Alarming Side Effects Of Junk Food On Your Healthy Family

In today’s world, food lovers everywhere have a love-hate relationship with processed foods. Although there are kinds of processed foods that are not bad for you, there are some that can be pretty damn harmful to your health. Let us have a chat about, what are processed foods? And what side effects of junk food might occur in your healthy family?

What Are Processed Foods?

Processed foods have been changed from their natural whole food state, slapped in a plastic, foil, or cardboard wrapper, and placed conveniently at eye level in your local grocery store. These packaged food items contain ingredients such as artificial colors, flavors, and chemical additives. They are often referred to as pre-prepared food or convenience foods, which over the last couple of decades we have all reached for, due to the lack of time in busy lives. It is only really recently that these foods have been in the spotlight due to a direct correlation between these processed foods, obesity, and chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart diseases. 

Due to their altered nature, these foods have a deteriorated nutritional value compared to their freshly harvested counterparts. There are various methods and types of food processing, in which there are many debates over whether all these food processing methods are bad for your health….Spoiler alert! In my opinion, they all are pretty bad for you :/

Processed food, also known as junk food (you don’t get a name like junk food if you are healthy lol) is less nutritious and can cause harm to you. Let’s see how?

Alarming Side Effects of Junk Food

Side Effects of Junk Food #1 – High risk of Obesity

Well, one of the major disadvantages of junk food is the increased risk of obesity. Junk food is mostly loaded with sugar, saturated fat, and chemical additives which are well known to massively increase your bad cholesterol. This can easily add extra weight to your waist and a long track record of obesity-induced diseases.

side effects of junk food

Holding extra weight can also lead to the slowing down of the body after some time. Walking up those stairs each day makes you start to feel the side effects of junk food that might include breathing problems, chest pains/ heart issues, constipation, and unnatural stress on all parts of your body. 

When you or your family eats junk food, it may also mess with their normal appetite, fill your stomach and make you feel on top of the world at times, but then hungry, moody, and just a little bit shitty soon after. Most commonly it’s rich in fat and carbohydrates and can have a long-lasting negative impact on your system. So, this one, obesity, is a pretty big reason (no pun intended) why you must avoid processed foods the majority of the time.

Side Effects of Junk Food #2 – Causes learning and memory problems

According to a study that was published in the American Journal of clinical nutrition, people from a healthy family who ate junk food for the last 5 days performed very poorly in the cognitive tests. These cognitive tests were used to measure mood, speed, and attention. 

The tests concluded that when you have eaten junk food for the last 5 days, it can deteriorate your memory. This means that the toxic nature of these foods can cause chemical reactions in the brain and increase inflammation in the area that is associated with special recognition and memories. 

Diets that are high in fat and sugar can suppress the activity of the brain that is known as the BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF helps in learning and the formation of memory. 

Side Effects of Junk Food #3 – Chemical changes that can lead to frustration and fatigue

side effects of processed food

It has been proven that consuming foods that are high in sugar and fat can easily change the chemical activity in the body that makes it more dependent on specific foods, like sugar. When a person stops eating junk food, withdrawal symptoms start to kick in quite rapidly. These symptoms can lead to the inability to deal with the stress and are going to make you feel flat and fatigued. With time, you will be able to overcome this when your body re-adjusts to real food and in turn, you will be back in control of your emotions.

When you consume lots of junk food you are going to lose various nutrients such as amino acids. When there is a lack of amino acids, there is a higher chance that depressive feelings are worsened. 

Side Effects of Junk Food #4 – Uncontrollable cravings

When you have a doughnut or a cupcake, this will spike your blood sugar levels. This is going to make you feel happy as well as satisfied…for a little while. But we all know that good feeling starts to fade pretty quickly, making you tired, more irritable, or reaching for another sweet, salty or oily junk food treat. C’mon, I know you know that feeling. It’s around 3 pm in the afternoon, you have had a nice big dirty lunch a few hours earlier, you are lethargic, a bit impatient and you are supposed to have that report finished at work, but you are struggling to stay focused. I like to call this the ‘Junk Funk’. 

The ‘Junk Funk’ is triggered by the cocktail of artificial flavors, preservatives, and high levels of the super addictive sugar, salt or fat.  Now, when dealing with the ‘Junk Funk’, most people just end up craving more of the addictive ingredients to get you through another 45 minutes of semi-happiness. But you know what happens next when dinner rolls around? “Awww I am exhausted after a big day, and I don’t feel like salad tonight. You know what, I will treat myself to a nice supersized meal from Burger King! Yeh, I have earnt it”. No, I am not a mind reader, research and my own experience tells me that we can start to justify our cravings to ourselves. Which all starts from the chemical imbalance in the body and brain – crazy crazy mind control stuff here!

The 80 : 20 Rule

Some people may ask, does junk food affect kids? Well, there has been a recent study that shows that children eating fast food three to fours times a week are more likely to have severe asthma episodes than children who eat a more balanced diet. Just one of many reasons why processed or junk food must be restricted for children. 

Processed foods might cause damage to the body that is irreversible, so they must be avoided most of the time…

We try to stick to the 80 : 20 rule, 80% of the time we eat whole foods and 20% of the time we can treat ourselves with something processed. For a normal family who eats 5 times a day (including snacks), 7 days a week, this looks like 28 whole food meals/snacks and 7 treats per week. Portion size is key here. The 7 treats per week are not a whole box of cereal, a double quarter pounder meal or anything that will cause you to have a ‘Junk Funk’. The portions might be the recommended serving size of cereal, maybe 1 cup. A small fries or a single doughnut. Moderation is the key here, and trust me, future you will thank you for having the willpower today!

Side Effects Of fast Food

In summary, there are many side effects of junk food on your healthy family, which come in many forms, health, learning, performance, mood, or focus related. It’s unrealistic to avoid these completely, so just be mindful of these side effects and moderate your family’s intake as much as possible (the 80 : 20 rule). Make your family aware of the side effects, how it will make them feel, how it might impact how they perform at soccer this afternoon, how it might restrict them from doing the things they love.

For some whole food alternatives which still tick all the cravings boxes, check out these easy dinner recipes or quick snack ideas 🙂