The evolution of humans through the ages has been very intriguing and interesting. Yet, that can be summed up into a single sentence. Whatever humans do, it is to feed, either their stomach or their curiosity. While feeding their curiosity led to this ultra-modern world that we live in today, feeding the stomach has been the motto for survival for all the living species. Be it the early men hunting animals, and cooking them on stone-lit fire or the modern men eating with proper cutlery and platter in multicuisine restaurants, to live, one must feed. There is no other alternative. In recent years people have started consuming more processed food than ever before.
With the progression of the human race into the time space, people started including culture into food and as a result, we, today have a whole spectrum of meals for each ethnicity to represent. Just in India, we have diverse regional cuisines that change as you cross the border of each state. Despite having such a rich savour of meals, today, we highly depend on processed and packaged food. There’s no one to blame for this as we have got very little time for food on a daily basis with a hectic work schedule and a minimal work-life balance.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH PROCESSED FOOD?
Any food that has been transformed in the process of preparation to make it edible is a processed food. Most of the foods we take in, need some level of processing. Also, not all processed foods are unhealthy. But we can’t ignore the fact that we got addicted to them at some point. Most of us even have a ramen or noodles packet on our kitchen shelves as a savior in case we get hungry. Their level of convenience to prepare, considering how less time we have got to prepare a meal , is what makes them attractive and makes us buy them. This convenience can cost us our health, lifespan and immunity in severe cases.
Chemically or ultra-processed foods have high amounts of sugars, fats, oils, artificial ingredients, refined carbohydrates and much more. These usually lead to obesity, diabetes and many other long term illnesses, if it is consumed in large amounts. Unfortunately, in the recent decades, the consumption of these ultra-processed foods has increased by a high margin. Today, these foods account for 25 – 60% of daily energy intake of an average person.
WHAT TO AVOID?
There are a variety of fast foods and processed foods that we intake on a daily basis. Some of them are not so bad while others are to be avoided at any cost. So, these are a few foods we look up to on any regular day that should be consumed less than we normally do, for a healthier life.
Who doesn’t love a good biryani with a medium-large soft drink? In fact, some people also believe that the gas present in soft drinks helps digest the food better. On a hot summer day, after an afternoon under the bright sun, you will most likely crave a glass of soft drink. But these sweetened beverages have more calories than we realize and taking them on a regular basis can lead to obesity, metabolic syndrome, type2 diabetes and other inflammatory diseases.
So, should you give up on your love for them? Well, you can always have carbonated water, popularly known as SODA as a replacement that has much fewer calories.
Every student during the exam times knows the struggle. Hostel students, working professionals, moms when their kids need a quick snack often rely on these instant noodles or ramen that are so easy to make and absolutely delicious to taste. However, the high amounts of salts in the package gives a blood pressure boost. The artificial flavourings and carbohydrate makeup gives no nutritional value, instead of inducing diseases into the body.
Once in a while, it’s okay to eat them within the limits, but for a healthier alternative, you can always try Zucchini noodles or traditional semiya.
On a nice rainy evening, a hot plate of pakoras and chai just set the mood in a typical household. In food chains like KFC or McD, there’s no typical order without a packet of fries or a patted burger. However delicious they might taste; you cannot overlook the number of calories they induce. High fats and oils not only increase the cholesterol content, but also makes you unhealthy by altering your BMI. So, instead of frying them deep in oil, you can bake them, which greatly reduces the amount of oil consumption.
Impact of processed foods on women’s health
Processed foods are in general harmful for human health. In women, especially, these effects are even higher. Women are prone to certain diseases like PCOD, PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Disease /Syndrome) etcProcessed foods have a high Glycemic Index (GI) which is directly in proportion with insulin production and diabetes. Having high quantities of processed foods can decrease the natural metabolism of the body and worsen the condition of PCOS. Also, a recent study shows that just a 10% increase in the consumption of processed foods can increase the potential risk of cancer by 12%.
Consumption of sweetened beverages at a higher rate can lower the fertility rate in both men and women. In addition to that, studies have shown that women who consume high amounts of processed food take longer to get pregnant when compared with women on a regular diet.
Therefore, women have to be more precautious about their diet in comparison with men, especially in the reference to consuming processed foods.
As Michael Pollan says, “Came from a plant, eat it; was made in a plant, don’t;”.
It is not about completely restricting yourself from certain food choices and not letting you enjoy the flavours. It’s all about eating right. The right quantity of food at the right time is all you need to have. In addition to dietary changes, a properly planned workout schedule, adequate amounts of sleep add to make your lifestyle a bit healthier.
Women have been feeding people from the time they enter the world through breastfeeding, as homemakers, mothers, and wives. Now, it is time to check up on their own health, eat right and make food right.
This is how you can contribute:
So, knowing all this, we experience a will to do something about this. Here’s what you can do on your part.
Change starts with you. Try to decrease the consumption of processed foods gradually. Each time you crave them, just think of all those health risks you are subjecting yourselves to. Try explaining this to your family first, especially to kids and teens.
Whenever you hang out with your friends or family., try to bring this topic to the table. Know their views on this and create an awareness regarding the adverse impacts of processed foods. Understand that we have grown up eating these foods and it is harder than you think to quit them. But, don’t forget that a small step is all you need to begin a journey.
Try and put your culinary skills to use to get creative about the healthier alternatives for the junk we put into our tummies. Practice inclining towards satisfactory nutritious meals.
Other than these, we can try to train ourselves to physically and mentally fit through a variety of practices like Yoga, exercising, swimming, meditation etc., This International Youth Day 2021, let us owe our parents, friends, families and ourselves a much healthier lifestyle with minute changes in what we eat.
About The Author
Padmasahiti identifies herself like other Indian girls, trying new things and exploring life. She loves reading. Being an introvert, she lets her writings speak for herself. Being a Limitless Stree member, she could come out of her comfort zone and navigate her skills. Through this blog, she aims to inspire women to never give up and help and encourage each other.
Padmasahithi Kondeti Limitless Stree Member