Save Your Life!
Could you really say that your last meal was nutritionally balanced? Did it provide your body with an assortment of the vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fats it needs to function properly? Was there any fresh fruit or vegetables with it or did they come out of a packet, tin or the freezer? The question to really consider is, “Was it the kind of meal your grandmother would have made?
According to a recent AC Nielsen Online survey, consumers the world over reported they simply do not have the time to prepare meals from scratch. Consumers in 41 countries were asked whether they had too much, enough or too little of time, information, energy, space or money to prepare meals from scratch. Just over 56% said they didn’t have enough time. Beyond convenience, one third cited cheaper than buying all the ingredients and preparing from scratch as their reason for purchasing ready to eat meals.
But what value do we place on our health? Do you really know what went into the preparation of the food you purchased and does it contain ingredients which are nutritionally beneficial for your body?
How many times have you gone out, purchased food and within hours after eating it started to feel heavy in the head &/or a bit sick in the stomach? We put so much trust in the person who prepared the food; that they had good hygiene and food handling skills. What had they being doing before they made your food?
Food poisoning is commonly experienced in those who eat out frequently, with the study “Food Safety and the New Zealand Public” showing just over 2 in 10 respondents experienced food poisoning over the last two years; with most of these (83%) occurring outside the home. Around half of those surveyed declared that they had observed poor food safety practices in outlets over the last two years. 83% of respondents expressed concern about chicken, 78% for shellfish and 76% for food displayed in warming ovens such as pies.
As a naturopath I frequently see people who are suffering with health problems relating to something bad they have ingested. Some have returned from a trip to the islands or Asia, but there are also those who have eaten out recently and experienced a case of food poisoning. Not only can you have the common digestive problems such as diarrhoea and abdominal pain, but many people also experience joint and muscular pain, fatigue, headaches, fever, skin and hair problems, as well as low levels of nutrients, such as B vitamins and iron.
If you have eaten something bad and you have vomiting &/or diarrhea, seek professional advice, as dehydration is a common problem experienced with food poisoning. Some cases of food poisoning are notifiable; so to help prevent other people experiencing the same problem as you, make sure you report all incidences. If you do eat or drink something bad, consider Activated Charcoal. The binding ability of charcoal has been known for centuries, with the story of a prominent French chemist in 1813 who drank 150 times the normal lethal dose of arsenic without ill effect. His secret? He had mixed the arsenic with charcoal. Charcoal was used in gas masks in WWI and is still used today in protective masks and suits against hazardous chemicals, nerve gas and other biological toxins. Each particle contains many small chambers and cavities that capture or bind up unwanted materials and gas. This can be taken in a capsule and is a valuable addition to the medicine cabinet or travel bag. Taking a probiotic supplement, such as Reuteri or Inner Health Plus is vital with food poisoning, as these friendly bacteria have been found to populate the bowel quickly, helping to relieve some of the symptoms experienced with food poisoning in hours. Aloe vera juice can also help to relieve gastric distress and is well worth considering with digestive problems.
But does it really take that long to prepare a meal from scratch? Do we really not have the time to make proper meals or are there other reasons why we eat out so much?
Recent figures from March 2007 show sales of burgers, fish and chips, pies, ice cream, pizza and ethnic food have risen 88% since 2002, a huge difference from 1995-2002, when figures remained relatively flat. Statistics New Zealand tell us that in January of this year, takeaway food sales were $103 million (can you believe this!)
New Zealanders have been ranked 17th in a list of the worlds most obese people – fatter than Australians, Britons, Canadians and Fijians and gaining on Americans. Overall, 68% of New Zealanders are classed as Obese by the world health organization. Child obesity has trebled in the past decade, with 1 in 3 now overweight or obese. Obese children mean obese adults. This is a problem for many reason, as obesity is associated with heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and some cancers.
Maintaining a balanced body weight is vitally important for growing children. A child’s diet may determine whether she develops breast cancer in later life, according to expert Professor Paul Kleihues from the World Health Organisation. The disease – the number one killer among women aged 35-54 years – could be triggered early in life by an unhealthy diet of fast food, Professor Kleihues has warned. He said parents should avoid offering high fat, low fiber diets full of processed food, dairy products and meat. He warned: “Thirty per cent of tumors in breast, prostate and colon cancer are associated with poor nutrition”.
Australian and New Zealand studies over the last 10 years, on food advertising during children’s television viewing times, found that on average there are 26 ads per hour and of these Food ads comprise approximately 34% of all ads or 8 ads per hour. On average, 72% of ads promote non-nutritious foods, and ads for chocolate, confectionary, fast food restaurants and sweetened breakfast cereals tend to top the list. In addition, the study found that confectionary and fast food restaurant ads are broadcast heavily during the pre and post dinner period, 5-8pm and that these are broadcast up to three times more heavily during children’s programs than adult programs. Recent studies show that this kind of advertising works, as children from families with high TV use during meals consume more of the highly advertised “unhealthy foods” (pizza, salty snack, soft drinks) and less fruit and vegetables.
What about Morgan Spurlock, the American documentary film director, known for the documentary film Super Size Me, in which he attempted to demonstrate the negative health effects of McDonald’s food by eating nothing but McDonalds three times a day, every day, for one month. At the end of 1 month his cholesterol, blood pressure and body fat levels increased dramatically and he complained of an empty unsatisfied feeling, probably due to a lack of essential nutrients.
Experts tell us that the Mediterranean diet is an ideal model to follow. There are many variations of this, but the common Mediterranean dietary pattern has these characteristics:
o high consumption of fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds
o olive oil is an important monounsaturated fat source (choose organic extra virgin)
o dairy products, fish and poultry are consumed in low to moderate amounts, and little red meat is eaten
o eggs are consumed zero to four times a week
o wine is consumed in low to moderate amounts (red wine)
People who follow the average Mediterranean diet eat less saturated fat than those who eat an average kiwi diet. In fact, saturated fat consumption is well within the Heart Foundations Nutritional guidelines. More than half the fat calories in a Mediterranean diet come from monounsaturated fats (mainly from olive oil). Monounsaturated fat doesn’t raise blood cholesterol levels the way saturated fat does.
The most important consideration for making easy, nutritious meals, is to think ahead so you can be prepared and have the ingredients you need to throw something yummy together. Most chefs would agree that the secret to a great meal is to keep it simple.
Dinner should contain some kind of protein such as fish, seafood or some other kind of meat. This can be purchased on the day, or individual servings could be retrieved from the deep freeze. A salad can be simply made, buy tossing mesculin or other salad greens with vinegar and olive oil. Chopped tomatoes, capsicum and cucumber are excellent additions, as is a handful of lightly toasted pine nuts or some tamari roasted seeds.
Planter boxes can be positioned around the house, with herbs such as rocket, basil, parsley and chives and vegetables such as tomatoes, capsicum and lettuce being easy to grow in this way. It is so relaxing to come home in the evening and seeing how my latest plants are coming along, thinking how I can incorporate them into my daily meals.
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