Dr. Asangba Tzudir
The growing number of fast food outlets especially in the commercial hub of Nagaland has added to the metropolitan tinge besides food entertainment though not necessarily to satisfy hunger. There was a time when eating KFC, burgers, pizzas or soft drinks and other junk food was not known or even the culture of eating beyond a breakfast and two proper home cooked meals.
The very concept of ‘eating’ has taken different dimensions and today, our eating culture has seen a drastic shift from the ‘local’ to the ‘global’ and has brought about a change in our culture, identity and lifestyle. More so, we don’t know how much we need to eat, often eating when one is not hungry. Many people wonder whether they eat too much or too less. It is hard to know the right amount that needs to be taken to satisfy the requirements of the body.
The US Food and Drug Administration provides that information and requires every packaged food to print the recommended amount of each nutrient that comes in every food serving. The values are based on an average person maintaining ideal weight, burning 2000 calories a day.
With the invasion of fast food/junk food especially among children and with hardly any physical activity, obesity has become a common phenomenon. And with the coming of more fast food outlets besides junk food, it is important to be reminded of the various health concerns that cannot be taken with a casual approach. Our food habits have a close association with culture and lifestyle rather than on nutrient value and health concerns.
Not only fast food and junk food but even our home cooked food can be unhealthy. High levels of fats and sugar are not only unhealthy but addictive making it hard for people to choose the more healthy food. It sets an unhealthy eating pattern especially among children who develop a liking for fast food/junk food. Fast foods are laden with growth hormones, chemically enhanced vegetables; sugar filled soft drinks whose colour and taste are artificially enhanced.
Some scientists believe that gorging on food that is excessively high on fat and sugar can cause changes to your brain and body making it hard to avoid the habitual fast food. And with the great hormones that play a role in regulating appetite it is bound to get more addictive making one’s appetite rejuvenate at the thought of fast food even when one may not be hungry.
The difference between fast food and home cooked meal is the sheer quantity of calories and fats it delivers in one go. And the recommended daily intake of fats and calories can be had in one sitting at a fast food outlet. It may contribute little or no nutrient value but instead gives excess calories, sugar and fat and thereby not a proper way for a balanced and healthy nutrition. The resultant effect is, slowly and with age, one becomes a health-issues customer.
The ill effects of fast food are myriad. Over a period of time, fast food can lead to an increased risk of illness and various lifestyle associated disease. Studies have also suggested that a rich fat meal can increase ones stress level. Then there are more risky disease related to heart, blood vessels, liver, diabetes, peptic ulcers and many more.
A daily dose of fast food means the need for a well-balanced diet cannot be supplemented by an unhealthy diet that lacks essential nutrients. After all a finger licking treat may do more harm to one’s health while in the pursuit of various forms of pleasure and entertainment, and will end being a health-issues customer.
(Dr. Asangba Tzudir contributes a weekly guest editorial to The Morung Express. Comments can be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org)