The fast-spreading ‘fast food culture’ has virtually replaced the practice of taking proportionate food thrice a day among the teenagers. Whenever they are hungry, they resort to fried items or the processed and baked food without the knowledge of the side-effects that they are sure to cause. In general, it must be understood that the teenage is the growing phase with rapid growth of hormonal glands and all organs of the body simultaneously. Corresponding to the pace of growth, it is essential to take the right food at the right time so that the growth would be steady and uniform. Cigarette smoking and consuming alcohol are alone not bad enough to cause problems. Failure and negligence to take timely and good food are also equally responsible for causing adverse effects. It will lead to many diseases like heart problem, obesity, indigestion and other life-threatening diseases later.
Teenagers are simply misled by the different types of food that they take and believe that they are healthy. Most of them contain lot of sugar, sodium and saturated fat which are highly harmful and likely to cause high blood pressure, diabetics and cardiac problems. In this foregoing account, let us see the unhealthy foods that the youth ought to avoid at any cost:-
French Fries are made out of potatoes, the outer skin of which is first fully peeled off, thereby losing the benefit of fibre content in that. Secondly, when the oil is heated for a longer duration, the oil loses its good qualities. Thirdly, when the same oil is being re-heated and used again and again, its ill-effects multiply several times. Fourthly, when the French Fries thus prepared are eaten in excess, they automatically increase bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol and ultimately, they increase the chance of heart ailments by creating blocks in the blood vessels.
The general nutrients are very less in white bread. Alternatively, it contains refined sugar which is harmful to our health. Moreover, as the white bread is prepared with the base of maida flour it would not only lead to indigestion but also would give room for attack of cancer.
Strictly speaking, these cool drinks hardly contain anything that is good for one’s health. However, it is a fashion for teen agers to rush for cool drinks. These cool drinks consist of artificial preservatives and excessive sugar that literally harm our teeth and digestive system.
In practice, soups that are prepared at home and taken are good for health. At the same time, the tinned soups are not beneficial in any manner. Much of sodium is added in the tinned soups. For instance, one can chicken soup contains more sodium than what we are supposed to consume in a day. On the health front, this will result in high blood pressure. It is always wise to avoid soups that are available in street shops.
Parotahs are mainly made from maida flour which is nothing but the residue of wheat flour. To change the colour of maida to white, more of adverse chemical agents are added. Particularly, the benzoyl peroxide and alloxen present in this cause grave harm to our health. It will certainly increase the blood glucose level and cause digestive disorders.
Native snacks & bakery products:-
While the native snacks, small bites and bakery products easily attract the teen agers, it must be realized that they neither contain any nutritional value nor fibre. Hence it will not promote our health in any aspect. On the other hand, they are responsible for indigestion and stomach disorders. Moreover, when they directly reduce the appetite, the desire for normal and healthy food will take a beating.
Dairy products with high fat content:-
In general milk products contain more calcium which is good for our bones. At the same time, we must note that products such as butter, milk with fat content, ice cream and cheese contain lot of saturated fats which will cause heart problems. It would be better for teen agers to avoid these products as well.
How to avoid these harmful foods?:-
Easier said than done! Is it so? No. It is possible. Where there is a will there is a way. If we realise that health is more important we will be able to follow these good habits. The following steps will enable one to give up the above-mentioned harmful items:-
Balanced diet – it must be put in practice
Breakfast must be made compulsory
Timely intake of food will demotivate one from going for snacks
In the evening, one can take sprouted items and sundal varieties that are healthy
Between two meals, one can take natural drinks like fruit juice, tender coconut, butter milk etc. so that the craving for snacks and cool drinks will reduce
Noodles, popcorn, cola drinks, French fries, chips etc. can best be replaced by Pori balls, groundnut, groundnut cakes, sesame cake etc. In addition to this, fruits and nuts like dates, grapes, bananas, fruit salad, badam and cashew nuts can be liberally eaten.
The natural foods contain all vital nutrients and vitamins that it is not only for the teen agers but also for all age groups to consider accepting this change for the better.
(This article originally written in Tamil by G Lakshmanan has been reproduced in English by P S Ramamurthy)