Junk food - the risks - Women's Health & Fitness

The damage
According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, the average Australian adult’s diet is made up of 35 per cent junk food.

“Eating a diet high in fats and sugars will not only have an effect on your waistline, but also your health,” says accredited practising dietitian Melanie McGrice (nutritionplus.com.au). You’ll experience heart issues, raised cholesterol, bad skin and a risk of diabetes and cancers.

The risks
While you can get away with a less-healthy diet in your 20s, by the time you’ve hit your 30s and beyond, your diet will affect your health on a day-to-day basis. “Long term, the risks of ill-health increase with every extra kilo you gain and the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet,” she says.

The cut-off
As soon as possible. A study at Bristol University, UK, found that children who eat more chips, crisps, biscuits and pizza before the age of three have a lower IQ five years later. The scary news? Even if the child’s diet improved, it could be too late, as the ill-effects may remain throughout their lives.

The recovery
Changing your diet doesn’t mean you have to eat like a rabbit. Ensure that the majority of your diet is made up of lean protein, fresh fruit, vegetables, low fat dairy and wholegrains. Within a week, you’ll feel a difference. “Choose filling snacks like nuts, low fat smoothies and wholegrain crackers topped with fresh tomato,” says McGrice.

The short-term perks
You’ll feel more energetic, sleep better, lose weight and your skin will appear smoother ,too. “Clients often remark on the benefits they feel after changing their diet,” McGrice says. “You really don’t have to spend money on a ‘detox program’ or pills – just including some fruit and vegetables in your diet each day for a week can make the world of difference.”

The long-term perks
Cutting down on fats, sugars and processed ingredients means that, long term, you’ll be less likely to be overweight and avoid health issues associated with this, such as cancers, diabetes and heart disease.

Side effects of quitting
Eliminating fast food can be as difficult as giving up smoking, as your brain becomes addicted to the ingredients in the food. A study at Scripps Research Institute in Florida found that junk food can be addictive, even when the person eating it knows it is bad for them.

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