The trouble with fast food

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Monday, 16 March 2009.
Tagged: eating out, fast food, fat, junk food, overweight, salt, take-away, weight loss

The trouble with fast food

I wish I had something kind to say about fast food. But no matter how I try, it's hard to spot the positives. Everything is high in fat, saturated fat, salt and kilojoules with very little in the way of fibre or vegetables. On its own, it doesn't make a balanced meal, even though it's often advertised as a ‘complete meal'.

Even when it's not deep fried, fast food still has ‘hidden' fats. Fat does many things in fast food. It keeps buns or pizza base soft and moist; it makes corn chips crisp; and it creates an aroma in anything served hot.

The sheer amount of fat and kilojoules you can take in is boggling. In our overweight sedentary world, no-one needs this level of intake. A standard burger from a chain will set you back 25 grams of fat (most of it saturated) and 2000 kilojoules. Upsize to a `quad stack' or `super' version and you'll get double or triple the kilojoules.

Portion size - super sizing

Sizes of serves have been getting bigger and cheaper. What used to be a standard serve of fries is now double that of years ago. Serve sizes of soft drink have soared from a normal 200ml glass to a whopping 900ml bucket today. And fast food outlets are masters at getting you to upsize your meals for a fraction more (‘bargain Tuesday and ‘two-for-one' meals deals). It represents value for money - but it's a bargain that our waistlines don't need.

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Fast food encourages over-eating

Think of HOW you eat:

  • You eat with your hands - not a fork and knife.
  • You eat while you walk or while you drive - not seated at a table.
  • You chow it down quickly - no leisurely dinners at take aways.

For anyone trying to lose weight, these are the wrong strategies and work counter to what you should be doing.


So how to stay lean with fast food?

  • Eat it only if there's nothing else.
  • If there's a choice, opt for the smaller size of whatever's for sale.
  • Don't buy anything named ‘super', ‘triple' or ‘whopper'.
  • Share large portions or fries with a friend. Or eat half now, half later.

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Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.