The week-end arrives; you heave a sigh of relief as you now have a couple of days relaxation before you face the pressures of work again. Or do you? Saturday morning – you make the family a cup of coffee to start the day, then it is off out to get the shopping done. You get back late in the morning and realise that you have to get the kids to their swimming club or drop them off at their music instructors place. Too late for a decent lunch, by the time they are organised it will be time to go. So you stop and all have a burger on the way. The traffic is a nightmare, by the time you get in and put your feet up, you find it is time to collect the kids. You are so tired now with all of the rushing about that you really can’t be bothered with preparing a meal so you pick up a family chicken meal from a well-known fast food outlet. Sunday arrives, great, a bit of space, time to prepare a big cooked breakfast. By midday, things are getting tense again so you go for the pizza with some low-fat chips and some salad …
Sounds familiar? Well let’s have a look at the score. Firstly, what is a good diet? Basically, one which contains the nutrients that your body needs, in the correct amounts. The latter is the key to a healthy lifestyle. The main things your body needs from food are proteins (for growth and repair), carbohydrates (for energy), fats (gives a store of energy and the fatty layer protects and insulates yoiur body from impacts and temperature loss), vitamins (for good health), minerals (for the correct functioning of your body systems) fibre (aids digestion and production of faeces) and water (70% or so of the body is water).
So let’s have a look at a burger meal. Does it supply the nutrients you need? The answer is yes. The burger itself contains some meat, so there is the protein, some minerals and fat, the burger also contains fillers and those, plus the burger bun provides carbohydrate. The salad that comes with the burger meal provides fibre, water, vitamins and minerals. The fries provide more fat and carbohydrate and the main bulk of the water comes from the drink. There you have it, burger meals give you all you need!
The problems lie with the quantities of these nutrients. There is inevitably too much fat and carbohydrate compared with the other nutrients. And there is way too little fibre. The vitamin and mineral proportions are very low, unless you have a shake with the meal, which will increase the proportion of dairy product based minerals such as calcium. To get out of that one, you need to make sure that your next meal makes up for this out of balance meal. For your evening meal therefore, you should eat a low fat, high fibre meal, plenty of veg, cooked lightly or eaten raw so as not to destroy the vitamins. If you must eat between meals, snack on fruit or veg.
A further problem is the use of additives. For instance the addition of salt improves the flavour of food so naturally manufacturers put it in. As a result, eating processed food increases your salt levels – increases blood pressure and leads to heart problems for one thing. A little salt is necessary; it provides your body with the mineral sodium, needed in small quantities. Preservatives are another issue here, allegedly there in small enough quantities not to be harmful, what happens if you eat processed food all the time? Worth thinking about.
Antioxidants are important too. They help to prevent damage to the cells of your body, damage that can lead to cells becoming cancerous. Teas are a very good source of antioxidants. Ordinary (black) tea provides some but a lot of the beneficial constituents are lost during the fermentation process. Unprocessed, pure organic teas like Green Tea or Oolong (the latter is only partly fermented) are the best. Therefore, instead of coffee in the morning, try tea, it is more beneficial. Tea also contains the caffeine, but not as much as in coffee. You might have to drink more but think of the extra benefits to your health. Also, Green tea is thought to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol. The high levels of animal fats in burgers inevitably mean more cholesterol so there is another good reason for switching from coffee.
I hope that you can now see that simple changes to your diet can make your hectic lifestyle more healthy. And don’t feel too bad about the odd burger or other fast food, just learn to compensate.
All the tea in China? Not quite but we do have a good selection of Green tea, Puerh tea and other Chinese teas!