For the purposes of this post, let’s define “fast food” as the super-processed, calorie-dense food that you can order from a chain restaurant. You know these franchises when you see them – there are millions of fast food restaurants around the world, and they all offer the same low-quality food that’s virtually devoid of anything nutritious.
It’s no secret that fast food is bad for you. And we mean bad. Below are some of the biggest issues with picking up dinner from the drive-thru.
Research seems to indicate that fast food is designed to get you hooked. Their recipes are formulated to be hyper-palatable, meaning they engage the pleasure centers in your brain and kick them into overdrive every time you take a bite. Enough habitual consumption of these hyper-palatable foods, and you can’t get enough.
The key culprits that make fast food so addictive are threefold: sugar, fat, and salt. No big surprises there. These ingredients are all perfectly okay in moderation, but there’s nothing moderate about how they’re used in fast food. The research is still limited, but it looks as though too much of these ingredients can decrease your body’s receptiveness to leptin, the hormone that lets your body know when you’re full. Now that’s scary.
That addictive combination of tons of sugar, salt, and fat, keeps customers coming back to the fast food chains, so they have no reason to make their recipes healthier. While some chains have begun to offer “lighter” fare in response to criticism of the junk on their menus, not much has changed. Even the stuff on a fast food menu that gets labeled “healthy” is, in many cases, far from it. While there might be a few more veggies included, you’re still dealing with tons of salt, fat, and sugar – the trifecta of addictive food!
It’s true: you are what you eat!
In the long run, a diet comprising mainly highly processed junk food can increase your risk level for a plethora of diseases. Research indicates that fast food can have a particularly disastrous impact on heart health, leaving you at a far greater risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.
In addition, the high calorie content in fast food makes it one of the key culprits behind the obesity epidemic in the Western world. Since all that processed junk is hyper-palatable, it can decrease your body’s ability to discern when you are full. Lack of satiation, no matter how many calories you take in, just keeps you eating and eating – and that’s exactly what the fast food chains want you to do!
The high levels of calories, fat, salt, and sugar in fast food can fill up all of your caloric needs for a day with just one meal. That might sound crazy, but it’s not unheard of to find 2000-calorie entrees at fast food chains! However, all those calories give you a disappointingly tiny amount of nutrients – you aren’t getting all the vitamins and minerals that you need from fast food, just the calories.
While some franchises in the fast food world are waking up to the demand for more accommodating menus, the representation for special diets is lacking. If you’re vegan, gluten-free, keto, paleo, Whole30, or low-carb, it can be especially difficult to find a fast food menu item that fits in with your lifestyle.
Even if you can find fast food items that are marketed as compatible with your special diet, we recommend steering clear of them. While you may spot vegan or gluten-free items on a fast food menu, these meals are usually just as unhealthy and highly processed as their carnivore counterparts.
If you’re a parent, one of the best decisions you can ever decide on is making quitting fast food a family affair!
Your kids need nutrient-dense, whole, real food to grow and stay healthy and strong. That’s why skipping fast food as a whole family is a great choice. Instead, cook at home as often as possible, using recipes that focus on whole foods.
At JOW, we’re passionate about helping you and your family find healthy, convenient, delicious meals that you – and your kids – love! We’ve got tons of free recipes that are perfect for busy families, so there’s no need to head for the drive-thru!
Instead of going out for chicken nuggets and fries, try these simple and yummy recipes instead!
Pizza is a fast food staple, but if you’re tempted to order one, try this delicious recipe instead!
Topped with peas, Prosciutto, Mozzarella, and arugula, this pizza gives you and your family a big helping of veggies, along with plenty of protein! The recipe is super quick and convenient, and you can have it prepped, cooked, and ready to eat faster than you could go to the drive-thru for some processed junk food!
With just a 5-minute prep time and a 10-minute cook time, you won’t believe how fast this recipe can go from counter to oven to plate. Plus, it tastes absolutely amazing, and it’s perfect for any time of the year – especially spring!
Need a quick breakfast for you and your family? No need to go through the drive-thru! Instead, try this quick, healthy, and delicious recipe for baked eggs with salmon!
Boasting a super-fast prep and cook time, this recipe also includes just a few ingredients. It’s packed with protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, and even your kids are going to love it!
If you’ve never tried baked eggs, you’re in for a treat – and this recipe is the perfect place to start!
If you’re craving a burger, you don’t need to run for the nearest fast food chain to get your fix. Instead, you can make a quick, tasty brunch burger at home with this recipe from JOW!
The brunch burger takes just five minutes to prepare and cook, and its ingredients list calls for just six items. Whether you’re just feeding yourself or the whole family, this burger is bound to be a hit. Plus, even with some butter and ham, this recipe’s fat count is still much more moderate than what you’d find on a fast food menu.
Who doesn’t love a little pasta?
This ravioli recipe is insanely simple, and it’s great for you! Boasting a high protein count, an incredibly simple ingredient list – just ravioli, spinach, and hazelnuts – and an insanely short cook time, this is the perfect lunch or dinner staple for your whole family.
If you and your family follow a plant-based eating plan, we’ve got plenty of recipes that are perfect for you! JOW’s vegan menu is full of quick, simple, and healthy meals that you can get on the table in just a few minutes.
Need a quick vegan breakfast for you and your family? Try these yummy plant-based pancakes! They’ll take just 15 minutes to make, and they taste like heaven. Plus, they’re way healthier than any fast food breakfast you’ll find, all the while still tasting sweet, fluffy, and scrumptious.
Looking for a quick plant-based dinner? Give this recipe for smoked tofu and pan-fried green beans a try! It cooks up fast, and it’ll convince your kids to eat their veggies – and to give tofu a chance! Thanks to the added soy sauce, our pan-fried tofu has a pleasant, smoky flavor that will dispel any myths about this soy-based food being bland. Bland? As if.
Have you decided that fast food is a no-go for your household? If so, great choice. We’ve got tons of recipes for you to try over at JOW, so you’ll never run out of simple, creative, and healthy alternatives for drive-thru junk! Plus, we make shopping for these recipes nearly as easy as hitting a fast food joint, anyway—we’ll optimize your grocery cart, allow you to add anything else you may need, and even arrange for you to have your groceries delivered.
In the long run, avoiding fast food – on processed junk altogether – can make a big difference for your overall health. Plus, it’s a decision that can have a major impact not just on you, but your family as well!