Health Topics

Healthy Living

November 2011
Teens and Junk Food
Dr.Panchali Moitra
Fast food industry is thriving and so is the incidence of obesity, dental problems and hormonal imbalances amongst teenagers, says a recent report by the Medical Council of India. With growing economy and changing lifestyles, our young population is getting increasingly lured into a diet rich in junk foods; simply because it is convenient, filling, economical and typically ‘a social affair’.

However, these junk foods are not only nutritionally void but are also often packed with saturated and trans fats and empty calories.

Do junk foods cause bad breath?
Bad breath has also been associated with junk food. This happens because junk foods contain huge amounts of sugar, salt, and carbohydrates such as white flour --- an ideal ground for bacteria to build on and grow. This results in bad breath.
  • Salt in foods leaves the mouth dry and with less saliva in the mouth, there is more room for bacteria to thrive.
  • Too much of sugar and refined carbohydrates are also a breeding ground for bacteria in the mouth.
  • Too much of junk food can also cause yeast infection in the intestines and overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth.
  • There are bacteria already existing in the mouth, but with junk food, they multiply.
Healthy food choices
  • Switch to whole wheat bread salad sandwiches from your favourite burgers as most sandwich bars offer the flexibility to choose from a selection of breads, fillings and dressings.
  • Experiment with your culinary skills and replicate Mc burgers at home with healthier ingredients. Go for whole wheat buns, vegetable cutlets or roasted chicken and greens as filling and grated cheese or tofu as topping.
  • Create your own Fillet-o-fish burger by placing grilled fish over a bed of steamed veggies in between wheat tortillas or breads.
  • Order a soup, salad or fresh lemonade as a side dish. Choose clear soups and salads without mayonnaise or white sauce.
  • Switch to fruits or yoghurt for dessert.
  • Cut down on the portion sizes.
  • Smarter fast food choices would be idli sambhar, chicken tikka rolls, milkshakes and fruit juices, hara chana chaat, bhelpuri or popcorn.
  • Say NO to white breads, noodles, pavs, samosas, etc., as they are low in fibre.
  • Have a supply of ready-to-eat healthy food items handy, which can be grabbed even in a hurry. Paneer sandwich, boiled eggs, cereal with milk, nuts or besan chillas are quick and healthy meal options.
  • Finally, try to dissociate foods from emotions and moods. What one puts on the plate should be governed by the appetite and not by the arguments with parents or failure at a competition.
Junk Food Fact
Whether it is Maharaja Mac, Mc Aloo Tikki or Fillet-o-Fish, each of these popular choices boast of approximately 400-500 kcal, 1000 mg of sodium and 25 gm of fat, a perfect recipe for bulging waistlines.
Dr.Panchali Moitra is Nutrition Expert,Weight Management Consultant and Specialist in Alternative Medicine