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Can You Live on Fast Food Alone?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 8 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Fast Food Mcdonalds Morgan Spurlock

The human body is well placed to be able to survive all sorts of disasters – famine being one of them. But every nutritional expert worth their salt (and fat and calories) will tell you that a diet of fast food is inherently bad for you, and that eating a daily diet laden with nutritional no-nos could well make you very sick.

Processing food is said to strip out a lot of the nutrients that we need – for example most burger buns are white, and the food in most fast food joints is highly processed and contains chemicals which preserve, enhance the flavour and more. So on the face of it, a diet that consists of just high street fast food isn’t going to do you any good whatsoever.

Morgan Spurlock – Super Size Me

A case in point of someone who tried to exist on fast food for a whole month is Morgan Spurlock, the author of Super Size Me, which was also turned into a film. He came up with the idea after seeing a news story on the television in America about two teenage girls who were suing McDonalds because they claimed that eating McDonalds’ foods had made them fat.

The experiment that ensued meant that Spurlock had to eat McDonald's meals every day, and was not allowed to eat anything else for 30 days. He also had a rule that if he was offered the ‘super sized’ option, he had to take it. He ended up eating around double his recommended calorie intake for the 30 days he was eating at McDonalds.

He also cut down on his exercise, to make the experiment even more representative of the ‘typical American lifestyle’. When he started the diet, he was assessed as being of above average health and his fitness levels were also above average....and shockingly as well as gaining almost two stone in weight (25 pounds) he also ended the 30 days with liver dysfunction and depression. He carried out the experiment under doctor’s supervision, and the doctors actually compared the results of the diet to a case of ‘severe binge alcoholism’.

Not only that, but after the self imposed junk food binge was over, it took Spurlock fourteen months to lose the weight that he had gained.

What is Fast Food?

Of course, there are other types of fast food that aren’t burgers and McDonalds, so maybe this was an unfair example of how a fast food diet can affect your health. It’s possible to choose better quality fast food, and make your choices more healthy and nutritious, but the bottom line is that the more processed a food is, the worse it is likely to be for your health.

You could eat convenience foods as part of a balanced diet:

  • Breakfast: Choose some fruit – you can get fruit snacks from fast food outlets, coffee shops and sandwich bars. Some fast food shops sell porridge and granola, or raisin bread. All possibly healthy options for a breakfast on the move.
  • Lunch: Choose a sandwich bar and opt for a salad with fresh ingredients; a sandwich with a low fat filling on wholegrain bread; soup or a jacket potato. Add some fruit or yoghurt, and you have a perfectly healthy fast food lunch.
  • Dinner: You could choose one of the healthier fast food options from the take away menu, or choose a healthy eating option ready meal from a supermarket. Just remember that if you choose a ready meal, you can check the fat, sugar, salt and additives and they don’t have to be unhealthy. Add a salad, or some cooked vegetables, and you’ve probably managed your five a day!

So, you can eat fast food, even regularly, if you are looking after your health. Limit the higher fat, calorie laden takeaways, and add salads, fruit and vegetables to as many choices as you can, and fast food doesn’t necessarily have to mean a bad diet.

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