Convenience Food and Health

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By: Carlos Viana, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist (USA)

Most convenience stores are filled with convenience (processed packaged) and/or junk foods. The dictionary defines “junk food” as “food that is unhealthy but is quick and easy to eat” and “food that is not good for your health because it is high in fat, sugar, or artificial substances.”

Difficult to miss, fast food restaurants with big marketing budgets, selling meals at cheap prices are everywhere. Junk food is placed at check-out counters in all kinds of shops to entice impulse buying to those, hungry, tired or stressed. Occasionally even I, will snack on some convenience or junk food. The desire and need for women to work along with government “guidelines” in the 80’s & 90’s came with a message that time-consuming preparation of fresh meals is a thing of the past and convenience food was modern solution. Governments all over the world have been allowing the food manufacturing industry to cheat us, promoting a diet based mostly on carbohydrates. Processed grains need little to no refrigeration, have a long shelf life and do not spoil like fresh, whole, natural foods. They also make huge profits for big companies.

Complex carbohydrates are whole and nutritionally complete like brown rice, sweet potato, beans and others. Simple carbohydrates include highly processed grains and starchy vegetables made into bread, rice, crackers, cereals and snack foods which have no nutritional value. In fact, these lab-altered, insecticide filled, chemically processed foods can have a negative effect on health. Junk food, high processed food diets are linked to digestive issues, higher risk of obesity, depression, heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and early death.

It is not just sugar, processed grains, spike your body’s insulin. Spiking insulin causes sugar to enter your cells too quickly. So, while eating these, your body’s response is to continue to feel hungry. You never feel full or satisfied. You end up craving more “fast” food. This ‘trick’ is used by the industry, offering a drink refill “free”. The artificial sugar in the counter drink, spikes your insulin, so you go back to order more food. Natural, unprocessed food releases its sugar slowly, allowing your expanded stomach to produce cholecystokinin (CCK), the first discovered hormone that makes you feel satisfied.

When shopping for food, stay close to outer walls. This is where the coolers are usually placed for “healthier” fresh produce, meats, fish, and frozen frozen food. The aisles in the middle have cans, snacks, candy and processed, ready to eat “pre-cooked” packages full of added sugar, grain, salts and artificial ingredients. You know, “quick and easy” convenience food. Another food propaganda, in the 1960s, the United States sugar industry funded research that downplayed the risks of sugar and highlighted the hazards of fat, an industry group called the Sugar Research Foundation wanted to “refute” concerns about sugar’s possible role in heart disease, and instead, put the blame on fat. People stopped eating fat because they were told it made them fat or the foods would raise their cholesterol. The “fat free” diet hurt the health of people because in “low fat” foods, the fat was replaced by sugar. Lies that greatly contribute to the obesity epidemic.

Board certified in Nutrition; I never recommend fat-free diets. Foods high in natural fats are good for you. I eat eggs, salt-free butter, olive oil and avocadoes, all sources of good cholesterol. Your brain is 80% fat! What you do not want to do is fry your food. When you fry oil, the high temperatures change the healthy fat into a ‘bad’ fat. What is real or the truth? You can stay on a low carbohydrate diet for the rest of your long life, eating protein, vegetables, a little fruit and good fat. You do not need any carbohydrates! Carbohydrates, especially with type O blood, the most common blood type, is the foundation of type 2 diabetes. The essential foods, those that you need to survive and stay healthy are: essential amino acids (from protein like beans, legumes, meat, poultry and fish), essential fatty acids (omega 9 from animal fat, omega 6 from vegetable fat, and omega 3 from fish fat – *flax is a vegan option for 6 and 3), vitamins and minerals also from fruits and vegetables. There are no “essential carbohydrates”. Meats, fish, vegetables, and fruits contain a small amount of carbohydrates. Be sure to eat a very varied diet. Try keeping nuts, seeds and boiled eggs available for “convenient” healthy-fat, snacks.

Get the Point! You may be looking for convenience as we return to our busy lives. We occasionally buy a cooked meal to bring home, choosing the best possible ingredients but also convenience, and yes, once-in-a-while, I have and ice-cream (real sugar, no high-fructose corn-syrup) or a grilled cheese sandwich (though we prefer sprouted grain or homemade bread) But, how often you ‘cheat’ matters when it comes to the impact of junk food on your health. A healthy body metabolizes everything it needs. If you are eating “healthy” and still having digestive issues, or just need some guidance, come in for some nutritional counseling. We can help you make eating healthy convenient.

CARLOS VIANA, Ph. D. is an Oriental Medical Doctor (O.M.D.) having studied in China; a US Board Cert. Clinical Nutritionist (C.C.N.), an Addiction Professional (C.Ad.), Chairperson of the Latin American Committee of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), a Rejuvenating Cell Therapist specializing in Age Management, has a weekly radio program, writes and lectures extensively. For information: VIANA HEALING CENTER, Kibaima 7, St Cruz TEL: 585-1270 Web Site:

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