If you’re addicted to fast food, you already know you have the worst diet. Are you sick of it? Do you want to change? It’s not too late! Dr. Michelle Gilon and other nutrition experts have all the details…
A diet based on fast food will contain massive amounts of fat, sugar, and other unhealthy ingredients. In a single meal containing a cheeseburger, medium french fries, and a soft drink, for example, the amount of fat equals more than half of what is recommended in a single day for the average person, and nearly all the carbohydrates are either simple sugars or cause the body’s sugar level to spike. What does that mean? That in time, it can become highly toxic to your liver and other organs – AND highly addictive.
A meal like that can be very hard on your system, in numerous ways.
If you’ve watched the film “Super Size Me,” you might remember that at some point the doctor tells Morgan Spurlock (the director and guinea pig) that his liver is turning into “paté”.
This happened after he decided to check what happens if he only ate fast food for a month. He also gained 11 kg (25 lbs), suffered from mood swings, depression, fatigue, headaches, problems in sexual performance, and cardiac arrhythmia. After just one month.
Morgan Spurlock’s liver isn’t one of a kind – research studies show that eating large amounts of fast food, or being on a diet based on large amounts of sugar and fat, can cause massive liver damage.
In a Swedish study conducted in 6 women and 12 men, healthy and thin with average age 26 years, participants ate fast food at least twice a day for a month, and their physical activity was limited in order to imitate a sedentary lifestyle. The goal was for them to double their food intake and increase their body weight 10% . Indeed, they succeeded in adding approximately 7kg (15 lbs) to their weight. In addition, their liver enzymes spiked already during the first week of the study, reflecting a main indicator for liver damage.
A fatty liver is a well-known phenomenon, common mostly to adults with a history of alcohol abuse or hepatitis, and can progress to liver cirrhosis.
In recent years, with the obesity epidemic increasing, there has been an increase in cases of a fatty liver not caused by alcohol consumption. This illness is called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD. The implications on health of this illness are no less serious than alcoholic liver disease, and most people don’t even know they have it.
Even more disturbing is the fact that this illness isn’t found only in adults, but is also occurring in children with a history of weight problems, lack of exercise, and unhealthy diet, mostly characterized by consuming large amounts of fat and sugar – especially from high-fructose corn syrup, the most common sweetener in soft drinks.
The good news is that you can do something to reverse the damage. Here’s what we recommend:
1. Set some goals
Realized you’re addicted to fast food? You can go for a steady, gradual rehab, or go cold turkey all at once, depending on what works best for you. Set realistic goals, considering your ability to succeed. If gradual is your method, then try this: each time you go for fast food, think, “how can I make this just a little bit better?” Over time, the small changes will add up. Combine this with cutting back on the number of times per week then per month then per year that you eat fast food, and you’ve made it!
2. Limit the quantity
It’s important to emphasize that while consuming small amounts of fast food once in a while is not cause for concern, large quantities are what make the difference. Therefore, it’s recommended to limit the amount of fast food meals (i.e. to once a week, once in every two weeks, according to your personal ability), and treat them as the exception, and not as ordinary events. Set goals with regard to downsizing the individual quantities of food, in addition to the frequency of consumption.
3. Choose wisely
If you’re already in a fast food restaurant/food court, try choosing the better option offered. For example: a salad with just a bit of dressing and chicken breast or grilled chicken, or the regular hamburger without the mayonnaise and french fries. Some establishments even have vegetarian options. And of course, it’s better to drink water instead of sweetened soft drinks, especially the diet versions.
4. Focus on healthy nourishment
It goes without saying that it’s better to eat a variety of healthy foods and gradually acquire better eating habits than to use fast food as a main stay in your life. Changing your view of fast food to that of an exception to your rule will come in time as healthy foods cleanse your system and you gradually break the cycle of “addiction”.
Aerobic exercise “burns” fat efficiently, and can be a priceless weapon against the excess fat accumulated in your body – and ultimately in your liver. It balances the sugar spikes, and generates hormones that can neutralize your fast food addiction. But do it wisely! Work up to one-half to one hour per day gradually without over-stressing yourself, and above all, breathe!
6. Get physical (examinations)
Ask your doctor for a blood test that includes liver enzyme levels that mark the liver’s health. This is very important for people who have or have had a fast food based diet, and who also don’t exercise. It will give you a sense of where you stand, so you can track your improvement as you execute stages 1-4 above.
In short, if you’re sick of greasy, salty, sugary food and how bad it makes you feel, if you feel that you’ve donated enough money to the fast food chains, we have good news! Your liver and health damage can still be reversed if you change your diet and exercise more. Even if you have the worst diet, it’s never too late to change.
7. Enlist some help
If you’re struggling to break years of bad habits, you should know that you’re not alone. There are plenty of Trim Down Club members who know just what you’re going through. You’ll find them on our Trim Down Club community forums, happy to support you and help you out. Our dietitian is also there to answer all of your questions.
We wish you luck!