Fast food – Pay one price and eat as much as you like, WOW!
Posted on October 31st, 2014

Dr Hector Perera         London

Unlike the present day, fast food is everywhere, no waiting to cook, one can get it without delay from so many places or home delivered hot hot in no time. The weather may be rain or shine, you get the meals to the doorstep. Some people say it’s cheap, tasty and saves time in cooking. Sometime ago this kind of food was not so common in Sri Lanka but now the things are changed for better or worse, the best thing is you decide. I think an occasional treat in moderation cannot do any long term harm but the problem is the people get quickly addicted to those kinds of food. Most of the fast food contain SOS that is sugar, oil and salt in excess amounts to make it more adorable or palatable and addictive to fast foods. Also don’t forget they put additives, colourings and so many different sweet or sour sources as well at no charge.

Eating fast food is a kind of addiction

A study in 2003 controversially suggested that fast food was as addictive as heroin due to the sugar and fat content, and that some people simply couldn’t stop eating it because their bodies craved the taste. Perhaps they think it’s worth to starve a few hours until they get the favourite meals at the takeaways so they drop into takeaways on their way to work or to school and even some University students often eat those kinds of food.

It was also suggested that eating these foods created what they described as ‘pleasure chemicals’ in people susceptible to the addiction. This theory could well be borne out by the 2008 survey that showed 44% of Americans and 45% of Brits didn’t think they could give up their fast food fix because it tasted so good, any survey to modern Sri Lankans?

Dial a pizza, Indian or Chinese

People are paid to drop countless takeaway leaflets through letterboxes up and down the country, so there’s no shortage of numbers to dial if you want pizza, Indian, Chinese or any other delicacy that can be delivered. Too many people take these leaflet distribution as an easy job, no experience or qualifications are required, just drop leaflets through the letter boxes. Some lazy leaf distributors dump most of the leaflets in paper recycle bins and pretend to their boss that all delivered. Those leaflets display a variety of food including the dial up number and the prices so it becomes an easy way to get a meal any time. If money is not in hand they take credit cards and they are delivered in a matter of minutes to your doorstep. Sometimes they give a large bottle of fizzy drinks as a bonus when you order some food for more than two people. Eat it from the box and you won’t even have to do any washing up!

Takeaway deliveries even in Colombo

One might say that kind of fast food home delivery service is limited to Western world but the fact is currently to any part of Colombo they deliver those takeaway food. Some people visit Sri Lanka from other countries on short holidays and during that time, they are not prepared to cook at the place where they stay for a short period, instead either eat out or get some food delivered. Most of them not prepared to stay with relatives or with friends due to various reasons so they choose to stay in short let flats and apartments, then they are free of commitments.

 Once we were coming along Galle road then we inquired from the taxi driver about any decent places to eat. I think it was somewhere near Mt Lavinia, just by the road side, so one cannot miss the place. Then he took to a place where one pays a fixed price to eat as much as one could eat. One good thing about their adverts was, they clearly displayed the price, Eat as much as you like” for this price. There was rice and curries on the menu so we felt like home meals. It was a perfect buffet, just serve yourself whatever you want then sit down. Sometimes they help in bringing drinks as well so who is not tempted to go there again? There were far too many varieties of curries and rice prepared in few different ways such as fried rice, plain rice and yellow rice.

Is this another kind of fast food service?

That is not all then there were different desserts such as watalappam, fruit salads and ice creams. What about fresh fruits such as pineapples, mangoes and bananas as well included. The question is how much one can eat to feel comfortable? If necessary tea and coffee as well are also served. Who would not be tempted to come back again to the same place? Is that is another kind of fast food service?

It’s Convenient

Gone are the days where most mums were at home with the kids and could spend time preparing every day’s meal from scratch. Most households now have both parents, and the lone parent out at work, and time poor parents tend to rely on convenience foods after a long day.

Frozen and chilled ready meals can be bought cheaply from many supermarkets, and save the cost of individual ingredients as well as cooking and preparation time. Some ready meals can be even bought in a can ready to be heated in a saucepan. Quick, cheap and easy. It’s not that we don’t want to cook when we get home – it’s just that by the time we do get back from a day in the office, or wherever, we don’t have time.

More and more people live alone, too, so there’s more reliance on meals for one and eating out instead of cooking a meal from fresh ingredients just to sit and eat it alone in front of the television. Lifestyles have changed to make home cooking a luxury for most of us, while throwing something in the microwave or ordering in seems like the better, faster option! Most of the University students eat nothing but takeaways.

Teens and fast food

With a different study (Eating Among Teens, involving data from 2,500 teens, also from the University of Minnesota) showing an increase in the amount of fast food that America’s teens are eating, it’s crucial that the right messages are being sent.

Teens and college students, in particular, are unlikely to listen to don’t eat fast food because it’s bad for you”. Now as a rule no takeaway or fast food places are allowed to function or open up to a certain distance from schools otherwise the children run away even during the short intervals to these places.

Many reasons why choose fast food and risking health

Eating junk food regularly is linked to obesity and chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, but many people still choose junk food sources over their healthy, nutritious whole food counterparts. Junk food is typically cheap, processed and pre-packaged, making it easily available, but there are several psychological motivators that predispose people to choosing it as a meal or snack.

Desperate to eat

Busy schedules often diminish the amount of time people have to prepare healthy, nutritious meals, so they opt for faster, easier options. Whole foods such as vegetables and meat take time and kitchen equipment to cook properly, while fast food hamburgers are usually served within minutes of ordering. Over time, that convenience becomes a habit and eventually a perceived necessity to keep up with such a fast-paced society. Disrupting that routine requires an investment of time, and most people prefer to stick with the faster option.

Easing anxiety

A peripheral result of this fast-paced culture is increased levels of stress and anxiety. Increased stress levels cause the body to expend more energy, stimulating hunger for calorie-dense sustenance and driving people to eat fatty, sugary junk food. High levels of anxiety also cause people to seek out junk food as a means of comfort. When stressed, people look for ways to calm themselves, and junk food’s positive effects on the reward centre of the brain make it a comforting go-to choice.

Suffering from lack of sleep

There is also evidence to suggest that sleep deprivation motivates people to choose junk foods over healthy foods. They are tempted to watch far too many films and late night programmes so they get lack of time to sleep and rest. Many years ago there was just the radio as the entertainment but now there are far too many channels to watch too many films.

Just wait for 3D TV

I still remember Karunaratne Abeysekera’s one children’s programme called Lamapitiya”. We just had to visualise things because it was just a radio show. Then there was Muwan Palessa”, a real drama but still over the radio. One person called Kadira” was a real entertainer with his accent and the shot gun. I am sure many enjoyed that kind of radio shows but now more than 150 channels of TV, far too many to choose. Even if one watched one minute a channel, how long it takes to see all? How about 3D TV programmes, it’s on the way, just wait.

May be after a hard day’s work, they get an excuse to watch late night movies then hardly any time to sleep. When sleep is restricted, the primal reward centre of the brain becomes more active while executive functions of the frontal lobes become more suppressed. This effectively diminishes willpower, making people more likely to seek out foods high in fat and sugar, which are logically poor choices that trigger the reward centre.

Chemicals in food make you addicted

People may also choose junk food simply because they have developed a mild physical dependence on it. Studies show that binge eating foods high in sugar or fat results in neurochemical changes in the brain similar to those that develop in drug addiction. According to a study published in Physiology and Behaviour” in October 2011, rats that habitually eat foods high in sugar and fat mentally crave more of those substances and experience withdrawal-like symptoms if they do not get access to it. After developing the habit, people may be neuro-chemically driven to choose junk food.

Who eats the most fast food?

A survey from the journal Obesity, they found that younger people, singles and males ate more fast food than older people, married couples and women. They also found that people who think fast food is convenient, and those who dislike cooking, were considerably more likely to eat fast food. Interestingly, people who thought fast food was unhealthy ate as much of it as those who didn’t think this.

The researchers believe that this indicates the current health messages just aren’t making an impact, they know very well but they just don’t care.

These findings suggest public education regarding the unhealthfulness of fast food may not influence fast food consumption. Interventions targeting the issue of convenience and quick or efficient preparation of nutritious alternatives to fast food could be more promising.

How to cut down fast food

Perhaps nutritional bodies and concerned adults should be putting forward more positively framed messages. Home cooked food can be just as cheap as fast food and much better for you. Anyone can learn to cook. You can prepare a nutritious snack or meal in minutes. Unlike in the past now there are ingredients in convenient packs and bottles. I know in the past our servants had to work so hard to grind the ingredients on so called Mirisgala” but now simple electrical gadgets do the job in a matter of minutes. If you are too lazy to cut the vegetables into smaller pieces such as carrots, potatoes and onions or even Mukunuwenna”, just choose the correct machine to do the job. If one cuts coconut kernel into small pieces then put into a liquidiser, you can get the same job as done by Hiramonae” but much quicker and easily. There are grinders, slicers and liquidisers to meet your requirements so why not try some home cooking?

Our servants back home struggled in firewood stove kitchens to cook food but now gas and electric cookers, ovens, grill cooking and many more gadgets and facilities are at your service. Once you invest on that kind of kitchen appliances you would soon realise the benefits. If the parents and adults didn’t motivated their growing up children to cook something healthy, they might get tempted to eat junk food when they went for further education in Universities.  Your comments are welcomed

One Response to “Fast food – Pay one price and eat as much as you like, WOW!”

  1. Nimal Says:

    Eating fast food is a accepted way of life in busy London, where people have little time, but they have a choice to pick healthy from the unhealthy.

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