Let’s face it, many of us love a good cheeseburger now and again. I’m not talking about a cheeseburger from McDonalds, that thing barely passes for what we recognise as food. It is not so dissimilar to what the scientist who created Frankenstein conjured up in his lab. Poor quality stuff folks.
No, Not McDonalds. I’m talking about a burger where the meat was thoughtfully reared so that our bovine friend had a good run, was free to roam, was well fed and experienced a swift yet humane end to serve our carnivorous taste buds. Throw in a few veggies, some cheese and sandwich it between a couple buns and you’ve got yourself a prime specimen right there.
There is a vast difference between a well made burger and a fast burger and this goes for similar foods such as tacos, pizzas, you name it. It’s as though each food has an evil twin.
In reality an occasional burger isn’t going to mean that the grim reaper will come knocking at your door. This is of course provided that this is a quality burger and consumed in moderation. It is incredible how much a fast burger can be messed with. What goes into one of these is now pretty well known but still not well enough with compromising implications on health buried even deeper.
From unnecessary sugar in the buns to the hormones the meat is fed – none of it is good news. In fact it’s pretty bad news. Junk foods lose most of their nutrients in processing and therefore provide very little nourishment. Nutrients your body has stored are even used to break down these foods.
Therefore the opportunity cost is great in choosing a food that will deprive you of nutrients rather than provide. Think of nutrients like an army, eventually when there aren’t enough troops (antioxidants, phytonutrients…) with protective effects defending, disease can invade and overrun (1,2,3). This is what happens when junk foods are consumed for a sustained period without any whole foods.
In practicality it is difficult to moderate sometimes and willpower can be tested. Moderation, however can be achieved with a bit of patience and practice. You know deep down how much is enough. What really does screw willpower over though, Is biochemically underpinned.
Added ingredients in fast foods magnetise the otherwise oblivious consumer into wanting more due to their highly stimulating effect on brain chemistry (4). Sound familiar? Tobacco – no there’s nothing addictive in our cigarettes, the people just love them so much they can’t get enough. Sure. Like nicotine, sugar can be very addictive due to its effect on our reward system triggering the release of dopamine, even more so than well known addictive drugs such as cocaine (5).
How are we meant to enjoy a balance of health and indulgence in life when the dice are biochemically loaded? The cravings for these type of foods can be almost insurmountable. This goes not for just burgers but many things that are chemically processed and are also wrapped and advertised alluringly. It’s one big elaborate trap to rob you of your money and eventually your health.
What is great though is that there are many gourmet alternatives who want to serve you great quality food and not just serve their pockets. Organic meat, sugarless bread, fresh tomatoes, real (not plastic) cheese. Wow that’s amazing! This is how it should have always been! Quality over quantity.
Have you ever noticed McDonald’s boasting how many burgers have been sold on their signs? Brilliant example of quantity over quality. The funny thing is if you go to the effort to legitimately serve your customers and not slowly kill them you can also make some decent money.
Of course even eating too many gourmet burgers will lead you down a dark avenue. The point I am trying to make is that these aren’t as addictive as fast foods and are easier to be enjoyed from time to time.
So, in summary the occasional quality burger might not catch you out, it’s being hooked on their evil twins. The saturated fat in one gourmet burger a week will not be enough to clog your arteries provided it is consumed amongst other health foods in your diet and a little exercise is enjoyed. But when you are addicted to frankenfoods and habitually eat them in place of healthy foods, then enough saturated fat may just accumulate to hurt the old ticker. You can still eat the foods you enjoy, just make sure they are not chemically laden and make a conscious decision to avoid the fake stuff and stack up on greens.
1) Eaton SB & Eaton SB (2000): Paleolithic vs modern diets—selected pathophysiological implications. Eur. J. Nutr. 39, 67 – 70.
2) Eaton SB, Konner M & Shostak M (1988a): Stone agers in the fast lane: chronic degenerative diseases in evolutionary perspective. Am. J. Med. 84, 739 – 749.
3) Key TJ, Thorogood M, Appleby PN, Burr ML. Dietary habits and mor- tality in 11000 vegetarians and health conscious people: results of a 17 year follow up. BMJ. 1996;313:775–779.
4) Caroline Davis, “From Passive Overeating to “Food Addiction”: A Spectrum of Compulsion and Severity,” ISRN Obesity, vol. 2013, Article ID 435027, 20 pages, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/435027
5) Ahmed S.H, Guillem K, Vandaele Y. 2013. Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 16(4):434-9.