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Relying on packaged foods during the pandemic is the worst mistake I’ve ever made. Here’s why

Packaged foods can save you a lot of time and effort in the kitchen, but it really doesn’t spare your health, trust me.
Junk food
I am never touching a packet of chips, ever again! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Sonakshi Kohli Updated: 13 Oct 2023, 17:07 pm IST
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The amount of damage the covid-19 has already done is far beyond words. However, on a personal level, the resulting lockdown and the fear of letting my domestic help enter the house every day did put a lot of pressure on me in terms of carrying out household chores.

So, I tried to make up for the energy expended on cleaning and keeping the house together by skipping cooking at least once a day. But my hungry stomach wouldn’t succumb and the lazy ass wouldn’t want to get down to cooking either. The result? From instant pastas to chips to quick-fix nuggets to even ready-to-eat dals, everything that promised lesser or no cooking time made its way into my life.

Three months into these time-saving wonders and I started regretting being lazy because of these changes the consumption of packaged foods brought in my body:

1. I was addicted in no time
Every time I’d reach for a packet of chips or simply a packet of instant pasta, I’d tell myself that it was the “last time” I was indulging in them. Every time I’d eat one
cookie, I’d tell myself that it was the first and the “last” one only to grab another one within seconds. But after a countless number of “last times”, I realised, what they said in advertisements was true and deep: “No one can eat just one”. And nope, this wasn’t just a baseless assumption.

Junk food
I got addicted to junk in no time. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

According to a study conducted at The University of Michigan and Mount Sinai Hospital, processed foods are just as addictive as hard drugs! This is because the high content of sugar, fat, and salt present in them trigger the same reward and pleasure centers of the brain as addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin do. These foods also release feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine, thus, always leaving you asking for more.

The good part however is that unlike drug addiction, food addiction isn’t as hard to beat and one can overcome it with a little bit of awareness and self-control.

2. I obviously gained weight
The addiction factor makes you overeat and consume more calories, obviously leading to weight gain. According to a study published in the journal Cell
Metabolism, packaged foods are usually made of refined ingredients and thus take less time to get digested, which means you tend to burn fewer calories in their digestion. Not to mention, the excess fat and carbohydrates can contribute further to weight gain.

Junk food
The excess fat and carbohydrates can contribute further to weight gain.. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. And I felt bloated ALL THE TIME
Blame it on the presence of excess of salt in packaged junk that can cause water
retention or simply the preservatives doing the deed, bloating almost became a part of life along with the consumption of packaged foods.

4. Even my bronchitis got aggravated
You would like to believe that food shouldn’t cause an issue with your respiratory
system but packaged food surely does. At least in my case it did. My breathing
problem reached an all-time high as did my packaged-food consumption. But, I
understood that it was the presence of artificial preservatives such as nitrites,
benzoates, sulfites, sorbates, and several others that was causing the problem after I came across a study published in The International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research pointing it out.

5. I was ALWAYS fatigued and cranky
We all know that packaged foods (except chicken and meat) are usually rich in
carbohydrates. So feeling exhausted and cranky despite consuming high carbs came as a shock to me. But it was after some research on the Internet that I found out that preservatives, additives, sodium, trans fat, and artificial ingredients present in packaged foods tend to slow you down.

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Junk food
All the junk can make you lazy and cranky. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

6. I got itchy patches on my face
Within a month of consuming packaged fast food at least once a day, I started
noticing the appearance of dry, itchy patches on my skin, which also started flaking off. This was probably the most severe consequence that doubled up as the eye-opener for me.

Now, you might be unaware of the fact that junk-eating is associated not just with acne, but also with skin problems such as eczema (irritated patches of inflamed, itchy skin) as well as early appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, or so, says a study published in BMJ Journals.

Junk food
If eat, eat junk food after starving is becoming your eriod mantra– then it’s time to stop! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

This, you could say, was the ultimate tipping point that brought me back to my senses and made sure that I was back to my normal pattern of eating clean and healthy.

It took me a while to undo the damage that packaged food consumption caused, but I was able to get past it. If you too have been facing these problems and are unable to figure out the cause, do analyse your junk and processed food consumption and you might get the answer you’re looking for.

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About the Author

Twenty kilos down and struggling to maintain the weight loss by preaching healthy eating, while eating unhealthy every now and then. ...Read More

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