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The rise of convenience food, or processed food, has been encouraged by us all leading busier and busier lives. So many of us, after a long day at work, lack the energy to make a fully blown homemade meal and so resort to ready made meals and snacks to help feed our hunger void. But while it may fill us up for a little while, it does not fuel us for very long. In fact, convenience food has long been shown by nutritionists to be bad for us. But why? And what can we do instead?
Not all convenience food is created equal - not all of it will be as bad as some can be. But the fact of the matter is, if you are buying food that is highly processed, you are buying food that is far more inferior than food that has been freshly prepared.
To get you to like the flavour of processed foods - given that they are often so far from raw ingredients - creators add a large amount of salt and sugar. Salt is bad for you as it can cause you to retain water which can make movement more difficult and also contribute to a higher blood pressure which puts you at a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes. Sugar, on the other hand, can lead you to gain weight if you do not burn off the extra calories you are ingesting and can also promote diabetes.
A lot of fat or oil is often added to processed foods so that the texture of it on our tongues is pleasurable. Actually, if the raw constituents of the processed food were broken down into their component parts - and you saw just how much oil or fat was being added to your convenience food of choice, you probably would not want to eat it. You are likely to find it grossly unappetizing. Fat can obviously lead to many health issues. When you gain weight, you put the rest of your body under a lot more pressure. Your organs have to work twice as hard to get half as much done and simple things like going for a walk become much more difficult.
Preservatives are incredibly bad for the body. And, when eaten in high amounts like a diet heavily based on convenience food provides, you are increasing your risk of a number of health issues. Not only are you more likely to suffer from obesity, food laden with preservatives like MSG have also been shown to contribute to diabetes, heart disease, strokes and cancer.
The thing with convenience food is that it is actually ludicrously expensive for what you are getting. Many ready made meals cost as much as the raw ingredients themselves - but those raw ingredients could be used to make 10 times as much of the end product. Yet, when we are in a rush, often the cost goes out the window and we end up paying so much more for our food.
Think about your lunch time meal during a day at the office. You will likely spend £5-10 every day on your lunch - on the convenience of having someone else make your food for you. Yet, you could probably make the same sandwich or lunch for the entire week on just the cost of one store bought meal on its own.
The fuel and energy it takes to make processed and convenience food is also very bad for the environment. Just by looking at the food itself, the amount of packaging it takes just to make one ready meal or one store bought sandwich, in comparison to buying the raw ingredients from the supermarket is substantially more. More often than not, that packaging will be single use plastic. Then, the processes used to make some processed food will often emit far more carbon and other chemicals into the air that are bad for the environment. The same simply cannot be said of making a meal at home.
Lastly, convenience food simply does nothing for your body. It often has little to no nutritional value. It is so overly processed that no helpful nutrients or minerals are left for your body. Nutrients and minerals that your body needs to run properly. What’s left is often saturated fats that clogs arteries and make it difficult for blood to pump around your body.
Plus processed food is actually very difficult for your body to digest properly too. It is because it is lacking in those very nutrients that help the gut break down food into helpful parts. Even foods like store bought, highly commercialised fruit juices have little remaining nutritional value. Home made, freshly squeezed orange juice, in comparison, is loaded with vitamin C, to name just one vitamin, along with a load of fiber that helps your gut digest everything else you eat.
When read together, the disadvantages of conveniences really do outweigh the benefits of the time saving that convenience food provides. Plus, there are ways to quicken the pace of homemade food preparation so that even the time saving that convenience foods immediately give everyone starts to diminish. Many individuals will benefit from, in an effort to save time in the kitchen, spending a concerted hour or two in the kitchen every weekend, batch cooking and pre prepping ingredients so that when it comes to making lunches and suppers. And, then, the temptation to order a pizza or buy a ready meal is reduced. Instead, creating food is incredibly easy.
Or, you could subscribe to many of the meal kit delivery services out there that are helping its customers eat nutritionally balanced meals with ease. Meal kit delivery services simply drop off ingredients at a customer’s door. Those ingredients are for easy to make recipes for an affordable price. Yet these companies do not scrimp on quality. While they are convenient, they are not laden with sugar, salt or fat so you can be assured you are making great food for you and the rest of your family every time.