Just like us, not all food is created equal, so what exactly is junk food?
Fish and chips, pizza, burgers, kebabs, white bread, sugar, cakes, refined sugary cereals, alcohol, fizzy drinks, sweets, crisps, chocolate bars and most ready meals; essentially they provide your body with negligible amounts of nutrients and can actually be detrimental to your health.
More than 3,000 additives are allowed for use in food processing, but no-one yet knows the effects of consuming a chemical cocktail on a daily, lifelong basis. The occasional indulgence will not plunge a healthy person into poor health, but the problem occurs when these foods are consumed on a regular basis, forming a large part of the staple diet. It’s not unusual for at least one of these food groups to be consumed every single day without the benefits of whole foods to reduce the ill-effects.
Degenerative diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis
Packaged and convenience foods often have higher levels of fats, salt and sugar and contain many obscure ingredients that wouldn’t be found in the kitchen cupboard. They may prove to be convenient but they should not form part of your everyday eating and there are many healthy nutritious foods that are very quick and simple to prepare.
What’s the alternative?
These are foods as close as possible to their natural state with the minimum added or taken away. Choosing these foods means they are likely to have a higher nutrient and fibre content without the chemical additives that processing can include. With a little planning and organisation healthy eating needn’t be a chore. Try a steamer, which is great for fish and vegetables, get a hand blender to make soups, and cook a pot of wholegrains that can last 2-3 days (keep refrigerated). Stock up on kitchen staples such as eggs, beans, tinned tomatoes and fish, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, chickpeas, sea salt and black pepper and a good quality extra virgin olive oil and you’re well on your way. Look up recipes on pinterest under the following headings - wholefoods recipes, clean eating recipes, paleo recipes.
Recommended reading: Not on the label, What really goes into the food on your plate, By Felicity Lawrence. ISBN 0-141-01566-7 Secret Ingredients, The essential guide to what’s really in the products you buy, Peter Cox & Peggy Brusseau. ISBN 0-553-50554-8