Most college students and young professionals are far too familiar with a fast-paced lifestyle, supplemented by late nights, fast food drive-thru, and one too many cups of coffee each morning. If you’re not grabbing a granola bar to eat in replacement of breakfast on the way to work or skipping through lunch to work, you might decide to avoid the extra work in the kitchen and catch up with friends and family over dinner at a restaurant. Nonetheless, it is safe to say that you most likely won’t have time to prepare and eat each meal at home
Packing a lunchbox of food from home might seem like a healthy way to both combat the alluring temptation of your nearby McDonald’s drive-thru at lunch break, and pinch a few extra pennies in the meantime. Believe it or not, your lunchbox most likely has foods that are far more harmful to your health than you know. Below are ten things you might want to take into consideration next time before packing your routine lunch items:
1) Chemical-Injected Lunchmeat: Most people can taste the difference in consistency between slimy sandwich meat and grandma’s oven-baked turkey. The reason for this is that deli meat is often processed with harmful additives such as sodium nitrate (a chemical used for coloring, which forms carcinogenic compounds). A recent study performed by Harvard University found that individuals who consume lunchmeat regularly are more likely to develop coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus.
2) Bad-For-You Beverages: Most people know that a can of coca cola contains massive amounts of sugar and diet soda contains harmful artificial sweeteners, so when packing a lunch they instead choose what may be a seemingly healthier alternative, such as Life Water or Vitamin Water. However, a bottle of vitamin water actually contains more sugar than a snickers candy bar. Try brewing iced tea at home and adding a little bit of raw honey instead to avoid the extra sugar!
3) Potato Chips with BHA: Butylated Hydroxyanisole is a chemical ingredient that was actually banned as a harmful ingredient in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and throughout Europe, but is still used in processed foods in the United States. BHA gives potato chips their waxy substance and extends shelf life, but does not give your body health benefits!
4) Salt: One in three American citizens develop high blood pressure at some point in their life, and the American Heart Association partially blames excessive sodium in the processed food that floods today’s grocery shelves. Next time before eating anything bagged, canned, or boxed, check the sodium content on the label!
5) Mayonnaise: The combination of oil and egg whites has proven to be potentially dangerous and a possible cause of long-term brain damage. Mayonnaise’s high fat content decreases an individual’s sensitivity to feeling full, often making it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Hummus, pesto, or greek yogurt provide delicious, healthful alternatives.
6) Soup, the silent killer: MSG is a flavor enhancer often added to canned soups during processing. MSG has been labeled an “excitotoxin”, because it overexcites your cells causing cell death. MSG has been proven to cause brain damage, varying from learning disabilities to Lou Gehrig’s disease. Make sure your soup cans are labeled “MSG-free” to assure you are avoiding this brain-killing ingredient.
7) Addictive Oreos: Have you ever wondered why it’s almost impossible to stop after having just one oreo? The reason is because the same pleasure-causing opiates in the brain that are stimulated by narcotics are also stimulated by foods that are high and fat in sugar. So next time you say you’re feeling “high on sugar”, you actually are!
8) Unsafe temperatures: Studies from Washington University warn that harmful bacteria fester in neutral temperatures, which are often maintained in a lunchbox. Perishables should be stored below 40°F or above 140°F to ensure the food does not spoil. When packing a lunchbox that is not insulated, packing non-refrigerated items is pertinent in avoiding bacteria harmful to the intestines.
9) Bread: Most processed breads contain refined flour, which has no nutritional value, high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient incredibly harmful to one’s health, and phytic acid. In order to ensure preservation, grains are soaked in phytic acid before being baked into bread, stripping them of their beneficial nutrients that bread companies often advertise. Try buying your bread, pitas or wraps freshly baked from a local bakery instead.
10) Pretzels: The low fat and moderate calorie content of this popular American snack is deceiving of its negative health effects. In most types of pretzels, one serving equates to a quarter of the sodium content a person should be receiving each day. Next time you go to grab a bag of these munchies of the shelf, be sure to check the sodium levels!